Shauna Quill, executive director of the University of Chicago Presents concert series, has been profiled by the Chicago Tribune in recognition of her significant role in planning The Soviet Arts Experience. This collaborative arts festival will run from October 2010 to January 2012, assembling twenty-five of Chicago’s leading arts institutions to showcase over one hundred events across the city. These events will include more than fifty concerts, nine dance performances, eight art exhibitions, and two theater productions as well as numerous lectures, symposia, and classes. The Soviet Arts Experience will explore the essence of life behind the Soviet Union’s Iron Curtain by exhibiting the creative works of its visual artists, choreographers, composers, and dramatists.
From John Von Rhein’s article in the Chicago Tribune:
The idea of developing a multidisciplinary survey of art created under the Soviet system began to germinate in Quill’s mind in May 2009, when she found out over lunch with members of the Pacifica Quartet that the university’s resident quartet was planning to present a complete Shostakovich string quartet cycle here this season.
She thought: Why not expand the cycle into a comprehensive exploration of Stalin-era visual art, dance, music and theater? She quickly arranged a think tank of U. of C. scholars, which, she says, led to “a million wonderful ideas.”
Word spread quickly, and after the announcement of the festival last spring, the number of participants has jumped from 11 to 25. “I have had people calling from New York, California and even Moscow wanting to take part in this,” Quill reports. “I wish we had room for everybody!”
Given the fierce pressures put on Russian artists to conform to the dictates of Soviet communist society, inevitably any examination of the arts of that turbulent era must touch on the politics as well. That, says Quill, is where the festival’s educational component will prove essential. Numerous lectures, classes and symposiums are on the docket, and more are in the planning stages.