Middlebury

Cultural events to celebrate 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, Russia

September 5, 2003

picture of a boyMIDDLEBURY, Vt. - To celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Russian city of St. Petersburg this year, one need travel no further than Middlebury, Vt.  Titled "What Became of Peter's Dream? Petersburg in History and the Arts," the annual Middlebury College Clifford Symposium will take place from Sept. 18-20 and will include lectures, panel discussions, a concert, a film screening and related museum exhibits.  All events are open to the public and, with the exception of the concert, all events are free.

Called "the most abstract and premeditated city in the whole world" by Fyodor

Dostoevsky, one of its most famous natives, Petersburg was built by Tsar Peter the Great where no habitation had ever existed.  A polymath who studied shipbuilding, architecture and engineering in Europe, Peter was determined to make Russia a great sea power when he sited the city at the conjunction of the Neva River and the Gulf of Finland in 1703.  Peter's "window on the West"?later known as Petrograd and Leningrad, and now to its inhabitants simply as "Piter" - has bridged continents and cultures ever since.

"What Became of Peter's Dream? Petersburg in History and the Arts" will begin on Thursday, Sept. 18, with a lecture by James Cracraft, professor of history at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Author of numerous monographs about the art, architecture and culture of Petersburg, Cracraft will introduce the weekend symposium with a talk titled "The Petersburg of Peter the Great."  His lecture will be held in the Concert Hall in the Center for the Arts on Route 30, at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 18.

On Friday, Sept. 19, at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m., there will be panel discussions on the visual arts and literary traditions associated with Petersburg.  Visiting scholars will include Anne Curtis Odom, curator of one of the Middlebury College Museum exhibitions related to the symposium.  Odom, who is also a 1958 alumna of Middlebury, will discuss the decorative arts circa 1900.  Other participants will be John Bowlt, professor of Slavic studies and director of the Institute of Modern Russian Culture at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and a noted authority on Russian modernism, as well as David Bethea, professor of Slavic studies at the University of Wisconsin, former director of the Middlebury College Russian School, and distinguished Pushkin scholar.

From Middlebury's own faculty, scholars who will participate in the panels include Professor of History of Art and Architecture John Hunisak; author and translator Michael Katz, dean of the Language Schools and Schools Abroad and professor of Russian; and Professors of Russian Thomas Beyer and Sergei Davydov.  Professor of Russian Kevin Moss and Visiting Professor of Humanities James West will moderate the panels.

The symposium will continue Friday evening, Sept. 19, with a program of Russian music

by Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev performed by cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han. The concert is part of the College's Performing Arts Series.  Tickets are required and may be purchased at the Box Office in the Center for the Arts, or by calling the Box Office at 802-443-6433.

Two related exhibitions will open on Sept. 19 and remain on view through Dec. 7 at the Middlebury College Museum of Art.  On display will be "What Became of Peter's Dream? Court Culture in the Reign of Nicholas II," a collection of ceremonial artifacts, religious objects, luxurious household items, and family portraits and memorabilia designed by Fabergé and other Russian gold and silversmiths.

 

Also on display will be "City of Shadows: Photographs of Petersburg by Alexey Titarenko." Using long exposure times, the photographer captures scenes of Petersburg's architectural monuments, people and dramatic weather.  The photographs have toured Russia, Europe and other cities in the United States.

The symposium will continue on Saturday, Sept. 20, at noon in the museum when Titarenko will discuss his photographs of Petersburg. The lecture will be delivered in Russian, and simultaneously translated by Professor of Russian Kevin Moss.  The film "Russian Ark," shot entirely in the Hermitage Museum in Petersburg and featuring a breathtaking re-creation of a 19th-century imperial ball, will be screened on Saturday afternoon and evening as part of the College's Hirschfield Film/Video Series.  An introduction to the film by Tatiana Smorodinska, assistant professor of Russian at Middlebury College, will precede the afternoon screening.  Screenings are at 3 and 8 p.m. in Dana Auditorium in Sunderland Language Center on College Street (Route 125).

Other events in the fall that focus on late 19th-century Russia will include the production of Anton Chekhov's play "The Cherry Orchard" Nov. 20-22, directed by Richard

Romagnoli of the College's theatre department.  A concert of Russian music sponsored by the music department will also take place Sunday, Oct. 12.  Several Middlebury College organizations are sponsors of the Clifford Symposium: the Museum of Art, the Office of the Secretary of the College, the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs, and the Russian and East European Studies Program.

For further information, please contact the office of public affairs at 802-443-5198, or consult http://cat.middlebury.edu/~cliffsym/.

