SAMUEL BARBER Adagio for Strings, op. 11
»Present-Day History« for baritone and orchestra. A joint work by Belarusian composers and poets. Commissioned by VITALI ALEKSEENOK.
I. KANSTANTIN YASKOU »Versuch in Ahnenforschung«
II. OLGA PODGAISKAYA »Die Stadt ist ein Fluss«
III. ANONYMOUS »Ein Gedicht«
TŌRU TAKEMITSU «Air« for flute solo
FRANZ SCHUBERT Symphony No. 7 in B minor, D 759 »Unfinished«
»We met not as originally planned with conductor’s baton and flute in a concert hall but with funeral flowers beside a bloodstain on the streets of Minsk.« Vitali Alekseenok’s encounter with Maria Kalesnikava didn’t go as anticipated. Both are from Belarus and since emigrating have become important figures on the cultural scene in Germany. During the Belarus presidential election in August 2020 they returned to their home country to join the mass protests against autocratic incumbent Alexander Lukashenko and his blatant election fraud. All across Belarus, people shook off years of lethargy and began clamouring for change. The regime reacted with oppression and gruesome violence; as a result Kalesnikava is now one of many unlawfully detained individuals. Belarusians countered this with a disarming creativity and lack of violence, pitting their innocence against bloodshed. This particular, very moving kind of protest took this courageous people beyond the initial event of the presidential election, even though the numbers participating have been decimated by detainment or flight. As long as Lukashenko is in power, there is no victory; meanwhile a »European history of the present
« is being written, one that is largely disregarded by peaceful and democratic countries such as Germany.
Vitali Alekseenok is known to us as a conductor. While his experiences in Minsk have had a huge influence on him and the way he makes music, he is torn apart in side by the fact that he can do nothing for this country with his concerts. In »Die weißen Tage von Minsk« (The White Days of Minsk) he has written a chronicle of the Belarusian revolution, with the aim of drawing attention to the situation in Belarus.
»Do you rejoice with us? Do you suffer with us?« asks the Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort in her preface to his book. However, with his evening programme at the Ludwigsburg Forum, Alekseenok is doing far more than simply creating empathy. In three contemporary poem settings by Belarusian composers the audience can experience at first hand the poetic and musical approaches – hymnic, imploring, desperate – that are being used to process the dire and distressing conditions in Belarus. The stillness embodied in Tōru Takemitsu’s piece for flute entitled »Air« matches the peaceful quality of the Belarusian revolution. Its aim remains unreached, something that is also expressed in Franz Schubert’s »Unfinished Symphony«.
The event is part of the subscription package »Welt im Wandel« [World in Transition].
Image © Wikimedia Commons Public Domain