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International Scriabin 150 Festival
* Online *
11-13th November 2022
(10am - 6pm, Eastern Time)
For More details -- See Schedule on SSA Website!!!

Festival Schedule, Friday, November 11, 2022  

10:00-10:30 am EST     Welcome from the SSA Executive Board and from international Scriabin societies, Tribute to late festival patron A.S. Scriabin

10:30 am-11:30 am        Lecture: “Scriabin at 150,” by Harlow Robinson (USA)

11:30 am-12:00 pm        Live Art and poetry inspired by Scriabin’s piano music: Bobbi Bicker (UK), art + Yoon Seok Shin (UK/Korea), Presentation: Live Art and Poetry on Scriabin,” by Bobbi Bicker (Artist, UK), Yoon Seok Shin (Pianist, Korea), Sherry Grant (SSA International Liaison/Festival Co-director)

12:00-12:30 pm              Lecture: “Exploring the Relation Between Color and Harmony in Scriabin’s Music,” by Martin Kaptein (Founder, Scriabin Club, Netherlands)

12:30-1:00 pm                Lunch break

1:00-1:30 pm                  Recital: Anna Fedorova (Pianist, Ukraine)

1:30-2:00 pm                  Lecture: “Philosophy and Scriabin,” by David Proud (Philosopher, UK)

2:00-3:00 pm                 Lecture Recital: “Scriabin’s Opus 11 Preludes Revisited,” by James Palmer (SSA Secretary/Festival Co-director)

3:00-3:30 pm                 Presentation: “Pioneering Scriabin Recordings,” by Farhan Malik (SSA Treasurer/Festival Co-Director)

3:30-4:00 pm                 Recital: Svetozar Ivanov (Pianist, Bulgaria/USA)

4:00-4:30 pm                 Lecture: “Scriabin & Synesthesia,” by Sean Day (Neuroscientist, USA)

4:30-6:00 pm                Young Artists Recital**


Ceren Su Sahin —Selected Preludes from Opus 11

Xiaoya Liu — Sonata No. 2, Op. 19
Melissa Ooi — Sonata No. 4, Op. 30
Yu Qian — Piano Concerto, Op. 20, III. Allegro Moderato
Luca Pompilio — 5 Preludes, Op. 16
Anthony Ratinov — Sonata No. 5, Op. 53
Humay Gasimzade — Sonata No. 8, Op. 66
Hyojin Shin — Fantasie in B minor, Op. 28         

Festival Schedule, Saturday, November 12, 2022

10:00-10:30 am             Recital: Matthew Bengtson (SSA Vice-President/Festival Co-director)

10:30-11:30                     Lecture: “Scriabin at 150: Deciphering the Enigma” by Prof. Jay Reise (Composer, USA)

11:30 am-12:00 pm       Haiku Readings: John Stevenson, Garry Gay, John Thomson, Zoe Grant, Ron C. Moss, Daniela Misso, Milan Rajkumar, Antoinette Cheung, Sherry Grant

12:00-12:30 pm.             Lecture: “Poetry on Synesthesia,” by Owen Bullock (Haiku Poet, Australia)

12:30-1:00 pm                Lunch break

1:00-1:30 pm                  Recital: Dmitry Rachmanov (SSA President/Festival Co-director)

1:30-3:30 pm                 Piano Master Class with Anatole Leikin (live zoom)

3:30-4:00 pm                 Lecture on Theosophy by Murray Stentiford (Theosophical Society, New Zealand)

4:00-4:30 pm                 Lecture: Scriabin's Hand Injury: Rae de Lisle (NZ)

4:30-5:00 pm                 Presentation: Scriabin and Jazz by Tomás Jonsson (Pianist, USA)

5:00 – 6:00pm               Panel discussion: “Scriabin at 150,” including mementos from the History of SSA

Festival Schedule, Sunday, November 13, 2022

10:00-10:30 am               Lecture-Recital: Alexey Chernov (Pianist, Russia)

