[An excerpt from Dr. Chang Tou Liang’s review from his classical music blog – pianomania.]
Russian composer Vladimir Martynov’s Utopia Symphony began as a commission in 2004 by Michael Tay, then-ambassador of Singapore to the Russian Federation. Its original title was Singapore: A Geopolitical Utopia, premised upon a week-long visit by the composer and his wife violinist Tatiana Grindenko to the island republic where they experienced the sights, sounds and tastes of the modern Southeast Asian city-state. First performances of Singapore took place in Moscow and Singapore in 2005, the latter involving the Singapore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lim Yau at Espanade Concert Hall.
The 2020 iteration of the work has less to do with geography or politics but rather the pursuit of a universal and ideal state of mind. Its new title Utopia does away with the somewhat cumbersome Singapore tagline, focusing instead on what nation states and governments dream about, which is to create the ideal environment for their citizens and residents to inhabit.