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‘Revolutionary Traditions: Festival of Russian Music’

Stetson University has hosted a series of events this year timed to the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, but this week’s Festival of Russian Music will showcase far more than the seismic changes of 1917.

“We wanted to use this important centenary not to commemorate the Revolution, per se, but to use this event to reflect on history through music,” said Daniil Zavlunov, Ph.D., Stetson Assistant Professor of Music History and a festival organizer. “This was envisioned from the start as a celebration of Russian music, and both Russian and Soviet contributions to music and world culture.”

Zavlunov said that the centenary of the Revolution provided the impetus for the festival, but the works in the festival’s program will cover a span of almost 150 years. “Our repertoire chronology ranges from 1825, which is almost 100 years before (the Revolution), to 1960 (the date of Shostakovich’s Eighth String Quartet),” said Zavlunov.

Anthony Hose, Stetson’s Director of Orchestras, added that the program will include one of the first performances in America of a recently discovered work by Stravinsky, Funeral Song, composed in 1908.

Explained Zavlunov, “The repertoire that we’ve selected is incredibly eclectic and that’s not something you will experience in many places either in Florida or anywhere else in the United States anytime soon. This festival actually gives a really substantial taste of Russian music in a three-day span.”

Simon Morrison

Two years in the works, “Revolutionary Traditions: Festival of Russian Music” runs from Thursday, Oct. 26, to Saturday, Oct. 28, featuring music of Russia’s greatest composers, including Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich.

Guest lectures will be presented Thursday and Friday by Princeton University Professor and author Simon Morrison, Ph.D., considered the leading authority on Soviet music.

The Stetson University Symphony Orchestra and Concert Choir will perform selections from five Russian composers, with Professor Anthony Hose conducting, and Professor Sean Kennard on the piano for Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 10.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 in Lee Chapel inside Elizabeth Hall. Tickets are available at the door or online — $10 for adults, $5 for area students, and no charge with a Stetson ID and for children ages 12 and under.

All other events are free and open to the public, including the lectures and the Festival Finale concert on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Lee Chapel with the Stetson Women’s Chorale (Professor Andrew Larson conducting), Barron String Quartet, and voice student soloists. Cultural credit is available for Stetson students who attend the concerts.

Stetson student musicians in formal attire on stage of Lee Chapel.

Anthony Hose, Director of Orchestras, conducts the Stetson University Symphony Orchestra.

“For the general public, I hope they will come to campus and immerse themselves in music that’s really representative of a unique period in history and learn how it impacted the world and the music, art and culture of today,” said Thomas Gilmore Masse, D.M.A., Dean of the Stetson School of Music.

“They will be exposed to great music, great performances and great lectures by Simon Morrison and Daniil Zavlunov, and I think there’s a wonderful opportunity intellectually and musically to learn a lot and hear a lot, and so we’re looking forward to the presentation,” he said.

The festival comes amid a year of events highlighting Russian art, drama and music, and also coincides with “60 Years of Russia at Stetson University.” Stetson’s Program in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, (SPREES), will mark the milestone in spring 2018 – “the oldest such program in the state of Florida,” Zavlunov wrote about the festival.

“And that, too, is a cause for celebration and reflection. At no point since the collapse of the Soviet Union, now more than two and a half decades ago, has the need been so urgent to study the region – to bring expert critical understanding and appreciation to our almost daily encounters with it today,” he wrote.

This month, Stetson’s Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center wrapped up the exhibit, “Tradition and Innovation in Russian Art,” which focused on the impact of the Revolution on modern art. As part of the exhibit, Stetson Associate Professor of Art History Katya Kudryavtseva, Ph.D., gave a lecture entitled, “Tradition and Innovation:  Russian Icon Painting and Avant Gard,” and Stetson Assistant Professor of History Mayhill Fowler, Ph.D., discussed her new book, “Beau Monde at Empire’s Edge: State and Stage in Soviet Ukraine,” examining theater and politics in the 1920s and 1930s. Fowler, who is also director of SPREES, led a discussion with Professors Zavlunov and Kudryavtseva.

Together with this weekend’s Festival of Russian Music, the Stetson community has had a remarkable opportunity to examine the impact of the Russian Revolution on three different disciplines of the arts.

-Cory Lancaster

If You Go:

Revolutionary Traditions: Festival of Russian Music
Thursday 26 October-Saturday 28 October 

Thursday 26 October
2:30 p.m.: Lecture: “Scriabin, Mysticism, Eroticism, and a Famed Chord”
by Simon Morrison, Ph.D., Princeton University (Lee Chapel, Elizabeth Hall)
8:30 p.m.: Opening Reception and Ballet Video Viewing (Tinsley Room, Presser Hall)

Friday 27 October
11 a.m.: Conversation with Simon Morrison, Ph.D. (SPREES Building)
2:30 p.m.: Composition Forum with Simon Morrison, Ph.D., guest lecturer (Presser Hall 202c)
6:30 p.m.: Pre-performance Talk, Simon Morrison, Ph.D. (Tinsley Room, Presser Hall)
7:30 p.m.: Stetson University Symphony Orchestra Concert with Stetson University Concert Choir (Lee Chapel, Elizabeth Hall)

Saturday 28 October
6:30 p.m.: Pre-performance Talk, Daniil Zavlunov, Ph.D. (Tinsley Room, Presser Hall)
7:30 p.m.: Festival Finale Concert with Stetson Women’s Chorale, Barron String Quartet, and student vocal soloists (Lee Chapel, Elizabeth Hall)