Leningrad! Orchestral Outing (HIS3010)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


Dr Kowalsky organised this field trip to the Ulster Hall, 22 March 2019, 7-10PM to watch the the Ulster Orchestra, conducted by Rafael Payere, perform Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra and Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony (no. 7). Twenty-four students and the tutor (25 people in all) attended.

This orchestral outing was built into a week's lesson plan on HIS3010. “The Soundtrack of War” has been a module highlight since HIS3010 launched in Spring 2006. I have built this music in war theme around the single most important musical and propagandistic event of World War II. This was the performance of the Shostakovich Leningrad Symphony at the height of the Battle of Leningrad, in the besieged city itself, on 9 August 1942. There has never been a musical event quite like this. In class, we focus on the backstory of the work’s composition, the improbability of its premiere, and the galvanizing effect it had on the Allied war effort. I have long found that this story invariably resonates strongly with our students. It pushes them to explore new directions in history: the cultural front in World War II, the Soviet war effort, and the unifying power of great music. The 22nd of March 2019 was a a rare occasion when the Leningrad Symphony was performed by our own Ulster Orchestra, and I didn't want students in HAPP to miss the opportunity to see this stunning work performed live in person. This concert sold out quickly, but advance planning and generous funding from the School allowed 24 students to attend together with their tutor. The response was overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic. Many local students informed me that they had never set foot in the Ulster Hall nor seen serious music performed live. For some, it was a life-changing event.

Period22 Mar 2019
Event typeOther
LocationBelfast, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionLocal