Los Angeles plays host to Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina


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With the Soviet-born composer Sofia Gubaidulina pushing 80, some might wonder if this prolific artist is coming close to retirement. It’s one of several issues she addressed in a conversation at CalArts last week, during a break from preparations for a mini-festival in her honor at REDCAT, CalArts’ performance space in downtown L.A.

“Maybe I will need to,” Gubaidulina said of slowing down, her words translated from Russian. “It’s an open question, because there is not enough strength –- health, you know.”


The composer –- whom no less than Dmitri Shostakovich encouraged to find her own way musically –- looks feisty enough, and players clamor for her to write new scores for them. Among the more recent ones is “Glorious Percussion,” which on Thursday receives its American premiere at Walt Disney Concert Hall, with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic and five percussion soloists.

“I have many interesting projects, more than I can ever make,” the composer said. “Performers want more and more. And there are always new soundscapes to explore.”

She mentions that she is currently finishing a piece for the cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic and that the Cleveland Orchestra is expecting something, too. There’s also the the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, who has been promised a chamber work to go with the arresting concerto Gubaidulina already wrote for her.

“A lot of ideas, wonderful ideas, are coming from performers,” the composer said. “I wish I could do them all. But I can’t do them all.”

Click here to read the full interview.

-- David Mermelstein