May 27, 2020
Pianist Igor Levit To Give 20-Hour, Livestreamed Performance of Satie’s "Vexations," Presented by The Gilmore on Saturday, May 30 at 8:00 a.m. ET
Left: Pianist and 2018 Gilmore Artist Igor Levit; Right: Complete score of Satie’s Vexations
Left: Pianist and 2018 Gilmore Artist Igor Levit; Right: Complete score of Satie’s Vexations
Felix Broede (i.e., photo of Igor Levit)

Streaming partners for the event are The New Yorker and Der Spiegel

KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN (May 27, 2020) — To raise awareness for the plight of artists worldwide amidst the coronavirus pandemic, pianist and 2018 Gilmore Artist Igor Levit gives a 20-hour, live-streamed, marathon performance transcending geographical borders and time zones. On Saturday, May 30 at 8:00 a.m. ET, from the b-sharp Studio in Berlin, he performs one of music history’s longest compositions, Erik Satie’s Vexations, which lasts approximately 20 hours. To support this project, Mr. Levit draws upon the $300,000 awarded to him two years ago as a Gilmore Artist.

The Gilmore presents the livestream via YouTube at youtu.be/zqQS_HTunCY (for the event page, visit thegilmore.org/streaming/igor-levit-vexations). The performance may also be accessed through streaming partners The New Yorker (newyorker.com) and Der Spiegel (click here) and will be shared by Mr. Levit himself on Twitter (@igorpianist).

Reflecting on the project, Mr. Levit said:

“It has always been a strong wish of mine to be able to perform Erik Satie's Vexations. While written in the 19th century, this piece was revolutionary thanks to its atonal harmony. The few notes—a theme and two variations—fit on just one sheet. The 840 repetitions though herald early on a future of aesthetic repetitiveness.

“The sheer duration of over 20 hours of Vexations doesn't feel like a "nuisance" or "torture" to me, as the title would suggest, but rather a retreat of silence and humility. It reflects a feeling of resistance.

“That's why it feels right to play the Vexations right now. My world and that of my colleagues has been a different one for many weeks now and will probably remain so for a long time. Vexations represents for me a silent scream.”

Erik Satie composed Vexations circa 1893, though the work was unknown until an associate of the composer brought it to light in 1949. The world premiere in 1963 was organized by avant-garde composer John Cage and performed by a team of pianists in shifts at Manhattan’s Pocket Theatre. The meaning of the work is unclear and has been widely debated, and it has been theorized as parody, as a theoretical exercise, and even as a response to a failed romance.

ABOUT IGOR LEVIT

Igor Levit combines “tonal charm, intellectual drive and technical brilliance” (The New Yorker). With an alert and critical mind, he places his art in the context of the civic, cultural and political life surrounding him and understands the two as inseparably linked. The New York Times describes Igor Levit as one of the “most important artists of his generation.” The Süddeutsche Zeitung described him as a “stroke of luck” for today’s concert scene and the Zeit, titling Igor Levit “does not want to be just the man who presses the keys.”

Born in Nizhni Novgorod in 1987, Igor Levit moved to Germany with his family at the age of eight. He completed his piano studies in Hannover with the highest score in the history of the institute. His teachers included Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, Matti Raekallio, Bernd Goetzke, Lajos Rovatkay and Hans Leygraf. Igor Levit was the youngest participant in the 2005 International Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv, where he won silver, the special prize for chamber music, the audience prize and the special prize for the best performance of contemporary compulsory pieces. In spring 2019 he was appointed professor for piano at his alma mater, the University of Music, Theatre and Media Hanover.

For the 2020/21 season Igor Levit focusses on the piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven. The first complete recording of Igor Levit’s Beethoven piano sonatas, released by Sony Classical in September 2019, received excellent reviews and immediately reached Number 1 in the official classical charts in 2019. Igor Levit will present the cycles of the complete piano sonatas at the Salzburg Festival, the Lucerne Festival as well as the Musikfest Berlin as well as in renowned concert halls such as at the Elbphilharmonie, the Konserthuset Stockholm and the Wigmore Hall in London. In May 2021 Igor Levit will make his debut tour of Asia with a Beethoven Sonata Program, which will take him to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Further recital debuts will take him to the Firkusny Festival in Prague and to Disney Hall in Los Angeles.

In the 2020/21 season Igor Levit is “Artist in Residence” of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks as well as “Portrait Artist” of the Philharmonie Essen. He will make guest appearances with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Antonio Pappano), the Orchestre de Paris (Manfred Honeck), the Cleveland Orchestra (Franz Welser-Möst), the Berlin Philharmonic (Paavo Järvi) and the Concertgebouw Orkest (Antonio Pappano). In the USA he makes debuts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic – both conducted by Herbert Blomstedt. In addition to working with musicians of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, he performs chamber music on tour with the Hagen Quartet.

Last season Igor Levit was “Featured Artist” at the Barbican Centre in London. Highlights of past seasons include debuts with the Staatskapelle Dresden and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, European tours with the Vienna Philharmonic, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Igor Levit is an exclusive recording artist of Sony Classical. With his debut CD of Beethoven’s last five sonatas, he won the BBC Music Magazine’s Newcomer Prize 2014 and the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist Prize 2014. Igor Levit’s third solo album with Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations and Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated received the Instrumental Prize and the Recording of the Year Award at the Gramophone Classical Music Awards in 2016. In October 2018 Sony Classical released Igor Levit’s fourth album titled “Life,” with works by Bach, Busoni, Bill Evans, Liszt, Wagner, Rzewski and Schumann.

Igor Levit is the winner of the 2018 Gilmore Artist Award and “Instrumentalist of the Year 2018” of the Royal Philharmonic Society. For his political commitment Igor Levit was awarded the 5th International Beethoven Prize in 2019. This was followed in January 2020 by the award of the “Statue B” of the International Auschwitz Committee on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

In Berlin, where he makes his home, Igor Levit is playing on a Steinway D Grand Piano – a donation of the “Independent Opera at Sadler’s Wells” foundation.

For more information, visit igor-levit.com.

ABOUT THE GILMORE

Created in 1989 to honor the legacy of Irving S. Gilmore, the organization is known for its biennial Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, a three-week celebration of keyboard music; the Gilmore Awards, a regular series of awards presented to deserving pianists based on a non-competitive process; and commissioning of composers to create new works for the keyboard. Since 1989, 14 biennial Festivals have been enjoyed by thousands of visitors to west Michigan. Eight Gilmore Artists and 36 Gilmore Young Artists have been recognized, and 34 new works have been created for the piano.

In recent years, the organization has grown considerably. Two distinctive concert series—Piano Masters and Rising Stars—ensure that world-class keyboard music is presented continually. In addition, a major program dedicated to community engagement and music education touches the lives of thousands of area children and adults by offering neighborhood concerts, piano lessons in elementary schools, music therapy, group lessons for adults, toddler-friendly concert experiences, summer piano camp, master classes, and much more.

For more information, visit thegilmore.org.

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Saturday, May 30 at 8:00 a.m. ET
Live-streamed video performance

Presented by The Gilmore with streaming partners The New Yorker and Der Spiegel

Igor Levit, piano

SATIE Vexations

The Gilmore presents the livestream via YouTube at youtu.be/zqQS_HTunCY (for the event page, visit thegilmore.org/streaming/igor-levit-vexations). The performance may also be accessed through streaming partners The New Yorker (newyorker.com) and Der Spiegel (click here) and will be shared by Mr. Levit himself on Twitter (@igorpianist).

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Press contact:

Shuman Associates
shumanpr@shumanassociates.net | (212) 315-1300

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