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June 21, 2015

‘Scriabin in the Himalayas’ to feature American Pianist Matthew Bengtson

Historic Multi-Media, Multi-Sensory Event in India Inspired by Alexander Scriabin’s Legendary "Mysterium" Set for June 21, 2015

(PHILADELPHIA) American Matthew Bengtson will be one of only three concert pianists from across the globe featured in “Scriabin in the Himalayas”, a magnificent tribute for the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin taking place on the outdoor terraces of Thikse Monastery in Ladakh, India on Sunday June 21, 2015. The two recitals will feature many of Scriabin’s greatest works for solo piano as well as Vocalises and a unique transcription of “The Divine Poem” for piano four hands. As the first concert pianist to perform Scriabin’s music in the foothills of the Himalayas, Bengtson will pay homage to the composer’s lifelong dream of an epic synesthetic performance in the Indians Himalayas, an apocalyptic opus he called the Mysterium.

Bengtson will be the solo pianist for the first of two recitals, performing at mid-day along with Himalayan Cham dancers and an olfactory score of timed scent diffusions as imagined by Scriabin himself. Critically acclaimed as a "musician’s pianist," Bengtson, a Steinway artist, is a versatile pianist, harpsichordist, and fortepianist who commands a diverse repertoire ranging from Byrd to Ligeti. He has been presented as a soloist and chamber musician in numerous concerts across Europe, Mexico and America. His discography includes the recording of complete Scriabin Sonatas, which The American Record Guide compared to legendary performances by Horowitz and Richter asking, “Has Scriabin ever been played better?” Fanfare magazine calls him “a Scriabinist for the 21st century ... upon whom future generations can rely for definitive interpretations.” (see complete Bengtson bio below)

“I’m quite thrilled to be invited to perform for this historic tribute to Scriabin,” says Matthew Bengtson, one of the world’s leading interpreters of the Russian composer’s brilliant music. “I’ve devoted a significant portion of my professional life to studying Alexander Scriabin and performing and recording his works,” added Bengtson. “So naturally, to play a key artistic role in bringing his dream of the Mysterium to life in such a sublime, magnificent setting is deeply gratifying for me, both as an artist and as a lover of great music. It definitely feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for everyone involved.”

The second half of the program, beginning at sunset, will feature pianists Coady Green and Christopher Wayne Smith, tenor Neil Latchman and an interactive light show based on Scriabin’s color tonal system. For those hoping to experience this very rare, multi-media concert event in person, find out more at

The concert will take place on June 21, the Summer Solstice, a date rich with meaning, especially for Scriabin. The progress of the Sun throughout the year symbolizes the process of attaining enlightenment, with the Summer Solstice celebrating the triumph of light over darkness and the union of self with the Divine, both motifs of paramount importance to Scriabin’s mystical philosophy. 2015 is also the centennial of Scriabin’s tragic death at age 43 and the all-day, two-part “Scriabin in the Himalayas” concert promises to be the most elaborate event anywhere in the world marking the anniversary.

Located at an altitude of 11,800 feet, Thikse Gompa commands breath-taking views of the Indus Valley and the Himalayas. As the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Ladakh, India, the sprawling 12-story complex bears a striking resemblance to the famous Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet and is filled with Buddhist stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and swords.

This once-in-a-lifetime experience is being offered at a time when the cultures of the Himalaya, unique in the world, have suffered a great loss. Amongst the tragic loss of life, it is believed that four of seven UNESCO world heritage sites in the Kathmandu valley have been severely damaged during the recent earthquake in Nepal. For this reason, a portion of the ticket proceeds are being donated to the Blue Shield (BS) - the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross - and their representative the International Committee on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) who are currently coordinating an action plan to support the restoration of Nepal’s rich cultural heritage.

For more details on this historic concert event, visit
For further information about pianist Matthew Bengtson, his touring schedule and his complete recordings, visit
Listen to Matthew Bengtson playing Scriabin’s Etude Op. 8 No. 12 in D minor, recorded live at Chatham University, Pittsburgh.

