A musical evening dedicated to the celebration of the anniversaries of the great Russian composers: the 125th anniversary of the birth of Sergei Prokofiev and the 110th anniversary of Shostakovich’s birth was held on September 22, 2016 in the Van Alen Mansion, one of the most fashionable mansions in Manhattan.
It was not by chance, that the “Russian Center New York,” decided to celebrate these anniversaries, as both Prokofiev and Shostakovich performed on numerous occasions in New York. Sergei Prokofiev first came to New York in 1918 and toured the United States for three years. Subsequently, he would visit the United States many times after that.
The first introduction of the music of Dmitry Shostakovich with American music aficionados came without his presence. His First Symphony was made its debut in Philadelphia in 1928. And only two decades later, Shostakovich came to New York as part of an official Soviet delegation. The composer recalls this trip: “In 1949, the US Congress was in favor of peace. There, our delegation was invited, including myself. And that’s what I remember: it was a meeting of American supporters of peace, and I decided to play the Scherzo of the Fifth Symphony. This happened in the Great Hall, and was attended by many students.” A member of the delegation, directed by Sergei Gerasimov, wrote in his memoirs: “The emergence of Shostakovich in America, of course, was a sensation, and around it there was something unimaginable.”
The program of the event held at the Van Alen Mansion included works by Prokofiev: Akhmatova’s Cycle “Requieum” and Sonata No. 4, and the creative work of Shostakovich’s, Catherine’s aria from the opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” and “Satire” (based on the words of Sasha Chernyj) sung by soprano Zhanna Alhazova and pianist Abram Korsunsky. The Russian-born talented duo gave the audience a fine, unique interpretation of the works of the great composers.
The evening was attended by young Russian compatriots, as well as representatives of New York’s elite society – leading politicians, businessmen and cultural figures who enjoyed the delicacies of Russian cuisine – highly acclaimed works of the Chef of the New York restaurant “Teremok”.
The non-profit organization “Russian Center New York” (RCNY), under the leadership of Elena Branson, and with the support of Rossotrudnichestvo, organized this musical evening.
RCNY was able to provide one of the key elements of any social event – a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, conducive to developing and deepening a greater understanding of Russian culture, and promoting better U.S. – Russia relations.