Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica to Perform 'Antiformalist Rayok' at Harris Theater, 2/7

The Grammy Award-winning chamber orchestra Kremerata Baltica, led by renowned violinist and Artistic Director Gidon Kremer, returns to the Harris Theater for Music and Dance on Friday, February 7, 2014 at 7:30PM, performing works by Benjamin Britten, Mieczyslaw Weinberg, and Dmitri Shostakovich, including Shostakovich's provocative and seldom-heard comic opera Antiformalist Rayok, featuring Moscow State Chamber Musical Theatre principal soloist and acclaimed bass vocalist Alexei Mochalov.

Rayok (meaning "gallery" in Russian) is a satirical take on the Second Congress of Soviet Composers-an organization that condemned composers like Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, and Aram Khachaturian as formalists. Originally written for four bass vocals, a chorus and piano, the cantata was never performed publicly while Shostakovich was alive. One of the work's defining traits is its sardonic text, compiled of actual quotes and speeches made by communist leaders during the Stalin era. An enigmatic work, Rayok remained relatively obscure until its public debut by the National Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 1989, more than a decade after Shostakovich's death. The 20-minute long piece features three "Party Officials" discussing the virtues of music in the Soviet Union. Mochalov assumes all three roles for Friday's performance at the Harris.

"Rayok's themes are timeless, a true measure of defiance in the face of oppression," said Michael Tiknis, the Harris Theater's Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols President and Managing Director Endowed Chair. "This inspired work, composed by one of the great artists of the 20th century, is quite unique in classical repertoires, and we look forward to a great rendition from Kremerata Baltica, its esteemed Artistic Director Gidon Kremer, and special guest Alexei Mochalov."

Kremer's advocacy for Human Rights and social justice has been well-documented in recent months. On October 7, 2013, Kremer organized a concert in Berlin on the anniversary of the death of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, an outspoken critic of the Kremlin. To Russia with Love, described by Kremer as "a kind of a personal statement against injustice," (New York Times) reflected upon his upbringing in an authoritarian country.

Other works on the program include Britten's Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge Op. 10, lauded for its musicality. The score, a compositional portrait of Britten's one-time teacher, Frank Bridge, has been used by choreographers like Frederick Ashton and Twyla Tharp. The evening also includes Weinberg's Symphony No. 10 for strings; and Shostavokich's Sonata for violin and piano Op. 134 G major, featuring Kremer as solo violinist.

Comprised of the best young musicians of the Baltic region (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), Kremerata Baltica will perform in Chicago as part of its six-city U.S. tour in 2014. The tour also includes stops in New York, San Francisco, Houston, Ann Arbor, and St. Paul.

Tickets for the performance are $15 - $30, available at, or by calling the Box Office at 312.334.7777.

More On: Benjamin Britten, Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, Carnegie Hall, Frederick Ashton, Twyla Tharp,

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by Peter Danish