10:30-11:30 am                Lecture: “Untempered Reality: Russian Musical Messianism from Aleksandr Scriabin to Ivan Wyschnegradsky,” by Prof. Rebecca Mitchell (Canada/USA)

11:30-12:00 pm                Presentation: “Orchestral Transcriptions of Scriabin Works,” by Thomas Goss (New Zealand)

12:00-12:30 pm                Recital: Mikhail Voskresensky (Pianist, Russia)

12:30-1:00 pm                  Lunch break

1:00-1:30 pm                    Lecture-Recital: Bruno Vlahek (Croatia)

1:30-3:30 pm                   Piano Master Class with Jerome Lowenthal (live zoom) 

3:30–5pm                          Film Premiere: Scriabin in the Himalayas by Jarek Kotomski (filmographer, UK) featuring Matthew Bengtson

5-6pm                                Panel discussion: Final Thoughts, Q&A (live zoom)

*** Masterclass (with Jerome Lowenthal)

Gahyun Kim —      Sonata No. 4, Op. 30
David Ruiz Gil  —   Poeme-Nocturne, Op. 61 
Jingxuan Shen  — Sonata No. 9, Op. 68

*Note: Zoe Grant (aged 8, NZ) will be reading 250 Japanese short form poems throughout the festival, featuring 250 haiku poets from around the world  

** WATCH Sherry's interview with Jarek Kotomski

** WATCH Sherry's interview with Simon Nicholls

** WATCH Sherry's interview with Joe Patrych


Presentation Summaries

Rae de Lisle (MNZM, PhD, NZ): Scriabin's Hand Injury

Scriabin suffered from pain in his right hand and arm for most of his career which affected his playing and composition. Little was known about pianistic injury at this time, and even less how to treat it.  Because of the recurring nature of Scriabin’s problem there could be many reasons: a technique which was less than biomechanically sound, the fact that he was prone to anxiety but also perhaps that he was suffering from chronic pain. This presentation explores these possibilities in the light of current research, and questions whether today’s knowledge would have changed the outcome for Scriabin.

David Proud (philosopher, UK): Philosophy and Scriabin

Scriabin was a composer deeply immersed in philosophy, in particular the German philosopher Hegel, whom he frequently quoted from, and my presentation will focus upon one particular Hegelian idea that Scriabin was struck by and applied in his compositions as I will demonstrate how philosophy and music can work together. The Hegelian idea is that quantity in growing indefinitely transforms into quality and this is a manifestation of inner experience as Hegel speculated that the entire history of the world also conformed to this evolutionary process of gradual accumulation and growth and upon reaching a degree of saturation humankind would terminate in a world catastrophe leading in turn to a new evolution, a new increase in tension a new crisis. Scriabin, whose late sonatas for instance are constructed according to a uniform succession of states, associated this philosophy of life with the specific structure of his major works which to him represented a series of gradual expansions systematically and logically evolving in the direction of a final ecstasy.

Owen Bullock (haiku poet, Australia): Synesthesia and Haiku 

I’ll define synesthesia briefly (as senses felt together or blended), and talk about an example from music, in the compositions of Scriabin. Then we’ll look at examples of synesthesia in haiku. Hopefully, the audience will gain a greater understanding of how synesthesia can be used as a technique, even if you’re not synesthetic, and also, in a nuanced way, how it differs slightly from the concept of sense-switching which is sometimes used in the literature.


Bruno Vlahek (pianist/composer, Croatia) 

Lecture-Recital on Scriabin's 4th Piano Sonata

Scriabin's Fourth Sonata is considered as a turning point in his composition style. Written in 1903, it was a year of turbulent changes in his personal and professional life which reflect in this piece. Preceding the break with tonality and tradition of later works, it is still colored by romantic aura that starts giving a way to the new philosophy of mysticism and ecstatic „flight to a distant star“. The presentation will touch some of the Sonata's key elements such as symbolism of numbers and aesthetic ideas that impregnate this fascinating work.

