Does Asheville Symphony feature all Russian composers?
Today’s batch of burning questions, my smart answers, and the real deal:
Question: I saw an ad in the newspaper about the Asheville Symphony Orchestra featuring all Russian composers in an upcoming performance. I think it’s a little insensitive as Russia brutally invades Ukraine. Why was this choice made? Will this symphony stick with this program? Maybe you could comment on that?
My answer: Oh damn not yet!
True answer: Asheville Symphony executive director Daniel Crupi took charge of this one, noting that the performance actually featured a half-Russian program.
“Our Masterworks 3: Folklore Fantasy program, featuring works by Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky, took place last Saturday, March 19,” Crupi told me via email. “As you would rightly suspect, our schedules are actually drawn up several months – and in this case, more than a year – in advance to allow time to rent the necessary rooms, make arrangements with the (s) soloist(s), to engage the required symphonic musicians, compile program notes, design the program itself, advertise subscription packages, etc.”
As you can imagine, changing the program is hard to do quickly.
“Program changes are therefore considered with extreme caution, as there are several factors at play, including the livelihoods of our musicians, as repertoire changes also affect the number and types of players needed for a gig. “, said Crupi.
In this case, the program was not “all Russian”, as the reader declared.
“In fact, half of the program included music by renowned Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, with both pieces based on Finland’s national collection of epic poetry,” Crupi said. “Sibelius is known as Finland’s greatest composer and, through his music, helped establish a distinctly Finnish cultural identity which, in turn, inspired his homeland to declare independence from Russia in 1917, following the (Russian) revolution.”
Crupi noted that the other two featured composers, Igor Stravinsky and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, “were indeed born within the borders of the Russian Empire”.
“However, Stravinsky left Russia in his youth and only returned once, in 1967, after 48 years in exile,” Crupi said. “He was renowned for being outspoken in his criticisms of the Soviet Union and its policies, and so he spent most of his life and career in France and the United States.”
“Tchaikovsky, too, had a mixed relationship with the Russian Empire, as he had Ukrainian roots on his father’s side,” Crupi continued. “Tchaikovsky spent most of his summers in Ukraine, drawing inspiration for many of his most famous works from its rich cultural history.”
Historical records indicate that Tchaikovsky wrote 30 or more works during his visits to Ukraine.
“Many Ukrainian musicians, according to online sources and videos, have turned to Tchaikovsky’s music as a source of comfort during this conflict,” Crupi said.
He also noted that it seems doubtful that either composer supported the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign nation on its border.
“Unlike other classical composers, neither Stravinsky nor Tchaikovsky were known to have expressed nationalist or expansionist views (in public or in their music), and both led lives that would suggest they would not have supported the actions of the current Russian administration – although both are long deceased,” Crupi said. “Furthermore, the pieces performed by the Asheville Symphony are now in the public domain, so there is no monetary benefit (as far as we know) from the performance of these works for members of the current Russian administration or the Russian elite.”
Question: What should be built on the large flat surface being cleared next to the Coca-Cola distribution building? Either way, it requires a huge amount of earthwork. It will be part of the view from Enka Middle School on Sand Hill Road. Of course, the view could hardly be worse. Too bad it’s not a nice green lawn or meadow for the students to enjoy.
My answer: If someone stores Russian vodka on this site, they are in big trouble.
True answer: actually, I wrote on this site in November, which is above DeBruhl’s used-car supermarket, but it looks considerably different now. I’m sure other people will notice it too, so it’s worth mentioning again quickly.
It will be the site of a “Duke Energy construction site for a substation reconstruction project,” Duke Energy regional manager Jason Walls said in November.
A substation next to the site is being rebuilt. The large level site will be used to store vehicles and other equipment.
The property the reader noticed will become the main entrance to the substation. The filing yard is in the city of Asheville, and the city has issued a permit for it.
Duke’s permit application to the city states that the yard will be used “for the storage of materials and equipment to support the expansion of the existing Enka 230kV substation which is located on an adjacent lot. depot is under the jurisdiction of Asheville, and the substation itself is under the jurisdiction of Buncombe County.”
The project will include a gravel yard, retaining wall, gravel access road with concrete deck and landscaping,” according to the permit. Much of this work appears to be complete.
This is the opinion of John Boyle. To submit a question, contact him at 232-5847 or email@example.com