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Darwin Symphony Orchestra: Wolf Totem

Chinese composer and conductor Tan Dun is best known for scoring the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, as well as composing the music for the medal ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics. He is a composer of great versatility and imagination who makes accessible creations, be it for the cinema, concert hall or opera house. Wolf Totem is no exception.

Based on Jiang Rong’s eponymous novel, Dun’s concerto is inspired by the story of wolves and their importance in the ecosystem, and has been described by British double bassist Dominic Seldis – who performed the world premiere of the concerto with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2015 – as ‘beautiful’ and ‘haunting’, and a musical score in which you can “almost smell and taste the countryside of China and Tibet.”

The world’s great orchestras have been lining up to perform Dun’s work, and now the Darwin Symphony Orchestra (DSO) performs his music for the first time in this extraordinary piece for solo double bass and orchestra, performed by one of Australia’s leading instrumentalists Stuart Thomson.

Alongside Wolf Totem, the DSO will perform Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9. When characterising his 1945 work Shostakovich predicted "musicians will like to play it, and critics will delight in blasting it." Shostakovich was right. The public loved it and the Soviet officials hated it. Less than a year after its premiere, Soviet critics censured the symphony for its ‘ideological weakness’ and "failure to reflect the spirit of the people."

The people in power saw this symphony as a calculated provocation and made the composer’s life almost unbearable. Shostakovich would not premiere another symphony until the death of his oppressor, Stalin, in 1953. 

Also featuring in this MasterSeries is Borodin’s In the Steppes of Central Asia and the ‘Polovtsian Dances’ from his opera Prince Igor, all under the baton of the DSO’s esteemed Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Matthew Wood.

Sat 26 Aug | 7.30pm | Darwin Convention Centre

See the event listing.

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