Sunday, June 21, 2015
Thikse Monastery, Ladakh, India

PART 1 - begins at midday
Matthew Bengtson (piano)
Étude op. 2 no. 1 in C# minor (arr. for LH by Jay Reise)
Sonata no. 1, op. 6 in F minor
Preludes from op. 11
Étude op. 8 no. 12 in D# minor
Mazurka op. 25 no. 4 in E major
Prelude op. 22 no. 1 in G# minor
Poème op. 32 no. 1 in F#
Sonata no. 5, op. 53


Prelude op. 67 no. 1
Sonata no. 9, op. 68 “Black Mass”
Deux Poèmes, op. 73
Sonata no. 10, op. 70
Poème, op. 63 no. 2 “Étrangeté”
Sonata no. 7, op. 64 “White Mass”

PART 2 - begins at sunset featuring Neil Latchman (tenor), Coady Green (piano) and Christopher Smith (piano) alongside Himalayan Cham dancers, an interactive light show and an olfactory score of timed scent diffusions.
Symphony Number 2 op. 29, transcription for piano four hands
Vocalise on op. 8 No. 8 in A-flat major: Lento (tempo rubato)
Vocalise on op. 8 No. 5 in E major: Brioso
Vocalise on op. 42 No. 4 in B major: Piacevole
Études op. 42
Vocalise on op. 8 No. 11 in B-flat minor: Andante cantabile
Vocalise on op. 42 No. 2 in F# minor Vocalise on op. 2 No. 1 in C# minor


Symphony Number 3 op. 43: La Divin Poème (The Divine Poem), transcription for piano four hands

BACKGROUND: Alexander Scriabin’s Mysterium
In the last decade of his life, the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin became increasingly obsessed with planning his Mysterium, a massive ritualized performance that he hoped would transfigure reality. Scriabin’s sudden death in 1915 prevented him from completing more than libretto and 55 pages of sketch material. To Scriabin’s friends, however, it was clear that the project as he conceived it was impossible to complete. Scriabin envisioned thousands of celebrants enacting a ritual that would occur over seven days and nights in a specially designed temple located in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. At a certain point, the vibrations thrown off by the performance would cause the temple to crumble, opening the ritual to the heavens. Scriabin hoped the participants themselves would ultimately be dematerialized, allowing them to achieve spiritual unity with divine cosmos.

In the Mysterium, Scriabin sought to revive the lost theurgic function of ancient mystery plays. Russian Mystic Symbolists had explored the possibility that a work of art could have a material effect upon reality, Theosophy had introduced him to the Vedic idea that the cosmos was permeated by a divine energy called Akasa, a single vibration that possessed spiritual properties of breath, sound, light, and touch. In the Mysterium, Scriabin believed he could attain the Symbolist ideal by channeling Akasa through the careful coordination of elements designed to stimulate multiple sensations. The work would combine a mythic symbolic text, rhythmicized speech and song, music based upon previously-unheard tonalities, colored lights and scents, ritual dancing and caresses, and the geometry of sacred architecture. The interaction of these elements would generate a vibration so powerful that it would trigger material disintegration, ecstatic universal death, and communal rebirth on a higher plane. By setting his Mysterium in India, he believed himself to be physically and metaphysically returning humanity to its spiritual origins.

Set at the Thikse Monastery in the centenary year of the composer’s death, Scriabin in the Himalayas combines music composed throughout Scriabin’s lifetime with vocalization, dance, and multimedia. The performances pay tribute to Scriabin’s idea of using multiple art forms to stimulate multiple senses for the purposes of spiritual uplift.

Until his death in 1915, Scriabin was working on an all-encompassing performance piece entitled Mysterium. It was an enormously ambitious spectacle that he hoped would take the form of a week-long performance in the Himalayas involving sound, light and scent in a pioneering multiuser, multimedia performance. This seven-day-long megawork would be performed at the foothills of the Himalayas in India, after which the world would dissolve in bliss. Bells suspended from clouds would summon spectators. Sunrises would be preludes and sunsets codas. Flames would erupt in shafts of light and sheets of fire. Perfumes appropriate to the music would change and pervade the air. At the time of his death, Scriabin left 72 orchestral-size pages of sketches for a preliminary work, Prefatory Action, intended to "prepare" the world for the apocalyptic ultimate masterpiece... - from the Scriabin Society’s website Anna Gawboy, May 2015

NOTE: Ms. Gawboy’s research explores the intersection of music theory, cultural history, and musical performance. In 2010 she collaborated with the Yale Symphony Orchestra and lighting designer Justin Townsend to produce a new staging of Alexander Scriabin’s “Prometheus: The Poem of Fire”, based on her extensive research regarding the interaction of music and lighting.

