Nations are dying not from a heart attack. First their language is taken away.
There are people who say that Ukrainian is a dialect of Russian, or that the two languages are very similar. When traveling in Poland or Slovakia, Ukrainian speakers have no problem understanding the locals and they in turn tend to understand spoken Ukrainian. On the other hand, in Russia if you speak Ukrainian, you will not be understood. So the question is: are the two languages really similar?
Ukrainian is the national language of Ukraine. It belongs to the Eastern Slavic languages, and is therefore part of the Indo-European group of languages. It includes 46 million speakers, which makes it the second (after Russian) most widely spoken Slavic language.
Kostyantyn Tyshchenko, a professor of linguistics at Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University, made a list of 82 specific features of Ukrainian grammar and phonetics. According to this list, Ukrainian has more features in common with Belarussian (29), Czech and Slovak (23), Polish (22), Croatian and Bulgarian (21) and Slovenian (20), than it has with Russian (11).
Genealogy of the Ukrainian People
The Ukrainian people as a nation appeared at the time of Kyivan Rus, the major Slavic state on the grounds of modern Ukraine, in the 9th-13th centuries. However, the consolidation of the Ukrainian nation as well as the establishment of the Ukrainian language was blocked due to the fact that after the Mongol attack in the 13th century, Kyivan Rus was partitioned and its land was annexed by the Duchy of Lithuania and Poland.
Many historic documents prove that the Ukrainian language, and Ukrainian state, appeared earlier than the Russian ones. Russian comes from the Old Slavonic language, which was introduced by Kyivan colonizers to Muscovites, who were essentially Finno-Ugric. Their language then mixed with Mongolian, reflecting Muscovy’s centuries-long Mongol occupation, and hence has very few similarities with other Eastern Slavic languages.
The phenomenon of “a Russian-speaking Ukrainian”
During the 400 years of occupation of Ukrainian lands by the Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union, the use of Ukrainian was banned 134 times by the Russian government. It also banned the Ukrainian church, printing of Ukrainian books, traditional songs, Ukrainian-language schools, theaters and libraries. It confiscated religious books and declared Ukrainian cultural activities to be harmful.
In the 20th century, Ukrainians striving for their own identity and independent state were executed, deported to Siberia, tortured and jailed. The most massive murder of Ukrainians took place during the 1932-33 Great Famine genocide (known as the Holodomor in Ukrainian), during which millions of deaths were recorded.
After the Holodomor, the government moved Russians – and therefore Russian speakers – into the depopulated Eastern Ukrainian areas. The Russian government was not satisfied with repressing and banning Ukrainian language and culture. It implemented the policy of russifying the Ukrainian language, in order to make it similar to Russian. It is why even today there are many people in Ukraine who consider Russian to be their native language.
By Viktoria Vovkanets
“The helicopter approaches closer than any other vehicle to fulfillment of mankind’s ancient dreams of the flying horse and the magic carpet.”
Ihor Sikorsky, Ukrainian-born American aviation pioneer and father of the modern helicopter, was born in Kyiv in 1889. His mother was a doctor and his father a psychology professor at Kyiv University. In 1933 Ihor wrote to Vasyl Halych, a Ukrainian-born American historian, “My family who comes from a village in Kyiv region, my grandfather and great grandfather were priests. All of my family members were Ukrainians.”
Homeschooled by his mother until age 9, he acquired a love for science through the flying machines in Leonardo da Vinci’s journals and Jules Verne’s books. By age 12, the budding engineer had already built a rubber band powered helicopter.
While studying at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, he designed two helicopters, among the first such designs in the world, as well as a series of biplanes. On December 29, 1911 he established the world speed record (111 km/hr) for a loaded plane (three passengers), the C-6. From 1912 to 1917 he worked as chief designer at a Russian-Baltic aviation company, where he designed and built the first airplanes with multiple engines. In 1918 he emigrated to France, and in 1919 to the United States, where he founded a number of aviation companies and headed several design teams, which constructed various airplanes and hydroplanes. In 1939 he perfected the design of the first successful helicopter in the world. His Sikorsky Helicopter Co developed military and civilian helicopters, and was considered the world leader in its field. In 1941, the company got its first contract from the U.S. Army Air Corps for an observation helicopter that became known for life-saving missions in military and civil emergencies.
Sikorsky’s active professional life overlapped virtually the entire span of practical flight by man, from the Wright brothers’ inventions to space exploration. Few in aviation can claim such a personal contribution with such a wide range of innovative ideas. He complained that, of all his past predictions, those that he lived to regret were on the “too conservative” side.
Sikorsky retired as an engineering manager for his company in 1957 but remained active as a consultant until his death. Sikorsky received many honorary doctorates in science and engineering, honorary fellowships in leading scientific and technical societies in the United States and Europe, and the highest medals and awards in aviation.
Ihor Sikorsky died at his home in Easton, Connecticut, on October 26, 1972. Some of his last words were about Ukraine and his Ukrainian heritage. On his deathbed he proclaimed, “I am coming back to my native holy Kyiv where my distinguished ancestors are resting in peace. I am coming back to rejoin with them in spirit.”
