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Events worldwide in honour of Sofia Gubaidulina’s 90th birthday include major concert series in Russia and Germany and a new recording of recent works from Deutsche Grammophon.

Russia’s leading contemporary composer and a pioneering figure of female creativity, Sofia Gubaidulina, reaches the impressive milestone of 90 years on 24 October. Born in 1931 in the Tartar Republic of the USSR, she studied at the conservatoires in Kazan and Moscow, and developed a unique musical voice, combining modernism, improvisatory elements, poetic sensibility and religious mysticism. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Gubaidulina has lived in a small village outside Hamburg, Germany, where she has delighted in the peace and quiet needed to fulfil the huge number of international commissions she has received in recent decades.

Two of her newest large-scale pieces are featured on a new Deutsche Grammophon recording by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Andris Nelsons, released on 22 October (DG 4861457). Vadim Repin is soloist in Gubaidulina’s third violin concerto Dialogue: I and You dating from 2018, and the collection offers the first recording of her powerful orchestral score The Wrath of God, premiered at the Wien Modern festival last year. The recording is completed with The Light of the End, her extraordinary orchestral work exploring the conflict between the natural overtone series and tempered tuning. The score was written for the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2003 and Andris Nelsons, who is music director of both the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Boston Symphony, conducts three performances at Symphony Hall in Boston on 21-23 October in the lead up to the composer’s birthday.

Gubaidulina continues as featured composer at the Gewandhaus until summer 2023, with a series of performances in 2021/22, her 90th birthday season. The opening night in Leipzig in September featured her Triple Concerto conducted by Andris Nelsons and the focus continues with Baiba Skride as soloist in Gubaidulina’s first violin concerto, Offertorium, on 11/12 November. Events later in the Leipzig season include the Viola Concerto with Antoine Tamestit as soloist and conductor Jaap van Zweden (17/18 March) and The Canticle of the Sun featuring cellist Christian Giger and the Gewandhaus Choir (24 April). Alongside these major works is a host of chamber music pieces spread across the season, launched with a birthday open house Gubaidulina Day at the Gewandhaus on 24 October.

Moscow, the city where Gubaidulina lived, studied and composed for over 30 years, hosts the Russian premiere of The Wrath of God with the Svetlanov State Symphony Orchestra (13 November). The programme conducted by Vladimir Jurowski also features Mirage, the cantatas Rubayat and Night in Memphis, and Revue Music for orchestra and jazz band. Other Moscow events include portrait concerts both at the Gnessin Academy (2 November), linked with her receipt of an honorary professorship, and at the Moscow Composers' House with a programme presented by many of her closest Russian performer friends (27 November).

Gubaidulina’s native Tatar region celebrates with a festival in Kazan featuring chamber and orchestral works (25-31 October), while the Tallinn Academic Symphony Orchestra performs the Estonian premiere of The Wrath of God and Dialogue: I and You (14 November). Leonard Elschenbroich is cello soloist in The Canticle of the Sun with the RIAS Chamber Choir in Berlin and Bremen (27/29 November), Domingo Hindoyan conducts the Polish premiere of the Triple Concerto in Katowice (2 December), and the In Situ Art Society in Bonn presents a festival focus with Natalia Pschenitschnikova, the Asasello Quartet and Ensemble Musikfabrik (2-5 December).

Gubaidulina highlights in the Spring and Summer include the Dutch premiere of The Wrath of God by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra under Nicholas Collon in Utrecht (13 May), a feature in the Cleveland Orchestra’s end of season festival with the organ work Light and Darkness coupled with The Light of the End conducted by Franz Welser-Möst (27/28 May), and a portrait concert by the Munich Chamber Orchestra at the Pinakothek der Moderne museum in Munich (2 July).

Sofia Gubaidulina is published by Sikorski.

>  Further information on Work: The Wrath of God

Photo: © F. Hoffmann / La Roche Ltd

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