Matthew Bengtson - piano
Critically acclaimed as a “musician’s pianist,” Matthew Bengtson has a unique combination of musical talents ranging from extraordinary pianist, to composer, analyst, and scholar of performance practice, and thus is in demand as both soloist and collaborator. As a La Gesse Fellow, he has been presented in concerts in France and Italy, Italy and Hungary, at Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello, and in solo recitals at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. He has performed numerous times on the Pro Musica series in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He has performed with the Reading, Pottstown, Ridgefield and Bay-Atlantic Symphony Orchestras, and has appeared with violinist Joshua Bell on NPR’s “Performance Today” and XM Satellite Radio’s “Classical Confidential.” He has recently been named a Steinway Artist.

An advocate of both contemporary and rarely performed music, he commands a diverse repertoire, ranging from William Byrd to Berio and Ligeti. One special interest is the music of the early twentieth century, especially that of Alexander Scriabin and Karol Szymanowski. His doctoral research and first studio recording were devoted to Szymanowski’s 22 mazurkas. His interpretation of the complete Scriabin Sonatas can be heard on a recent release by Roméo Records. The American Record Guide relates his recording to performances by Horowitz and Richter, praises his “rich tonal colors and dazzling technique,” and asks, “Has Scriabin ever been played better?”

Mr. Bengtson studied piano performance as a Harvard undergraduate with Patricia Zander; he also studied contemporary literature with Stephen Drury, and chamber music and performance practice with Robert Levin. He studied with Ann Schein at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, earning his MM and DMA degrees in piano performance, minoring in harpsichord with Webb Wiggins. He studied fortepiano with Malcolm Bilson on a fellowship at Cornell University. He continues to perform on all three instruments, as soloist and as collaborator, as in the Aurelio Ensemble. He is involved in an extensive recording project of early English instruments of the Charles West Wilson collection, for Griffin Renaissance Records.

Mr. Bengtson has participated in many American music festivals, such as the Aspen Music Festival, the Summer Institute for Contemporary Piano Performance (SICPP) at New England Conservatory, and the Classical Workshop and Baroque Performance Institute (BPI) at Oberlin Conservatory. In Europe, he studied at the Internationale Sommerakademie “Mozarteum” in Salzburg, Austria, and the Centre Acanthes in Avignon, with Claude Helffer and at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, France, with Philippe Entremont. In Salzburg, he performed Boulez’s Sonata no. 1 in the Wiener Saal, and at Fontainebleau, he was awarded the Prix de la Ville de Fontainebleau for his performances.

Also known as a thoughtful writer on music, he was awarded the 2003 Stefan and Wanda Wilk Prize for Research in Polish Music for his paper The “Szymanowski Clash”: Methods of Harmonic Analysis in the Szymanowski Mazurkas. His comparative review of performances of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations is published in the New Beethoven Forum. His article on a competitive experience in Moscow was published in the Journal of the Scriabin Society of America. He teaches privately at the University of Pennsylvania and at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges, and is Vice-President of Tri-County Concerts Association. Besides his musical attainments, Mr. Bengtson was educated at Harvard University with a focus in mathematics and computer science. He reads Latin and Greek, is a 3-handicap golfer, a dan-level go player, and a chess FIDE master (FM).

Coady Green - piano
Coady Green has been described as “a virtuoso pianist with sensitivity, intelligence and charm”, and “accurate and exhilarating” (Musical Opinion, London), with “a strong and versatile technique capable of the most delicate coloring and tonal brilliance, rising to the challenges of extreme virtuoso demands with relish” (The Advertiser, South Australia). He gained his Bachelor of Music Performance and Masters of Music Performance, both with first-class honors, on scholarship from the University of Melbourne.

Neil Latchman - tenor
The international career of the Trinidadian opera singer Neil Latchman began in 1997 when he was chosen as the tenor to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the life of Maria Callas in London. In London he has performed as soloist at the Barbican Centre, the Royal Festival Hall, the Wigmore Hall, The London Palladium and St. John’s, Smith Square amongst other venues. In 1998 Neil made his debut with The Orchestral Soloists of The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden performing the songs of Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Christopher Wayne Smith - piano
Christopher Wayne Smith is an award-winning solo pianist and chamber artist who studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and graduated with honors at the Conservatoire in 2014. He has performed internationally at notable venues such as Steinway Hall, Purcell Room, Theatre Mwldan, and The Academy of Arts in Bulawayo. Christopher is a board director for the Liszt Society, regularly sets scores for the Annual Journal and is also joint Artistic Director and jury member for the annual Liszt Society, International Liszt Piano Competition.

