In “Yiu Song-lam X HKFO: Pravda”, the second episode to our musical trilogy, we walk through the looking-glass to see our lives’ many absurdities and ironies, and seek to answer one of life’s most fundamental questions – what is “truth”? How do musicians represent “truth” in their music? Do musicians dare to speak the truth?
At the core of the programme is Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony – a musical work best known to be a musical portrayal of the Russian dictator Joseph Stalin – but for all the bad reasons. A symphony of tragedy, despair, terror, violence with a shimmer of triumph, the work is an aural depiction of the musician under the Stalinist regime, where millions died and more lived in constant fear. Shostakovich himself was publicly denounced and his status reduced to a “non-person”. It was only at Stalin’s death when the composer could finally give a sigh of relief and speak the “truth”.
Also featured in the programme is David Lang’s “Statement to the Court” – a minimalist work with text taken from the passionate speech by the late US Senator Eugene Debs, as he addresses the court that has just found him guilty of sedition for speaking out against American participation in World War I. It is here where we will see music and the courage to speak one’s idea of truth at play here. Last but not least, the centrepiece of the programme features Hong Kong’s renowned oboist Yiu Song-lam performing Bach’s Concerto for Oboe d’amore in A Major, BWV 1055 – a reconstruction of the lost concerto from an arrangement made later for the harpsichord.