Weinberg Conference at Manchester marks start of centenary celebrations

An international four-day music conference at The University of Manchester on 24-27 January 2019 marked the beginning of the celebrations of Mieczysław Weinberg’s centenary year.

The Polish-born composer twice escaped from Nazi invasions and finally settled in Moscow. His substantial output – which includes some of the most powerful Holocaust-commemorative music ever written – has only recently begun to be (re)discovered, and this has been counterpointed by a new scholarly fascination with the composer.

The conference was co-sponsored by the British Academy and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute Warsaw, and brought together scholars and practitioners from East and West, with delegates from Australia, Belarus, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Poland, Russia, Sweden, the USA and the UK speaking on topics as diverse as ‘Weinberg’s early years’ to ‘Weinberg as a Bronze Age Figure’.

A robust programme of lectures – including an interview and Q&A with Victoria Bishops, Weinberg’s first daughter – dovetailed with a full cycle of Weinberg’s 17 string quartets, which were performed by the Quatuor Danel, artists-in-residence at the University.

Complementing this were two further concerts of vocal chamber works given by Rosalind Dobson (soprano), Michelle Assay (piano) and Roberto Carrillo-Garcia (double bass), including the song cycle Old Letters, the Sonata for Solo Double Bass and the Piano Sonata No. 6, all performed to great acclaim.

A highlight of the event for many was the surprise appearance of internationally renowned Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer, who flew in from Basel in the morning and back out to Frankfurt that evening especially for the occasion.

Kremer not only delighted the audience by his playing, but also gave its members an intimate snapshot of his ten years of experience with Weinberg as well as his work as artistic director of Kremerata Baltica.

Sincere thanks and heartfelt congratulations to co-convenors Michelle Assay and David Fanning on a memorable and supremely successful event.

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