Playing for Stalin

Playing for Stalin is a unique hybrid of stage play and

classical piano concert, featuring live performance by Gala

Chistiakova and intended by BeMuse for further productions

and wider audiences into 2022. Created around the music

and story of Russian dissident and legendary pianist Maria

Yudina and the memories of Dimitri Shostacovich, her life-

long friend and conservatoire contemporary, ‘Playing for

Stalin’ is a tragi-comedy on love, friendship, Russia... and the

horrors and occasional farce of a life in classical music –

especially under Joseph Stalin.

Maria publicly defied the Soviet authorities with her

outspoken religious, political and artistic beliefs, and

famously, publicly insulted Stalin himself. This play gives new

voice to one of the semi-lost icons of Russian music, a timely

reminder about the duties of an artist, the power of music

to connect, the price of compromise and the price, too, of

being a woman, in the astonishing career and music of Maria


On Interaction of Image and Sound
BEMUSE PERFORMING ARTS in partnership with the JOSEF AND ANNI ALBERS FOUNDATION and DAVID ZWIRNER present a multimedia project “On Interaction of Image and Sound”
with a performance by GALA CHISTIAKOVA, a Russian Italian concert pianist and a laureate of international competitions.

“Every colour, every form should speak with its own voice.”

Two artistic pairings: Albers and Zwirner, Midnight and Noon, Nicholas Fox Weber, David Zwirner books, 2016,P 130-131

“Hearing music depends on the recognition of the in-between of the tones, of their placing and of their spacing…"

"…color present themselves in continuous flux, constantly related to changing neighbors and changing conditions."

“ In musical compositions, so long as we hear merely single tones, we do not hear music. Hearing music depends on the recognition of the in-between of the tones, of their placing and their spacing (…) Equally a factual identification of colors within a given painting has nothing to do with a sensitive seeing nor with an understanding of the color action within the painting (…) our concern is the interaction of color; that is, seeing what happens between colors.”

“ Colors and hues are defined, as are tones in music, by wave length.”

1 Josef Albers, "Color reading and contexture," in Interaction of Color, 50th Anniversary Edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013)

Is it possible to “see” sound, is it possible to “hear” colour?

The project is a story of the universal interpretation of music through colours, the relationship between sound and colour and how they are perceived together, the concept of Synesthesia pioneered by Alexander Scriabin at the turn of the 20th century that formed his modernist vision and informed other forms of art, including visual art. The audience relives these ideas and see his music through colours as performed by


The visual part of the program comes from Josef Albers’ iconic “Homage to the Square” paintings, courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and world-renowned gallery David Zwirner, our partner in this program. Albers’ work showed how our perception of any given colour changes depending on the colour it is shown next to, just as our perception of sound changes depending on the harmony that one sound forms with another. Albers’ coloured squares on screen correspond to music tonalities derived from Scriabin’s theory.