Free Russian Music Concert at the Mead Art Museum on October 30

September 22, 2009
Contact: Karen Cardinal
Accounting, Web and Marketing Manager, Mead Art Museum
413/542-2551

AMHERST, Mass.—The Amherst Center for Russian Culture and Amherst College Department of Music will present a concert of music by Arthur Vincent Lourié (1891-1966) in the MeadArt Museum’s Rotherwas Room on Friday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m.The concert—which is organized by Klára Móricz, the Joseph E. and Grace W. Valentine Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at the college—is free of charge; no tickets or advance reservations are required.

Performers will include Alissa Leiser and Greg Hayes, piano; Peter Shea, voice; Stefan Hulliger and Joel Pitchon, violin; Marie-Volcy Pelletier, cello; Ron Carbone, viola; and Salvatore Macchia, double bass. The program will feature short piano pieces (Self-Portrait from 1912, one movement from the experimental Forms in the Air, the neoclassical toccata, and the Russian Trepachek); the hauntingly beautiful, war-time Concerto da Camera for solo violin and strings; and the world premiere of three arias from Lourié’s last opera The Blackamoor of Peter the Great (1961).

The opera, on which Lourié labored for more than a decade while living in New York City and Princeton (intriguingly, at the time of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement), takes its story from an unfinished novel by Alexander Pushkin, first published in 1837. The writer based the central character on his own black African great-grandfather, Abram Gannibal, a Paris-educated godson of Peter the Great described by Voltaire as “the dark star of the Enlightenment.” (Lourié signaled the novel’s unfinished ending by concluding his opera with a puppet show.) Nearly half a century since its completion, it seems fitting to premiere some of the opera’s arias at AmherstCollege, whose Center for Russian Culture holds the only Russian manuscript copy of the libretto.

The concert inaugurates “Arthur Lourié and the Voice of Silver Age Russia,” a public conference that will take place at the Amherst Center for Russian Culture on Oct. 31 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Together, the concert and symposium promise to shed fresh light on this important Russian-born composer active in Paris and the United States. An associate of Igor Stravinsky and of various Futurist and Symbolist poets and artists, Lourié worked in a range of musical styles, from expressionist sketches to avant-garde experiments, neoclassical works and large projects that reflect the artistic tends in pre-revolutionary Russia.

In conjunction with the concert and symposium, the Mead is pleased to present the related exhibition, The Silver Age Endured: Russian Costume Design from the Mead Art Museum, which traces the long history of a Russian style distinguished by its individual artistic expression, historicism, craftsmanship, and apolitical content in Russian theater designs of the twentieth century.

To learn more about the conference, please visit www.amherst.edu/academiclife/departments/music/lourie. Additional information about the exhibition, and a complete schedule of museum events is posted on the Mead’s Web site: www.amherst.edu/museums/mead/programs.

The concert is co-sponsored by the Music Department, the RussianCenter and the MeadArt Museum with generous support from the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series Fund, the John Tennant Adams ’29 Fund and the Julia A. Whitney Fund for Russian Art. 

The MeadArt Museum houses the art collection of AmherstCollege, totaling more than 16,000 works. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. During the academic term, the museum is open Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to midnight, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, please visit the museum’s Web site, www.amherst.edu/museums/mead, or call 413/542-2335.

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