To follow is events calendar information:

"What Became of Peter's Dream? Petersburg in History and the Arts"

Middlebury College Clifford Symposium, Sept. 18-20

Thursday, Sept. 18

Keynote Address: "The Petersburg of Peter the Great"
4:30 p.m., Center for the Arts, Concert Hall, South Main Street (Route 30)
James Cracraft, professor of history, University of Illinois at Chicago, and author of "The Petrine Revolution in Russian Imagery" and "The Petrine Revolution in Russian Architecture;" and editor and co-author of "Peter the Great Transforms Russia."

Opening Reception:
"What Became of Peter's Dream? Court Culture in the Reign of Nicholas II"
"City of Shadows: Photographs of Petersburg by Alexey Titarenko"

5:30 p.m., Center for the Arts, Museum of Art, Lower Lobby, South Main Street (Route 30)

Friday, Sept. 19

Museum Exhibitions

(through Dec. 7)
"What Became of Peter's Dream? Court Culture in the Reign of Nicholas II"
Center for the Arts, Middlebury College Museum of Art, Christian A. Johnson Gallery
Providing a visual context for investigating Russian culture in the momentous years of the early 20th century, this exhibition includes a rich array of ceremonial artifacts, religious objects, luxurious household items, and family portraits and memorabilia designed by the firm of Fabergé and other celebrated turn-of-the-century Russian gold- and silversmiths. Catalog available. Organized by the Middlebury College Museum of Art and Anne C. Odom, curator emerita of the Hillwood Museum and Gardens, Washington, D.C.

(through Dec. 7)
"City of Shadows: Photographs of Petersburg by Alexey Titarenko"
Center for the Arts, Middlebury College Museum of Art, Upper Gallery
Titarenko's photographs employ long exposure times to capture ghostlike images of the city's architectural monuments, slowly moving crowds, and ever-changing moods and weather. Inspired by the music of Shostakovich and the characters of Dostoevsky, "City of Shadows" has toured Russia, Europe and other U.S. cities.

Panel discussion: "Art and Architecture of Petersburg"
10 a.m., Center for the Arts, Concert Hall, South Main Street (Route 30)
John Hunisak, professor of history of art and architecture, Middlebury; Anne Odom, curator emerita, Hillwood Museum and Gardens, and curator of "What Became of Peter's Dream: Court Culture in the Reign of Nicholas II;" John Bowlt, professor of Slavic studies, University of Southern California. Chaired by James West, visiting professor of humanities, Middlebury.

Panel Discussion: "Literary Visions of Petersburg"
2 p.m., Center for the Arts, Concert Hall, South Main Street (Route 30)
David Bethea, professor of Slavic studies, University of Wisconsin; Sergei Davydov, professor of Russian, Middlebury; Michael Katz, dean of Language Schools and Schools Abroad and professor of Russian, Middlebury; Tom Beyer, professor of Russian, Middlebury. Chaired by Kevin Moss, professor of Russian, Middlebury.

Concert: David Finckel, cello, and Wu Han, piano
8 p.m., Center for the Arts, Concert Hall, South Main Street (Route 30)
Cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han are major fixtures on the world chamber music scene and welcome performers at Middlebury. Their program of sonatas by Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich complements the Clifford Symposium and the Museum exhibitions on St. Petersburg. Sponsored by the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series. Reserved seating.
Tickets: $12/$10/$5; available Monday, Sept. 8, from the Box Office in the Center for the Arts, or by calling the Box Office at 802-443-6433.

September 20, Saturday

Gallery Talk: Alexey Titarenko
12 p.m., Center for the Arts, Middlebury College Museum of Art, Upper Gallery, South Main Street (Route 30)
The artist will discuss his works in the exhibition "City of Shadows: Photographs of Petersburg by Alexey Titarenko."

Film: "Russian Ark"
3 and 8 p.m., Dana Auditorium, Sunderland Language Center, College Street (Route 125)
Alexander Sokurov's stunning film unfolds in one unbroken camera take.  The camera floats through the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, engaging real and imagined characters from Russian and European history.  Critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it "One of the most astonishing films ever made."  An introduction to the film by Tatiana Smorodinska, professor of Russian at Middlebury College, will precede the afternoon screening. In Russian with English subtitles. Sponsored by the Middlebury College Hirschfield Film/Video Series. (95 minutes, 2002, Russia)

All events are open to the public and, with the exception of the concert, all events are free.  For further information, please contact the office of public affairs at 802-443-5198, or consult http://cat.middlebury.edu/~cliffsym/.