Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Shostakovich: Music For Orchestra

Also see John's review of The Lion in Winter

The New World Symphony presents an evening of the music of Dmitri Shostakovich, with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, and guest cellist Yo-Yo Ma. This performance is part of The World Of Shostakovich: A New World Symphony In-Context Festival.

Since 1996, the New World Symphony has presented a series of multi-dimensional educational and performance projects known as In-Context Festivals. These festivals view a selected musical subject matter within its broader social and historical context. Previous In-Context Festivals have been devoted to composers such as Beethoven, Copland, Mozart, Sibelius and Villa-Lobos.

Celebrating the centennial of his birth, The World of Shostakovich: An In-Context Festival will illuminate the life and music of Dmitri Shostakovich from February 22 - March 11, 2007. The festival includes the Music for Orchestra concert, as well as the concert Shostakovich: Chamber Music, discussions, film presentations, lobby displays and a collaborative art exhibit with The Wolfsonian-FIU entitled Art and Revolution.

This performance, featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma, contained:
Selections from The Golden Age, Op. 22:
Soviet Dance

Concerto No. 2 in G major for Cello and Orchestra

Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47
Allegro non troppo

The New World Symphony plays beautifully under the direction of conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. The dynamic range, animated use of instrumentation and percussion in Op. 22 is delightful, and is over far to soon. The Largo section of Op. 126 seems to drag too slowly even though played by a man of such virtuosity as cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The tender dynamics of this section perhaps dwindle ineffectively in a hall of this size. The Largo and Allegro non troppo sections of Op. 47, again well played, bring the concert to an exciting end.

Born on September 12, 1906, Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich was a Russian composer of the Soviet Period. He suffered two official denunciations of his music in 1936 and 1948, and the periodic banning of his work at the hands of the government. At the same time, he remained the most popular Soviet composer of his generation and received a number of accolades and state awards. Shostakovich prided himself on orchestrations that were clear and well-projected. His greatest works are generally considered to be his 15 symphonies and 15 string quartets. He was greatly influenced by Mahler and Rimsky-Korsakov. His other works include operas, six concertos and a great deal of film music.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma began studying violin, and later viola, before taking up the cello at age four. As a child prodigy, he began performing before audiences at age five. At eight, he appeared on American television in a concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein. By age fifteen Ma had already graduated high school and appeared as soloist with the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra. He attended the Juilliard School of Music and studied at Columbia University before enrolling at Harvard University. Ma has been referred to as "omnivorous" by critics and possesses a more eclectic repertoire than is typical for classical musicians. He is the winner of fifteen Grammy Awards, currently runs the Children's Orchestra Society (COS) in Long Island, New York with his wife. In addition to his solo work, he also plays with his own Silk Road Ensemble, which has the goal of bringing together musicians from diverse countries.

Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas is the Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony. He is the Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, and the Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony's recordings have won eight Grammy Awards. In 1995, he was named Musical America's Conductor of the Year, and was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006.

Since its inauguration in 1988, the New World Symphony has achieved an international reputation by creating new models for orchestra training and performance. Known as America's Orchestral Academy, its fellowship program provides top graduates of music programs in the United states the opportunity to enhance their musical education with the finest in professional training. Their home is located at 541 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach, FL. For more information on the New World Symphony, you may reach them on line at

Shostakovich: Music For Orchestra was presented by the New World Symphony on February 24, 2007 in Knight Concert Hall at the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, FL. For information on the many diverse offerings of the Carnival Center, you may contact them at 305-949-6072, or on line at

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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