The company he founded continues today as the largest helicopter maker in the world.
The current exhibition, Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak: Nevermore, explores historical socio-political and environmental interests through the artist’s personal search for identity, in light of the recent and prevailing political climate in Ukraine. Curated by Dr. Walter Hoydysh, this is the artist’s first solo exhibition at The Ukrainian Institute of America.
On the occasion of Ms. Bodnar-Balahutrak’s exhibition, which runs through June 21, the Houston-based artist graciously answered selected questions presented by Andrew Horodysky. We are pleased to share this exchange with our friends and wider audience.
AH: Your exhibition currently installed at The Ukrainian Institute of America includes artworks from different series of the past twenty years, or so. Would you consider this a mini-survey? What is integral to the underlining idea(s)?
LBB: With the inclusion of some works available from earlier series, the exhibition did provide an overview from the early 2000’s to the present. The most recent pieces from my ongoing Hide and Seek series are featured in the large room at UIA, while the other room, foyer, and stairwell show earlier works lent from a private NYC collection alongside current works. The entire installation is an opportunity for the viewing public and for me to compare and contrast the artworks and note recurring themes, processes, and media. At the heart of all my work is a discourse about the nature of being, of connection, of home – and the lack thereof.
Ukrainian history, especially of past tragic and recent socio-political concerns, is a recurring thematic concern that runs parallel to the artworks on display. How do you separate the objective from the personal?
I don’t see a separation. Each person experiences life from his or her own particular frame of reference, and expresses that as part of a larger whole. From the particular, we extract the universal, and vice versa. At the core, history – with all its socio-political manifestations – resonates with timeless narrative, archetypal metaphors, and relevant meanings. Ukrainian history, just like the history of other nations, taps into the human condition.
What research do you undertake?
My research is not that of a scholar. I read and collect news reports, commentaries and essays about past and current events that I find interesting and relevant. I investigate the written word as well as the general nature of disseminated information. I review the content of saved articles in chronological order and see discrepancies, data changes, omissions, and I question the authenticity and power of the media to wholly inform us. What is truth? What is “truthiness”? What is disinformation? What is propaganda? Who decides what is circulated and what is suppressed?
Text-based art was an idea-based vehicle for the 20th century avant-garde, and continues to be explored by contemporary artists, worldwide. What is the role of this course in your work, both conceptually and formally?
Text, in the form of newspaper clippings, wordplay, or poems embedded in my work, plays a primary role in my process. I firmly believe in the power of language – that a single word has physical presence, has weight, and can affect tremendous change. In my artwork, print material, symbolic mementoes and cultural artifacts are collaged onto canvas or board in a sort of self-perpetuating dialogue. The process of selectively obliterating and/or highlighting the words and images with paint, chalk or wax, reflects our experiences of events – they submerge, resurface, and unravel over time. Some elements remain visible, others are obscured, mimicking the way truth about anything and everything is “hidden and sought.”
Nature is depicted not solely as a political and environmental undertaking, but also embraces the spiritual realm. Describe that relation in your artworks.
My 1996 visit to the Chornobyl Zone left a lasting impression. I was struck by nature’s power of reclamation and regeneration. Vines were growing over the dust and decay; tree roots were breaking through concrete. Though at times nature, with its cycles and patterns, can become rampant, invasive and destructive, that visual metaphor evoking renewal, healing and hope has stayed with me. While the verdant blades of grass shroud the Holodomor in Will the Grass Grow Over It?, the words of Vassily Grossman implore us to remember, acknowledge, and commemorate this historic tragedy and not let the grass “grow over it.”
How has your work changed or evolved in the last twenty years? Early in your career, you worked with traditional materials – applying oil to canvas and pencil to paper. Gradually, you began collecting and applying objects into your artworks, experimenting with media, and creating multi-layered matter.
We all evolve and change over our lifetimes. At first, the human figure was my primary subject matter, but my first trip to my ancestral homeland of Ukraine in 1991 was a turning point in my creative work and my world view. In the spring of 1991, I received a grant from IREX to travel to Ukraine for the first time. This trip opened my eyes and soul to a land beautiful but ravaged by the Soviet system. After that first trip, I began reading and photocopying texts, and bringing together material about little-known historic events of Ukraine, among these the Holodomor. My art-making expanded to include seemingly disparate processes of gold-leafing, torching, scoring, tearing, layering, collaging fragments of text and photo images, incorporating liturgical conceits, treasured mementoes and handmade items, and melding organic and inert materials. I broke with traditional notions of drawing and painting and explored identity and cultural ties through mixing media and combining text, narrative, and figuration. Each subsequent trip to Ukraine deepened my interest in the nature of communication and history.
As a visual and tactile experience, how does the multi-media process simplify or complicate your thinking of the artwork at hand?
The visual and tactile are inseparable. They are born of improvisation and an integration of materials, processes and time. Images evolve from the mark-making of drawing, painting, scraping, and veiling with paints, inks, chalks, resins, and wax. The grounds are pieced together narratives made of text and images, and bits of ephemera – embroidery, money, correspondences, stamps, maps – that viscerally evoke the human presence. All had been made by hand, or had been passed through many hands.
