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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Imperial Riches

Sheboygan Symphony’s night in Russia

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Imperial Russia is often painted in the grim hues of Siberian exile and political repression, yet a glittering culture coalesced there during the 19th and early 20th centuries—one that continues to influence the arts and imagination throughout the world a century after czarism fell to the Bolsheviks. Late Imperial Russia produced Diaghilev and Nijinsky, Stravinsky and Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Kandinsky and legions of lesser musicians, architects, graphic designers, dancers and painters. The St. Petersburg telephone directory even had a separate section for artists.

The Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra celebrates the sonic dimension of this cultural fluorescence with Land of the Firebird: From Russia with Love. The concert consists of the introduction to Modest Mussorgsky’s unfinished opera Khovantchina and his brilliant suite Pictures at an Exhibition; the Requiem of Alexander Borodin, who mined the deep deposits of Russian folklore and music for inspiration; and Violin Concerto No. 2 by Sergei Prokofiev, a composer associated with the Soviet period but whose roots were in the fertile soil of late Imperial Russia, where cosmopolitan modernism converged with ancient tradition and Europe mated with Asia.

Violinist Ilana Setapen, associate concertmaster for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, will be guest soloist on the Prokofiev concerto. The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, at the Stefanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts, 826 N. 8th St., Sheboygan.