Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Watch: String Quartet Plays for Opposition Protest in Moscow
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 12:00 AM
The New Russian Quartet, the resident string quartet at the Moscow Conservatory, has lent its support to the protests in Moscow against the allegedly fraudulent December 4 parliamentary elections. On Dec. 10, the ensemble played the Third Movement of Borodin's String Quartet No. 2 on a balcony overlooking the demonstration and posted it on YouTube.
The protest against what some view as vote-rigging in favor of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party during the polls was authorized by the authorities. Police dispersed the demonstration, however, when a crowd began marching towards downtown Moscow, which had not been permitted. The number of demonstrators in Moscow ranged from a conservative estimate of 25,000 by the police to 80,000 to 100,000 by organizers.
The wind-blown snow and Moscow's Bolotnaya (Marsh) Square are the striking backdrop to the New Russian Quartet's performance. The video was first featured on Norman Lebrecht's Artsjournal.com blog.
UPDATE - DEC. 13: Julia Igonina, first violinist of the New Russian quartet, describes in an e-mail how the ensemble's first idea was to play on the stage in the square, but logistically it was not possible (with microphones, music stands, etc.). So instead the foursome played from a balcony where there was an Internet feed. A Russian firm called ParaClassics provided the technical support. She continued:
"I have always thought, and will continue to think that music is non-political. However, musicians cannot but see what happens all around in the real world, news and events, with which they do not agree with. This is especially so due to events taking place in Russia for the past few days. A lot of different people were present at the demonstrations on the 10th of December, after the unfair elections in Moscow.
"There were a number of artistic people in attendance - actors, directors, musicians, writers. All those people did not follow a specific political party. They came with calm, but with strong approach to say that Russia is not a country for lies, dirt, aggression, hate and fear. These people want to live in honesty and so that their children are surrounded with beauty and positive actions. They want their voices to be heard and were worth something in their lives in their country. We, the New Russian Quartet, joined the demonstrators and tried to speak our minds the best way we can - through music."
On Monday, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev ordered an investigation of alleged election fraud.