Shostakovich Undressed – Performance

Last Thursday’s Shostakovich Undressed event was really quite a spectacle.  It’s hard to imagine that anyone could combine Shostakovich’s turbulent chamber symphony in C minor with spoken word, electroacoustic responses and burlesque dancers…yet, somehow it worked.  I don’t believe that such a thing has been attempted before, certainly not in Aberdeen.  Of course, it wasn’t to everyone’s taste – I overheard one audience member remarking, “I’m not sure that it’s Shostakovich Undressed, but rather Shostakovich tortured!”  You can’t win everyone over, I suppose.

I overheard that last comment following the performance of my own work, the video and sound of which can be found here:

During rehearsals, composer Clive Grace took the following pictures.  The video projection of my own work is visible in the background:







I’m very excited to be involved with an event titled Shostakovich Undressed.  Along with sound artists Pete Stollery, Suk-Jun Kim, Clive Grace and Chandra Chapman, I’ll be providing a “response” to Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony in C Minor (Op. 110a) which will be performed in its entirety by the Scottish Ensemble at The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen on 6th June 2013.

The work, dedicated to “the victims of fascism and war”, was written by Shostakovich over three days in the Summer of 1960.  It’s an energetic, aggressive and turbulent piece of music that leaves most listeners shaken.  The majority of the work is based around the famous DSCH motif – Shostakovich’s musical cipher which he transcribes as D, E flat, C, B natural.

I think that there’s something incredibly powerful and affirming about stamping your name so explicitly (yet, at the same time subversively) – and, indeed, bravely – onto something which serves as your primary means of expression, and at the same time, risking the most extreme kind of artistic censorship.  This is music which exists today against the odds, and that’s an incredibly powerful and potent source of material to work with.

My “response” makes extensive  use of the DSCH motif, whilst incorporating video projection and a burlesque dancer.  The performance is intended to express a breaking free from censorship of artistic expression.  The music track can be streamed below:

Further information and ticket booking information can be found here.