Rebecca Mitchell (Russian history specialist, USA): Untempered Reality: Russian Musical Messianism from Aleksandr Scriabin to Ivan Wyschnegradsky

This talk offers a discussion of shifting musical and philosophical conceptions of the “Russian Idea” – the idea that Russia has a unique, salvific mission to play in the world – in the musical world of both Aleksandr Scriabin and his creative disciple, Ivan Wyschnegradsky (1893-1979). While Scriabin’s music, in particular his unfinished Mystery, drew heavily on theosophical thought, for many of his contemporaries it symbolized the ultimate expression of the unique spiritual power of Russian art. Similarly, Ivan Wyschnegradsky initially envisioned the transformation of human existence through a universal artistic “Mystery” that he was called to create after Scriabin’s death. By 1943, struggling under the Nazi occupation of France, Wyschnegradsky explicitly reframed this envisioned spiritual transformation of humanity as the embodiment of the “Russian idea”. Eliding the existing Soviet Union with an imagined spiritual Russia in his philosophical “Third Testament”, Wyschnegradsky freely drew upon Soviet Promethean discourse alongside Eurasianist and religious-philosophical strands current in First Wave émigré cultural circles. Though his music has received relatively little popular acclaim, Wyschnegradsky was thus in the center of émigré debates over reinterpreting the “Russian Idea” – the historic role of Russia – after shattering defeat in the Civil War. This talk will examine the development of the “Russian Idea” and its applicability to the musical creativity of both Scriabin and Wyschnegradsky.

Jay Reise (Emeritus Professor of Music Composition University of Pennsylvania, USA): Scriabin at 150: Deciphering the Enigma

Scriabin's compositional methods have been a hotly debated topic since the premiere of Prometheus in 1910. They are still so enigmatic that they were described in a recent collection of essays as "...the Holy Grail to the music theoretical community." Expanding on my 1983 article, "Late Skriabin: Some Principles Behind the Style,"; I will present what I believe are the basic procedures Scriabin used to generate his music.

Martin Kaptein (pianist, Holland): Exploring the relation between color and harmony in Scriabin’s music

Alexander Scriabin is a composer known to have had synaesthesia, however

only one work exists with a documented color accompaniment, namely his

5th Symphony. It was valuable for multiple reasons to explore this system

and apply it to a different piece of his, to the 8th Piano Sonata, with the

ultimate goal of performing this sonata with a color accompaniment worked out

according to the schemata Scriabin applied to the 5th symphony. The central

goal is the element of historical performance practice - to create a performance

practice with colours that is historically informed by Scriabin’s system as derived

from the 5th symphony. The values presented by this research cover a deeper

understanding of Scriabin’s harmony, such as his reliance on dominant 7 chords,

and motific work, such as the importance of augmented motifs, his synaesthesia,

very deeply interconnected with the latter, as well as practical aspects that

come with performing a Scriabin piece with a color accompaniment. The latter

aspects include discovering ways to choose appropriate colors and synchronize

the switching of colours with a live piano performance, as well as detecting

noticeable changes in my own piano performance, i.e. how the process of adding colors to the 8th sonata significantly influenced my way of interpreting the work.

Murray Stentiford (theosophist, New Zealand): Scriabin and Theosophy 

Theosophy is a world view to encompass the Universe, beyond the largely physical conceptions of western-oriented culture today. But Scriabin was enormously inspired by the depth and mystery of Theosophy, especially as his inner world of experience, with all its colour and subtlety, found a natural home within Theosophy. This presentation will touch briefly on the following topics:- * Why were Scriabin and artists inspired by Theosophy? * What does Theosophy have to say about Scriabin's world view? * Could a tighly trained Clairvoyant see what Scriabin saw? * Geoffrey Hodson, Theosophical seer par excellence. Music Forms * Beyond Synesthesia

Alexander Serafimovich Scriabin (1947-2022): In Memoriam
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