Michel Roudnitska - timed scent diffusions
French-born Michel Roudnitska has been immersed in the world of perfumery since his early childhood under the influence of his father, the great scent artist Edmond Roudnitska. Like all original compositions, his fragrances bring to life memories, create dreams and kindle yearnings. From the luminous dryness of Frédéric Malle Noir Epices to the elegant sensuality of Parfums DelRae Amoureuse, creations of Michel Roudnitska are marked by sensitivity to form and originality of expression. Michel has also been a pioneer of olfactory performances over the last 20 years having collaborated on ballet and opera productions around Europe and Russia.

Dagny Rewera & Vincent Rebers - light artists
Dagny Rewera is an award-winning, London-based designer with degrees in Architectural Design from University of the Arts London and Product Design from the Royal College of Art. Her work sits at the cross section of nature and technology, with an appreciation of confronting and revealing the hidden dimensions of our everyday surroundings. She is the co-founder of the interdisciplinary design studio Bornanidea, which in 2013 was selected as one of the 50 talents that are shaping the future by Icon Magazine. After 5 years as a Creative Director of the company, she recently set up her own studio in London, taking commissions for a wide range of clients and exhibiting her work collectively and independently worldwide.

Vincent Rebers is a London and Berlin based multimedia artist with degrees in Media Design and Art in Context from the University of Arts Berlin. His interest in machines - how computers communicate with each other and how people interact and communicate with them - is a constant in the development of his work and thought processes. Specializing in laser lights, Vincent has worked on small to large scale performances worldwide, most recently a 5-day show shooting the Genome of Charles Townes - the inventor of the laser - into space at the Burning Man Festival in the United States.


Core of Culture
Directed by Joseph Houseal, Core of Culture (CoC) is an organization that intervenes on behalf of ancient dances and their practitioners. Today, CoC has become a respected facilitator, expert, creative force, consultant, advocate and scholarly advisor in the field of endangered dance. Houseal has overseen dance preservation and research projects in Ladakh, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and the Kingdom of Bhutan, where CoC executed a 5-year project culminating in a touring exhibition of Buddhist art and Cham dance.

eks why zed
A London-based creative agency, curatorial advisory and ideas studio, eks why zed bridges the gap between culture and commerce, offering a range of services from product, print and digital design to producing unique exhibition and events, artistic commissions and bespoke creative projects. Past curatorial projects include House of the Nobleman: The Return at Boswall House Regent’s Park, New ReVisions: Art in Residence at Neo Bankside and Nigeria Monarchs by George Osodi at Bermondsey Project. Upcoming in March 2016, eks why zed will curate The Polska Projekt at Saatchi Gallery.

Zanskar Productions
Zanskar Productions is an independent production company, set up to promote and document cultural and artistic initiatives bringing Eastern and Western traditions closer together. Founded by a musician, a cinematographer and a photographer, it explores the medium of music, film and photography to pursue its artistic objects and help preserve Eastern cultures undergoing rapid change.

Blue Shield / ICOMOS
The Blue Shield is the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross and the Blue Shield network consists of organizations dealing with museums, archives, audiovisual archives, libraries, as well as monuments and sites. The Blue Shield, founded in 1996, comprises representatives of four Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working in this field, one of which is the International Council on Monuments and Sites. All are coordinating and strengthening international efforts to protect cultural property at risk of destruction in armed conflicts or natural disasters.

Quintessentially Travel
Quintessentially Travel is the sister company of Quintessentially, the world’s leading members-only Lifestyle Management and Concierge Club. As a standalone provider of luxury tailor-made travel, they offer a service that is available to all, crafting holidays which are tailor-made from start to finish so clients are able to explore the globe’s most glamorous, sought-after and remote destinations, all while being treated to VIP benefits and experiences along the way. They ensure arrival in style be it by private jet or even on the back of an Indian elephant! From the ordinary to the extraordinary, the known to the unknown, they don’t just create holidays; they create memories that last a lifetime.

Russian Art & Culture
Russian Art and Culture started out as a blog and is now the leading online platform for Russian art and culture in the world. They work with some of the world’s leading cultural organizations including numerous museums, galleries, theatres, publishers and ballet companies to bring you news, exhibitions, and events on Russian culture throughout the world. In April 2014 Russian Art and Culture was voted one of the Top Ten Arts and Culture blogs alongside Tate Modern and the British Library at the UK Blog Awards.

Steinway & Sons
Steinway & Sons was founded in 1853 by German immigrant Henry Engelhard Steinway in a Manhattan loft on Varick Street and is dedicated to the ideal of making the finest pianos in the world. The result is instruments renowned for their unsurpassed quality. Pianos with such superior sound and responsive touch that they enchant the most demanding pianists. Each Steinway grand piano, for example, takes nearly a year to create.

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