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Nineteenth Annual Bard Music Festival, Prokofiev and His World, Continues with Autumn Finale on October 24 and 25


Mark Primoff

“Part boot camp for the brain, part spa for the spirit” – New York Times

 ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – The third and final weekend of the 2008 Bard Music Festival, “Prokofiev and His World,” takes place at Bard’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on the last weekend of October. The opening event on Friday evening, October 24 at 8:00 p.m., is a concert by the American Symphony Orchestra, preceded by an illuminating talk by the festival’s coartistic director, Christopher H. Gibbs. Having opened Bard SummerScape with the world premiere of Prokofiev’s original version of the ballet Romeo and Juliet on July 4, Bard closes out its examination and presentation of the composer’s life and works with a weekend themed “Prokofiev in America and Russia.”
Friday’s program, which is repeated on Saturday evening, includes the rarely performed violin concerto by Prokofiev’s American contemporary John Alden Carpenter, with Mira Wang as soloist. The concert’s centerpiece is Prokofiev’s mighty Symphony No. 5. Scholar Simon Morrison, who found the original Romeo and Juliet manuscripts when he opened the previously closed Prokofiev files at the Russian State Library, emphasizes the importance in the composer’s life and work of his belief in spiritually affirmative Christian Science. An August interview with Dr. Morrison and Leon Botstein in the Wall Street Journal provides useful background:
Another example [of Prokofiev’s positive outlook] is the wartime Fifth Symphony, which, according to Dr. Morrison, Prokofiev himself described in Soviet media and in an interview for Time magazine as being about spiritual uplift, about striving to overcome obstacles, about striving to attain a higher form of human experience. “That is what Communist ideology preached under Stalin,” [Morrison explains,] “and that is very much what Prokofiev believed he could achieve through his faith.”
In the same article, Leon Botstein says: “[Prokofiev] was fired by the idea of writing great music for the masses. And without sacrificing the irony and sarcastic humor that we associate with modernity, Prokofiev succeeded because he is the most successful tunesmith among the modernists.”
The Saturday programs open at 10:00 a.m., with a panel on Art and Dictatorship featuring Dr. Morrison, Dr. Botstein, Daniel Mendelsohn, and Jennifer Day, and include an afternoon of chamber music performed by faculty and students of The Bard College Conservatory of Music. The concert program juxtaposes works by Prokofiev and his older but longer-lived contemporary Igor Stravinsky. The Saturday panel is free and open to the public; the concerts are popularly priced. Details follow below.
Reviewing the final weekend of the 2006 Bard Music Festival, the New York Times reported, “As impressive as many of the festival performances were, they were matched by the audience’s engagement: strangers met and conversed, analyzing the music they’d heard with sophistication, and a Sunday-morning panel discussion of gender issues in 19th-century culture drew a nearly full house. All told, it was a model for an enlightened society.”
Further information and tickets to these events may be obtained from the website or the Bard box office at 845-758-7900.

“Prokofiev and His World” – Bard Music Festival, Weekend Three

Friday, October 24 – Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24
Program One From Chicago to Moscow (repeated Saturday, October 25)
Sosnoff Theater
7:00 p.m.      Preconcert Talk: Christopher H. Gibbs

8:00 p.m.      Performance: Mira Wang, violin; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

 Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)

   Waltz Suite, Op. 110 (1946)

   March and Scherzo, from The Love for Three Oranges, Op. 33 (1921)

   Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major, Op. 100 (1944)

   John Alden Carpenter (1876–1951)

   Violin Concerto (1936)

Tickets: $25, $40, $55
Saturday, October 25
PANEL – Art and Dictatorship
Olin Hall
10:00 am – noon

Leon Botstein; Simon Morrison; Daniel Mendelsohn; Jennifer Day

Free and open to the public

Program Two – The Uneasy Rivalry: Prokofiev and Stravinsky

Olin Hall
2:30 p.m.      Preconcert Talk: Elizabeth Bergman

3:00 p.m.      Performance: Faculty and students of The Bard College    Conservatory of Music

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)

   Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34 (1919)

   Sonata for two violins, Op. 56 (1932)

   Sonata for cello and piano, Op. 119 (1949)

Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)

   Sonata for two pianos (1943–44)

   Septet (1952–53)

Tickets: $25
Box Office: 845-758-7900

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This event was last updated on 10-20-2008