On April 15, 2015, Chapman University’s Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music and Dr. Vera Ivanova welcome back the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble (MCME) who will perform the exciting recital program: Tributes to 20th-century Masters.

Completing the ensemble are Ivan Bushuev, flute; Oleg Tantsov, clarinet; Mikhail Dubov, piano; Vladislav Pesin, violin; Evgeny Tonkha, violoncello; and Viktoria Korshunova, manager.

Music selected for the evening includes contemporary works by renowned Russian, European and American composers including: Edison Denisov, Morton Feldman, Helmut Lachenmann, David Lefkowitz, Tristan Murail, Alexander Radvilovich, and Chapman faculty composers Sean Heim and Vera Ivanova.

Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble

The Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble performs on April 15 at 8pm in Chapman University’s Salmon Recital Hall.

As an added pleasure, four of the featured composers, Heim, Ivanova, Lefkowitz and Radvilovich will be attending the performance. Dr. Lefkowitz currently serves as Professor of Composition and Chair of the Music Theory Department at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Radvilovich is currently on tour in Southern California. A resident and native of St. Petersburg, Russia, he teaches at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory and the University of Humanities.

The music compositions featured are for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano. The evening opens with a unique arrangement of Denisov’s D S C H  for clarinet, violin, cello and piano (the original is for clarinet, trombone, cello and piano), which is a musical tribute to Dmitri Shostakovich, echoed by Radvilovich’s Pierrot’s Dreams (a tribute to Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire), and Ivanova’s The Laughing Man Alphabet, a set of variations which uses Lachenmann’s piano cycle Ein Kinderspiel (Child’s Play) as a theme.

The audience will also hear the rarely performed Durations 1  by Feldman and Murail’s Les Ruines circulaires. The program includes a work by Chapman’s Heim, whose sö pa is dedicated to the Dalai Lama, and a fold-out composition Un-(time)-less by UCLA’s Lefkowitz.

MCME was founded in 1990 by composers Edison Denisov and Yuri Kasparov as the Soviet Union entered its final days. Considered Russia’s foremost contemporary chamber music ensemble, the group focuses on promoting 20th and 21st-century music, a dramatic and even revolutionary departure from the types of artistic proscription under Soviet rule.

Russian Music’s Dynamic History

After the Russian revolution in 1917 and the formation of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, the country went through a cultural sea change. The musical influences of Western Europe that had been welcomed by the Imperial Court in the 18th and 19th centuries were rejected in favor of compositions that conformed to political ideology, reflecting patriotic and at times folkloric sentiments and themes. The avant-garde and experimentation were taboo. Early 20th-century master composers who had previously enjoyed widespread popularity, such as Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, suddenly found their works banned or labeled inappropriate and “anti-proletariat,” even bordering on treasonous for not conforming to the new rigid boundaries for “Socialist Realism” established by the state.

The devastation of World War II left an emotional hole in the country. As mid-century arrived, younger composers rose up through the Soviet ranks, yet only a small handful of names like Schnittke, Gubaidulina and Denisov broke through the Iron Curtain and became known in western countries for their artistry. Their music expressed an attempt to break free of the restrictive confines of the Soviet Union and convey the repressed emotional, existential and spiritual energy of a nation.

Now in its 25th year, MCME works to educate young Russian artists and to share with Russian and international audiences the music of modern and contemporary composers. This concert is made possible by support from the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and a generous contribution from Chapman University’s John Koshak Visiting Professorship.

The concert begins at 8:00 p.m. in Salmon Recital Hall, Bertea Hall. Tickets are $10 general admission; $5 senior citizens, alumni and non-Chapman students and may be purchased online at chapman.edu/tickets, by calling (714) 997-6812, or at the door. Admission is free for Chapman faculty, staff and students with ID.