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Wednesday February 8th

Russian avant-garde ensemble to perform as part of 'Rite' series

During the 20th century, contemporary classical music flourished in the Soviet Union — but it had to remain underground.

The Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory — the first official contemporary music group in Russia — opposed the government with avant-garde compositions and practice.


Time: 8 p.m. tonight
Location: Memorial Hall

Tonight, the Studio for New Music Ensemble of the Conservatory is bringing the daring practice to Chapel Hill.

UNC music and theory professor Severine Neff was instrumental in bringing the ensemble to perform as part of Carolina Performing Arts’ centennial celebration of “The Rite of Spring.”

Emil Kang, executive director of the arts, coordinated the concert, while Neff organized travel arrangements for the ensemble.

Neff said she was inspired to bring the group to UNC because of a Fulbright trip to Russia, as well as the ensemble’s ties to Igor Stravinsky’s experimental compositions.

“I hope to touch history with this performance,” Neff said.

Inspiration for tonight’s performance comes from Russian-born Stravinsky, who composed the music for “The Rite of Spring.” Stravinsky left his homeland in 1915 when the Soviet government banned his works — a censorship not lifted until 1933.

“What happened to Stravinsky there needs to be documented in the performance,” Neff said.

Marnie Karmelita, CPA’s director of artist relations, said the ensemble’s performance tonight will reflect CPA’s ongoing programming and repertoire.

The ensemble will pay special attention to the Russian avant-garde movement of the 1920s, as well as incorporate contemporary pieces, Karmelita said.

Lee Weisert, a music professor at UNC, said he looks forward to hearing music by Russian composers, which goes virtually unperformed in the U.S.

“Anyone who is serious about contemporary classical music will not want to miss this concert,” he said.

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