Dissident: Songs for Anna Akhmatova
Poets and writers are often the most dangerous of resistors. In the 1930s, Joseph Stalin put Ukrainian-born poet Anna Akhmatova on his watch list for writing what he deemed to be subversive poetry that worked to undermine his regime. Without access to printing presses, and because publication was dangerous, Akhmatova disseminated her poetry by word of mouth.
In the years since her death in 1966, composers around the world – from Sergei Prokofiev to John Tavener to Iris DeMent – have further spread her words by putting them to music. Dissident: Songs for Anna Akhmatova is a 70-minute showcase of those songs performed by Kansas City soprano Victoria Botero, along with internationally renowned vocalist Vanessa Thomas, pianist Brad Cox, string duo Betse Ellis and Clarke Wyatt, pianist Piotr Wiśniewski, and cellist Meredith McCook.
The concert is part of Botero’s Cecilia Series which features the music of women performers from the Middle Ages through today. The program includes brief readings of Akhmatova’s poems and songs using her texts, performed in Russian and English.