Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts celebrates Russian art and culture during the 2003-04 season


Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts will host a Russian Arts and Letters Festival featuring more than 20 events celebrating Russian music, art, dance, film, literature and more. Running from November 2003 through April 2004, the festival includes performances by the Moscow Festival Ballet, the Salzburg Marionettes, the Amadeus Trio, dance-illusionists Pilobolus, the Yale University Russian Chorus and the Krasnoyarsk National Dance Company of Siberia, and a lecture by Sergei Khrushchev, son of the late Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

The cultural festival is a biannual Quick Center program, which began in spring 2000 with an Irish Arts and Letters Festival, followed by "French Showcase: Evolving Arts" in spring 2002, said Deborah Sommers, the Quick Center's director of programming. Russian culture was selected for the coming season because of its major contributions to the world and because of the concentration of people of Russian descent living in the region.

"A major goal of the festival is to bring a higher level of understanding to the global significance of these important contributions to culture," Sommers said. "The festival theme focuses on the idea of global discussion and increased understanding between cultures."

In addition, about 75 Connecticut artists will take part in festival events, giving local performers a showcase for their talents.

The festival begins Friday, Nov. 14, at 8 p.m. with a joint performance of Pilobolus and the St. Lawrence String Quartet. Since its inception in 1971, Pilobolus has been pushing the boundaries of dance form with its wildly inventive acrobatics and athleticism. The internationally known St. Lawrence String Quartet, are known for what the Washington Post called "emotionally high charged but never out of control" musicianship. "Sweet Purgatory," one of the evening's selections, will feature innovative choreography set to music by Russian master Dmitri Shostakovich.

On Monday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m., the Quick Center will screen the first of six Russian films, covering three decades of Russian cinema. "Solyaris," a 1972 science fiction film by director Andrei Tarkovsky, will be followed by Vladimir Menshov's "Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears," a 1979 film set to screen on Monday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. The four other films are: "Repentance" (1987) by director Tengiz Abuladze, Monday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m.; Louis Malle's "Vanya on 42nd Street" (1994) Monday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m.; Regis Wargnier's "East-West" (1999), Monday, March 8, at 7 p.m.; and Aleksandr Sokurov's "The Russian Ark" (2002), Sunday, March 21, at 2:45 p.m.

Sergei Khrushchev, Ph.D., son of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, will present the lecture "Russia and the United States: Cultural Differences and Similarities" on Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 7:30 p.m. Author of "Nikita Khrushchev and the Creation of a Superpower," Khrushchev is a senior fellow at the Center for Foreign Policy Development of the Thomas J. Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. A book signing will follow the lecture.

On Saturday, Nov. 22, at 8 p.m., the Krasnoyarsk National Dance Company of Siberia will bring its beautiful music, intricate steps and ornate traditional costumes to the Quick Center's Kelley Auditorium. The unique folklore and dance of the Siberian region have given the company an international following.

The Quick Center's Russian Festival and its new Live Lit! series converge on Sunday, Dec. 7, at 3 p.m. with "Icons of Russian Literature." The afternoon of readings includes "Shylock on the Neva" by Gary Shteyngart, "The Squire's Daughter" by Alexander Sergeyovitch Pushkin, and "A Day in the Country" by Anton Chekhov. An afternoon tea will precede the readings at 2 p.m.

On Saturday, Jan. 24, the Quick Center will celebrate Russian costume and stage design with a lecture and art exhibit opening. At 6:30 p.m., Alla Rosenfeld, Ph.D., director of the Department of Russian Art and curator of Russian and Soviet Non-Conformist Art of the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, will present "Russian Stage and Costume Design 1900-1960." The lecture will give listeners a better understanding of the exhibit opening in the Quick Center's Walsh Art Gallery that day. "A World of Stage: Russian Costume and Stage Design from the George Riabov Collection of Russian Art" will run from Saturday, Jan 24, through March 21. The exhibit includes works by artists of the pre-Bolshevik years as well as Russian émigrés working in Western European and American productions.

Shortly after the lecture, at 8 p.m., the Yale Russian Chorus will offer a concert in the Kelley Auditorium. With a repertoire spanning the 12th through the 20th century, the chorus is known for its interpretations of Tchaikovsky, Bortnyansky, Kedrov and Chesnokov. Its latest CD, "Chants and Carols," hit the critic's choice list in The New York Times and was described by InTune Magazine as "an eye-bulging work of art ... In balance, timbre, and intonation, the 20-member choir is stunning."

On Thursday, Feb. 5, the Quick Center kicks off a series of Russian Theatre Readings with Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull." Ivan Turgenyev"s "Fortune's Fool" follows on Thursday, March 18, with Maxim Gorki's "The Inspector General" finishing the series on Thursday, April 15. All readings are at 7:30 p.m. in the Wien Experimental Theatre.

The stellar Amadeus Trio and distinguished actors James Noble and Kier Dullea will team up on Saturday, March 6, at 8 p.m. for a Quick Center production of "L'Histoire du Soldat" (A Soldier's Tale), one of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky's most-loved pieces. The intriguing program also includes works by Shostakovich, Tchaikowsky and Arensky. A pre-concert "Art to Heart" discussion with Laura Nash, Ph.D., director of Fairfield University's Classical Music Department, will take place from 7 to 7:40 p.m.

The next day, Sunday, March 7, the Salzburg Marionettes will take the stage with Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf." Prokofiev wrote the piece especially for children with each animal represented by a different instrument. The amusing marionettes that bring this tale to life should delight children of all ages.

On Sunday, March 21, the Quick Center will offer an afternoon devoted to Russian arts. The events begin at 1 p.m. with "Russian Masters of Music and Literature," a program of The Live Music Project. Founded by composer Daniel Smith and violinist Netta Hadari, in cooperation with the Quick Center, this new group will present Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings" and Shostakovich's "Chamber Music for String Orchestra, For the Victims of Fascism and War." In addition, the group will be joined by Michael Lonchar for a performance of selections from Fyodor Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground," with an original score written for this performance. A Meet the Artist "Art to Heart" event will take place after the show.

Later in the day, at 2:15 p.m., the Quick Center will host a Russian Food Tasting, followed by the 2:45 p.m. screening of "The Russian Ark."

The festival comes to a memorable close on Friday, April 16, at 8 p.m. with the Moscow Festival Ballet's performance of "Giselle." With a style that embraces the highest classical elements of the Boshoi and Kirov ballets, Sergei Radchenko, a legendary principal dancer with the Bolshoi, founded the Moscow Festival Ballet in 1989. The company has won rave reviews in tours of Europe, Asia and the United States and its production of "Giselle" left one reviewer marveling at the troupe's "apparently effortless energy, verve and perfect grace." The performance is sponsored, in part, by the New England Foundation of the Arts Expeditions program.

Tickets are available for single events, with discounts for students and seniors and some subscription plans. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at 203-254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit the website, www.quickcenter.com.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on May 9, 2003

Vol. 35, No. 292