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Tuesday January 31st

Mariinsky Orchestra comes to Memorial Hall for 'The Rite of Spring at 100'

Along with a world-renowned conductor, the Mariinsky Orchestra of St. Petersburg will bring its Russian flair to Carolina Performing Arts’ “The Rite of Spring at 100” tonight.

The orchestra — formerly the Kirov Orchestra — and director and conductor Valery Gergiev return to CPA for two performances focused around “The Rite of Spring,” Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s controversial score that turns 100 years old in 2013.


Time: 7:30 p.m. tonight and Tuesday

Location: Memorial Hall

More info:

The orchestra, which performed at Memorial Hall in 2008 and 2010, will perform U.S. premieres of two works commissioned by CPA and inspired by Stravinsky’s score.

Tonight’s performance will open with Matthias Pintscher’s “Chute d’Etoiles Part 1,” and Tuesday’s performance will open with Rodion Shchedrin’s “Cleopatra and the Snake.”

Closing tonight’s concert is Richard Strauss’ “Ein Heldenleben,” which translates to “A Hero’s Life.” CPA will dedicate the piece to the late former UNC-system president Bill Friday.

Mark Nelson, CPA’s director of communications and marketing, said dedicating the song to Friday was an obvious choice because the organization wanted to pay tribute to Friday’s love and support of the arts.

“It was very fitting we try and do something to honor him,” Nelson said. “It was a perfect tribute for him.”

The Mariinsky rendition of “The Rite of Spring” will close Tuesday’s performance. Nelson said it is special to have a Russian orchestra playing a piece inspired by Russian history and stories.

“There’s an incredible influence of Russian folklore,” he said. “To have a Russian orchestra provides all sorts of background to the piece.”

Severine Neff, a UNC music professor who helped develop CPA’s “The Rite of Spring at 100,” said Russian orchestral styles have different tempos and balances of instruments than other styles.

She said she is eager to hear the orchestra play “The Rite of Spring” under the direction of Gergiev, who she said brings a unique perspective to conducting the composition.

Gergiev and his orchestra have accompanied the Mariinsky Theatre Ballet’s performance of Vaslav Nijinsky’s ballet “The Rite of Spring.” So Gergiev knows the orchestral timing of the composition in relation to its ballet, Neff said.

“He has a lot of scenes of the ballet in his mind,” she said.

Tuesday’s performance of “The Rite of Spring” is one of two times the piece will be performed live for CPA’s season — the Orchestra of St. Luke’s will perform it during Basil Twist’s puppet act in April.

“It will contextualize our whole focus on ‘The Rite of Spring’ this year,” said Marnie Karmelita, CPA’s director of artist relations.

But the commissioned pieces make up the goal of artists using inspiration in “The Rite of Spring” to make new artistic works, Karmelita said.

“Our year was not just about how many different ways we could hear or see ‘The Rite of Spring,’” Karmelita said. “We want to use it as a springboard.”

Neff said audience members will be able to identify a relationship between Pintscher’s composition of “Chute d’Etoiles” and “The Rite of Spring.”

“There’s different languages of music and different structures,” Neff said.

“They’re going to hear parts of ‘The Rite’ in his compositions, certainly the language.”

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