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Firebrand presents music for social justice

Posted by Christina Jedra  March 28, 2013 10:00 AM

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The following was submitted by Firebrand: 

This April, Firebrand Concert Series will present its last chamber music program of the season. The program is centered on themes of social justice and will include string quartets by Dmitri Shostakovich, Felix Mendelssohn, and the premiere of a commission by Firebrand Concert Series’ Composer in Residence Oliver Caplan. In addition to a keynote performance at St. Paul’s Episcopal Parish where the concert series is in residence, Firebrand will hold three Open Performances of the works at Malden’s YMCA, Teen Enrichment Center and Senior Center. These Open Performances are generously made possible by a 2013 grant from the Malden Cultural Council and the support of the City of Malden. 

Mr. Caplan’s piece is inspired by the Bike to the Sea’s Northern Strand Project and dedicated to the people of Malden. The Northern Strand Project will create a bicycle and pedestrian trail lined with a community garden extending from the Malden/Everett area to Nahant. Mr. Caplan chose to dedicate this piece to Bike to the Sea’s Northern Strand Project because of the benefits the trail will offer to the environment and to the community’s public health through nutrition, exercise and social wellness. For many, the Northern Strand Project represents an act of social justice,since urban planning projects can help to correct inequality in access to environmental and health benefits for minorities and economically disadvantaged constituents.    

Mr. Caplan writes of the piece, “Like tributaries that converge to form rivers that flow into the sea, communities are built by individuals who collaborate to achieve something greater than the sum of their parts. For the past twenty years, ‘Bike to the Sea’ has been a catalyst for community collaboration. Its reach extends far beyond the trail to the spirit of Malden.” 

Like Caplan, Shostakovich also addresses social justice concerns in his works. In response to Soviet oppression and state-sponsored violence of the 1930s, Shostakovich expressed through his string quartets what he could not show in his more scrutinized symphonic works. At a time when Russia was projecting nationalism, fascism and anti-Semitism, Shostakovich’s compositional voice wove irony and Jewish folk tunes throughout his works, and his compositional style was considered “formalist”for having espoused Western influences. In other musical displays of social justice, the composer wrote his Symphony No. 13 to commemorate a massacre of Ukrainian Jews in World War IIand his String Quartet No. 8 to protest the Communist Party’s stronghold on Soviet work and life,while publicly dedicating the piece “to the victims of fascism and war.”

As part of Firebrand’s devotion to performing masterworks of the chamber music genre, the program also includes Felix Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, op. 13. 

Shostakovich String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, op. 110
Oliver Caplan “To the Sea,” World Premiere
Mendelssohn String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, op. 13

Open Performances Dates and Venues*
April 16th, 2013 2:30pm –Malden Senior Center, 7 Washington St., Malden
April 22nd, 2013 3pm –Malden YMCA, 99 Dartmouth St., Malden
April 22nd, 2013 5:30pm –Malden Teen Enrichment Center, 1 Salem St., Malden
*Free and Informal performances including discussion on the music 

Firebrand Keynote Performance
April 20th, 2013 7:30pm –St. Paul’s Episcopal Parish, 26 Washington St., Malden

Attracting exceptional and highly sought-after professional musicians with advanced degrees from the world’s top conservatories, Firebrand performs high-quality, innovative, educational, and fun chamber music concerts for the greater Boston area. Firebrand Concert Series is committed to honoring and celebrating the vibrant diversity of cultures in Malden through creative and varied programming with which audiences can identify. 

Audience members are welcome to join the artists for a free reception following the April 20th performance.Tickets for this performance can be purchased for $15 via or at the door for $20. Family and group discounts are available at the door by e-mailing a request to or by calling St. Paul’s Parish Office at (781) 324-9544 during regular business hours.

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