Dmitri Shostakovich. Photo by Roger & Renate Rössing, credit Deutsche Fotothek.

The Joker: Dmitri Shostakovich in the 1930s

Odyssey Festival Orchestra

Wednesday 10 May 2023, 19:30

Past Event
The Joker: Dmitri Shostakovich in the 1930s Past Event


Shostakovich Overture, The Nose, Op. 15 (1928)
Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 35 (1933)
Shostakovich Orchestral fragments from Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Op. 29 (1934)
Shostakovich Suite from The Clear Stream, Op. 39a (1935)
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, Op. 47 (1937)


Aleksandar Madzar piano
Sam Balchin trumpet
Roly Botha narrator (Shostakovich)
Alex Macqueen narrator (Stalin/Pravda)
Odyssey Festival Orchestra
Peter Ash conductor

The Joker explores composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s relationship with the authorities in Soviet Russia in the 1930s, with excerpts from opera and ballet music and complete performances of two of his greatest works from this period.

The narration will be drawn from Shostakovich’s own writings and other contemporary sources – most notably the main soviet newspaper Pravda (Truth) which, in 1936, accused the composer of writing ‘muddle instead of music’.

After this Shostakovich had to resort to writing in a kind of musical code to survive. The narration explores how he avoided being sent to a labour camp and emerged triumphant with his Fifth Symphony.

The soloists in Shostakovich’s brilliant First Piano Concerto will be the distinguished Serbian master, Aleksandar Madzar, and the orchestra’s star young trumpeter, Sam Balchin.

The conductor is Odyssey’s Artistic Director, Peter Ash. Odyssey Festival Orchestra was launched in 2022. The players are drawn largely from young musicians in the London area aged 18-30. They are recruited from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Odyssey aspires to present great works from the orchestral repertoire in their cultural and philosophical context, using actors and specially constructed scripts to draw the audience to great masterpieces.

Duration: approx. 2 hours (incl. interval)

Ticket Information

£45, £30, £15, £10

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