The Rambler :: blog

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

'Re-imagining' Shostakovich 

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Here's a free new music event that slipped under the radar for November's cheap new music post, but it looks good enough to warrant a post of its own. This Sunday, Vladimir Ashkenazy will be performing Shostakovich's Sixth Symphony (plus some other stuff) with the Philharmonia at Bristol's Colston Hall. Should be a splendid do, but it hardly qualifies as new music (and it's a full-price evening). But then, in the bar after the concert, audio-visual collective I am the Mighty Jungulator will present a remixed version of said performance, a so-called 're-imagining', through an octophonic sound system and dual video projections. This sounds like it could be ace (could be awful, too, but the group sound like they've done their homework, so I hope not). IatMJ are going to discreetly film the evening's Shostakovich performance for their basic materials, which will then be remixed live. And this is what intrigues me, because the source material for the reworking will be so site- and time-specific. It won't be a remix version of a temporally/spatially orphaned pre-recording, but of the events that the audience in the bar have just been listening to. IatMJ are drawing several (slightly ropey) comparisons between Shostakovich's Stalinist Russia and contemporary Britain as a way of approaching Shostakovich, but at first these seems at odds with - or at least tangential to - the key modus operandum of the project. Other than providing a convenient hook (and some top notch primary material to work with), why choose this concert over a recording? Why Shostakovich? Why the Sixth, for that matter? Something about time and memory and musical construction and concert hall convention will emerge, surely, but what, and how does this fit with Nathan Hughes' remarks on the project that "in this piece [the Shostakovich symphony] the parallels with the present day are inescapable. Russia was falling into a state of degeneracy; millions of people died at the hands of Stalin; yet you had the paradox of the media saying everything was great. It made you feel mad, yet you had to keep going, in a kind of coping mechanism"?

If anyone reading is going to be in Bristol this weekend, do go to this - the bar event is supposed to start at around 9.45, and it's free - and then let me know what you made of it. Ta.

[This Independent article has more. Colston Hall homepage]

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