1) a location in the Ukraine where early on in WWII the Nazis – with local complicity and probably help shot and buried over 34000 Jews in mass graves
2) A poem by Yevgeny Yevtushenko published in 1961.
3) Symphony No. 13 (Shostakovich).
The first event was glossed over in the World History courses I took in High School. Rural Minnesota did more old and western history and pretty much stayed out of WWII. The Shoah was well known, at least to me, but not all of the details.
The second was introduced to me my freshman fall in University by a fellow student in my math class. It was his reason, he explained, for taking Russian as a foreign language since the poem, tho powerful had to be better in the original language than in translation. I bought the concept, what did I know at 17? Now, really? Yes works are much better in the original language – Le Petit Prince comes to mind. But then there are the dense and heavy German tombs which kind translators have turned into almost readable volumes with sentences that don’t run on for fourteen pages.
The third I really learned about this year. Having never really been a fan of Shostakovich (Glorify the Russian Revolutions? Ok, and keep out of Siberia – I get it), I never noted how many he had written. This particular symphony in five movements was inspired by the poem (see above) and then was extended with the addition of four more poems. Did I mention that this is also a complete choral work with male basses. And only male basses?
Tonight’s performance was by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, plus four actors reading the poems prior to the music (two of which should have been removed for all of their emoting since it seemed to be more about them than the poem. The other two were excellent). The solo singer was excellent but he could have been singing Italian for all the specific word emphasis he placed. The Men’s Choir was amazing. In order to gather enough men they raided the Berkeley Choir, The Russian Orthodox Church’s Choir (St Stephans?) and Alumni from the Oakland Boys Choir. There was an interesting discussion ahead of time which included a shoulder shrug as to why this particular piece had been scored this way – essentially only one male voice.
Easy Peasy in my opinion. Deep Russian Voice? Male dominated society especially at the time Babi Yar occurred; these men are standing for all Russian Men. They are acknowledging what was done, how people thought, what they did, what remains to be done. I can’t think of any way more fitting than what was chosen.
I went and looked up past mention I have made of construction, renovation and my otherwise disgust with the house. A lot of it was scattered here and there and never quite in anything coherent. So my apologies for sounding sharp. I had individually answered a lot of questions over the last couple of years, but never put it in a format which would make sense to everyone.
Since I spent most of the morning in the garage sorting out stuff – I emptied 20+ boxes. Most of them are books which will be finding another home. Two boxes of which I dropped off to a new weaver today (she took my Baby Wolf off my hands) so that she can add research and theory to the practical lessons she has taken. I’m also working on the studio, but don’t think I am going to show any photos of that particular disaster in progress….