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Shostakovich and The Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy


Thursday, September 28, 2017, 7:30 PM EDT


Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall

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About the Event

Participating Artists:

Created by James Glossman and Philip Setzer
Written and Directed by James Glossman

The Emerson String Quartet

Eugene Drucker, Violin

Philip Setzer, Violin

Lawrence Dutton, Viola

Paul Watkins, Cello

Len Cariou, Dmitri Shostakovich
Jay O. Sanders, Josef Stalin
Ali Breneman, Younger Woman
Alex Glossman, Younger Man
Evelyn McGee-Colbert, Middle Woman
Paul Murphy, Older Man
Linda Setzer, Older Woman

Carolyn Kelson, Stage Manager
Bettina Bierly, Costume Designer
Christopher and Justin Swader, Scenic Designers
Julie Duro, Lighting Designer
Jeff Knapp, Multimedia Designer


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featuring the EMERSON STRING QUARTET accompanied by an ensemble of seven actors inlcluding LEN CARIOU and JAY O. SANDERS, Directed by James Glossman

In Anton Chekhov’s classic short story The Black Monk, a brilliant scholar is haunted by hallucinations of a black monk and unravels in his obsessive quest for genius. This mystical story resonated with Dmitri Shostakovich, and he always dreamed of adapting it for an opera. But decades of suffering under an oppressive political regime wreaked havoc on the composer’s life, and he left the work unfinished. In a very special new project, the Emerson String Quartet is reimagining Shostakovich’s struggle to retell Chekhov’s story through a staged performance of his 14th String Quartet, accompanied by a cast of seven actors. This bold intersection of chamber music and theater speaks to the continuing adventurousness of the Emerson, who celebrate their 40th anniversary this season and have treated us to more inspired performances in Richardson Auditorium than we can count. Princeton University Concerts is proud to have been a part of commissioning this work, as part of our increasing mission to celebrate and nurture interdisciplinary, non-traditional projects. Dive deeply with us into the stories of Chekhov, Shostakovich, love, art, and madness.  Join us immediately following the production for a TALK BACK conversation between Professor Simon Morrison, violinist Philip Setzer and Writer/Director James Glossman, free to ticketholders.

Running time: approximately 90 minutes without intermission



Read Chekov's short story, The Black Monk, prior to the concert and join a free discussion with renowned Chekhov scholar Professor Ellen Chances, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University. The talk will take place in the Assembly Room at Nassau Presbyterian Church at 6:15pm and is free to all ticketholders.  The book can be bought at Labyrinth Bookstore on Nassau Street in Princeton, New Jersey for a 15% discount by mentioning the event.

This piece is co-commissioned by Princeton University Concerts, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival and SUNY Stony Brook. Running time: approximately 90 minutes without intermission.

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