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Galina Ustvolskaya black and white headshot from the 1950s

Piano Sonatas of Galina Ustvolskaya with Conor Hanick and Simon Morrison
Monday, October 28, 2024 at 7:30 pm
The Freight & Salvage, Berkeley

Other Minds welcomes Conor Hanick for a performance of the complete piano sonatas of Galina Ustvolskaya (1919-2006) at The Freight & Salvage in Berkeley on Monday, October 28, 2024. The performance will be preceded by a talk on Ustvolskaya’s music by musicologist and 20th Century Russian and Soviet music specialist Simon Morrison.

Born in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) in 1919, Galina Ustvolskaya’s expressive and vigorous music was deemed problematic in the USSR early in her career and did not receive widespread attention in her home country until the 1960s and 70s, and abroad only in the late 1980s. She taught at the Leningrad Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music from 1947-1977 and over the past three decades her music has experienced an increasing amount of performances and acclaim in the West. Ustvolskaya’s six piano sonatas were written between 1947 and 1988. The earlier sonatas have been compared by Alex Ross to the “static, starkly dissonant pieces” of Erik Satie and the violent, cluster-filled later sonatas, a critic once referred to her as “the lady with the hammer,” are reminiscent of the piano music of American experimentalists Henry Cowell and Leo Ornstein. Other Minds is pleased to presenting a rare performance of all six sonatas as a single event in Berkeley this October.

About Conor Hanick

Conor Hanick

Pianist Conor Hanick is regarded as one of his generation’s most inquisitive interpreters of music new and old whose “technical refinement, color, crispness and wondrous variety of articulation benefit works by any master” (New York Times). Hanick has recently performed with the San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Orchestra Iowa, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, been presented by the Gilmore Festival, New York Philharmonic, Elbphilharmonie, De Singel, Caramoor, Cal Performances, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and the Park Avenue Armory, and worked with conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen, Ludovic Morlot, Alan Gilbert, and David Robertson.

A fierce advocate for the music of today, Hanick has premiered over 200 pieces and collaborated with composers ranging from Pierre Boulez, Kaija Saariaho, and Steve Reich, to the leading composers of his generation, including Nico Muhly, Caroline Shaw, Tyshawn Sorey, Samuel Carl Adams, and Anthony Cheung.

Hanick is the director of Solo Piano at the Music Academy of the West and serves on the faculty of The Juilliard School, Mannes College, and the CUNY Graduate Center, and is a founding member of AMOC*.

About Simon Morrison

Simon Morrison in glasses and a black shirt.

Simon Morrison is an archival historian specializing in 20th-century Russian and Soviet music with expertise in opera, dance, film, sketch studies, and historically informed performance. Having earned unequaled access to repositories in Russia, he has unearthed previously unknown sketches, scores, letters, diaries, official documents, contracts, financial records, photographs, and other sources related to musical life from the tsars through the Soviets. He is a leading expert on composer Sergey Prokofiev, and at present researching the career of Tchaikovsky as well as a new political biography of Shostakovich.

Morrison writes frequently for academic and general audiences. A regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and London Review of Books, he has authored feature articles along with opinion pieces for Time Magazine, the New York Review of Books, and New York Times. His biography of Lina Prokofiev, the composer’s first wife, was prominently featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC World News television, and WYNC radio. His most recent book, a history of the Bolshoi Ballet based on exhaustive archival research in St. Petersburg and Moscow, has been enthusiastically reviewed in major newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, The Guardian (UK), Wall Street Journal, and New Republic.

A sought-after speaker, Morrison has taught academic seminars and delivered public lectures in Israel, Hong Kong, China, Denmark, Canada, Thailand, the UK, Russia, and across the United States. He has been featured on national and international broadcasts (both radio and television) in Russia, Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and across the United States. Recent appearances include spots on American Public Radio’s signature program Marketplace, The Current on CBC (Canada), and Start of the Week on BBC television.

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