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More Than Music: Shostakovich in South Dakota

 (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
(Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Can you draw a line through the brutal Siege of Leningrad, to the war in Ukraine, to a recent special performance of Shostakovich in South Dakota?

The Mount Rushmore State is the setting for us to explore Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony, also known as the “Leningrad Symphony.”

The piece was composed during the Siege of Leningrad when Hitler’s army surrounded a city of 6 million people for 872 days. Estimates suggest 1.5 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives.

For Mark Bertrand, the pastor of Sioux Falls’ Grace Presbyterian Church, the symphony evokes the resilience being shown by Ukraine to Russia’s invading army.

Our guide, Joe Horowitz, was present for this special performance by the South Dakota Symphony.

Both the stories of the siege of Leningrad and Shostakovich’s response were recounted by its musical director, Delta David Gier. Gier says Shostakovich acquired a gift to inspire listeners to think about things bigger than themselves.

Joe Horowitz tells us more about this performance and the orchestra’s Lakota Music Project. Horowitz says this unique plan, one that involves nine Indian reservations, makes the South Dakota Symphony the “happiest, most engaged professional orchestra” he’s encountered in the U.S.

“Shostakovich in South Dakota” was scripted and edited by Joe Horowitz. The technical producer was Peter Bogdanoff.

The Shostakovich performances were performed by the South Dakota Symphony conducted by Delta David Gier, and by the Dakota String Quartet.

Arthur Farwell’s Pawnee Horses, and Hako String Quartet, were recorded on Naxos by pianist Benjamin Pasternack and by the Dakota Quartet.

Jeffrey Paul’s Wind on Clear Lake was recorded on a South Dakota Symphony CD by Bryan Akipa and members of the South Dakota Symphony.

Joe Horowitz is most recently the author of a novel: The Marriage: The Mahlers in New York.Earlier ‘More Than Music’ programs can be found here

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Rupert Allman