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MIT Symphony Orchestra plans Russian celebration Dec. 9

Alexey Shabalin, assistant conductor of the MIT Symphony Orchestra (MITSO), will make his debut conducting the ensemble in a night of all-Russian music inspired by the Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin and featuring award-winning baritone Anton Belov.

The Dec. 9 program will be Shabalin's first opportunity to conduct the orchestra since coming to MIT seven years ago. For the past three years he has served as the orchestra's assistant conductor.

Shabalin, who graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1995, toured the world as a concert violinist with the Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra before coming to MIT.

Shabalin will conduct the orchestra in five works, including Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 and Georgy Sviridov's "The Blizzard." He said he is eager to conduct the performance because "for many years, Tchaikovsky symphonies have not been played by MITSO."

"The Blizzard," the most contemporary piece on the program, is considered a lasting testament to the romantic writings of Pushkin. It is "almost never performed in the U.S.," Shabalin said.

Belov, the Moscow-born baritone soloist, will perform three arias: Onegin's aria, from Tchaikovsky's opera "Eugene Onegin"; Yeletsky's aria, from Tchaikovsky's "The Queen of Spades"; and Aleko's cavatina, an aria from Rachmoninov's "Aleko."

Belov, who holds a bachelor's degree in music from the New England Conservatory and an artist's diploma and master's degree in music from the Juilliard School, is no stranger to the stage or the music he will be performing with MITSO. Belov sang the title role in "Eugene Onegin" at the Juilliard Opera Center in 2002. This will, however, be his first time performing at MIT with MITSO.

The inspirations for both "Eugene Onegin" and "The Queen of Spades" came from stories of the same names written by Pushkin, and the pieces are full of the intense romanticism, tragedy and drama present in Pushkin's literary works.

Pushkin's narrative poem "The Gypsies," a tale of love and murder, inspired Rachmoninov's "Aleko," and will contribute to the overall tone of the evening.

While the music itself will no doubt touch the audience, Shabalin said the members of MITSO will also benefit from this concert. "I know the students will enjoy playing these emotional pieces," Shabalin said.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. at Kresge Auditorium. Free tickets are available in Lobby 10 and Room 4-243 the week of the concert or they can be purchased for $5 at the door. For more information, call x3-2826.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 7, 2005 (download PDF).

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