Wendy Lesser, author of the book Music for Silenced Voices: Shostakovich and His Fifteen Quartets, to be published by Yale University Press in March 2011, will host pre-concert conversations before each of the four performances in the Pacifica Quartet's Shostakovich string quartet cycle, part of the Metropolitan Museum Concerts' 2010-2011 season.
From 6:15 to 6:45 p.m.—prior to the 7:00 p.m. concert—Ms. Lesser will talk with a member of the Pacifica Quartet (Simin Ganatra, and Sibbi Bernhardsson, violin; Masumi Per Rostad, viola; and Brandon Vamos, cello) about the composer and the string quartets, and the quartet's experiences performing them.
According to the Yale University Press description of the book, "Most previous books about Dmitri Shostakovich have focused on either his symphonies and operas, or his relationship to the regime under which he lived, or both, since his large-scale works were the ones that attracted the interest and sometimes the condemnation of the Soviet authorities. Music for Silenced Voices looks at Shostakovich through the back door, as it were, of his 15 quartets, the works his widow characterized as a 'diary, the story of his soul.' These intimate chamber works allowed the high-profile Soviet artist to escape the spotlight for a moment, and perhaps to reveal feelings and ideas that otherwise needed to be kept hidden—to comment, directly or indirectly, on the fate of those who had been silenced by oppression, by fear, or by death. Wendy Lesser has constructed a fascinating narrative in which the fifteen quartets, considered one at a time in chronological order, lead the reader through the personal, political, and professional events that shaped Shostakovich's singular, emblematic 20th-century life."
The four concerts and their programs are as follows:
- String Quartets No. 1 in C Major, Op. 49; No. 2 in A Major, Op. 68; Nos. 7 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 108; and No. 3 in F Major, Op. 73. Saturday, October 23, 2010, at 7:00 p.m.
- String Quartets No. 4 in D Major, Op. 83; No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 92; No. 6 in G Major, Op. 101; No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 110. Saturday, December 4, 2010, at 7:00 p.m.
- String Quartets No. 10 in A-flat Major, Op. 118; No. 9 in E-flat Major, Op. 117; and No. 12 in D-flat Major, Op. 133. Saturday, January 22, 2011, at 7:00 p.m.
- String Quartets No. 11 in F Minor, Op. 122; No. 13 in B-flat Minor, Op. 138; No. 14 in F-sharp Major, Op. 142; and Nov. 15 in E-flat Minor, Op. 144. Saturday, February 19, 2011, at 7:00 p.m.
For tickets, priced at $45 (or series subscriptions, priced at $160), call the Concerts & Lectures Department at 212-570-3949, or visit www.metmuseum.org/tickets, where updated schedules and programs are available. Tickets are also available at the Great Hall Box Office, which is open Tuesday-Saturday 10-5:00, and Sunday noon-5:00. Student and group discount tickets are available for some events; call 212-570-3949. Tickets include admission to the Museum on day of performance.
Recognized for its virtuosity, exuberant performance style, and often daring repertory choices, the Pacifica Quartet has carved out a compelling and critically lauded musical path. In addition to Musical America and Grammy wins, the Pacifica Quartet has swept top awards in the U.S. and abroad, including the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2006, making the Pacifica only the second chamber music ensemble ever to be selected. Formed in 1994, the ensemble quickly won top prizes in leading international competitions, including the 1998 Naumburg Chamber Music Award.
Wendy Lesser, the editor of The Threepenny Review, is the author of seven previous nonfiction books, most recently Room for Doubt (2007), and one novel. Winner of awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts & Letters, and numerous other organizations, she has written book, theater, film, dance, and music criticism for a variety of print and online publications. She divides her year between Berkeley and New York.
September 21, 2010