What do you think about the participatory role of your audience? Do you have an ideal viewer of your work?
With each artwork I initiate a discourse, not only with myself and my materials, but with the audience. I invite the viewer to be open, to engage with the work, to take it in from afar and then close-up, to allow the image built up from layers to coalesce at a distance, then to be drawn in for close reading of the many parts that make up the whole. The ideal viewer approaches the work with no preconceived notions and surrenders to the play of “hide and seek.”
How did you decide to be an artist in the first place? What was the impetus?
I don’t ever remember a time of consciously making a decision to be an artist. I’ve just always been enchanted by the magic of making marks and conjuring up images and forms that had not existed before, and took on lives of their own. Early on, I was fascinated by people’s reactions to my work. It was a way of learning about the world and my place in it. From the outset, it seems, art-making was a means of continual discourse.
What is the strongest memory of your childhood? Did your upbringing influence your work?
I’m a child of post-World War II immigrants. I grew up in a multi-generation Ukrainian community in Ohio and was fortunate to have all four grandparents during my formative childhood years. I was immersed in their storytelling, remembrances, and their yearning for Ukraine, which seemed like a mythical faraway place to me. In my family, not a day went by without engaging in some measure of creative work – embroidery, sewing, baking, singing, reciting poetry, planting gardens… The joyful artfulness of it all never escaped me; I embraced it. The profound aesthetic underpinnings I came to appreciate much later, when I embarked on a formal study of art.
Your grandfather was a Ukrainian Catholic priest. How did he influence your work, as spirituality is reflected throughout?
My paternal grandfather was a Uniate priest. Throughout my childhood I participated in liturgical and traditional rituals steeped in deep spirituality, reverence, and awe. I remember accompanying my grandfather to church, and watching him put on his vestments in preparation for Liturgy. At those moments he was wondrously transformed, yet he was still my grandfather. There have been so many of those kinds of sacramental moments. I’m inclined to see the world as reverential.
What are you working on now, and what are your plans for the future?
I’m continuing with my ongoing Hide and Seek, Nests, and poem text series. This fall through spring 2016, an exhibit of my work will travel to three college venues as part of the Deliberative Dialogs project addressing socio-political issues and citizens’ awareness and responsibility, organized by Lone Star College in Texas. Translating poems from Ukrainian to English has recently become an additional task I set for myself. Words – their visual shapes, patterns and rhythms, have become the content of much of my work. At first, the letter forms as abstract marks and graphic design alone sufficed. But now, I am compelled to also communicate the language, the grouped words’ meanings. It’s quite a challenge.
During your recent stay in New York, did you see any exhibitions of particular interest to you?
During this trip’s visit to galleries and museums, I took particular note of the remarkable presence of language in so much wonderful artwork. I encountered thoughtful work that pulls the viewer in to probe and contemplate the issues of our time – art that stimulates a deeper discourse rather than daily superficial hyped-up sound-bites. It was inspiring.
Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak: Nevermore is on view through June 21, 2015 at The Ukrainian Institute of America, 2 East 79th Street, New York, NY. Hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 12-6pm, or by appointment. For further infor-mation, please call Olena Sidlovych at (212) 288-8660.
None of the sculptors since Rodin made a greater impact in his time like Archipenko. It was in the first decade of his artistic life that he created new laws of modern sculpture and rose in art history as a leader of the art revolution and drew in many others.
Ukrainian artist, poet and writer
Every book about twentieth century art mentions Alexander Archipenko. While alive, he was acknowledged as one of the most acclaimed sculptors in the world. His works are in collections at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, MoMa and Guggenheim Museum in New York, and at museums in Stockholm, Berlin and Tel-Aviv. Archipenko is a national artist in France, Germany and the United States where he lived and created. Notwithstanding this, with his unique art, he raised awareness of Ukrainian culture to a higher level more than any Ukrainian diplomat could have.
Archipenko was born in Kyiv, Ukraine in 1887. After studying painting and sculpture at Kyiv Art School, in 1908 he briefly attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. However, he quickly abandoned formal studies to become part of more radical circles, especially the Cubist movement. He began to explore the interplay between interlocking voids and solids and between convex and concave surfaces, forming a sculptural equivalent to Cubist paintings’ overlapping planes, thus revolutionizing modern sculpture. In his bronze sculpture Walking Woman (1912), for example, he pierced holes in the face and torso of the figure and substituted concavities for the convexities of the lower legs. The abstract shapes of his works have a monumentality and rhythmic movement that also reflect contemporary interest in the arts of Africa.
As he developed his style, Archipenko achieved an incredible sense of vitality out of minimal means: in works such as Boxing Match (1913), he conveyed the raw, brutal energy of the sport in nonrepresentational, machinelike cubic and ovoid forms. About 1912, inspired by the Cubist collages of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, Archipenko introduced the concept of collage in sculpture in his famous Medrano series, depictions of circus figures in multicolored glass, wood, and metal that defy traditional use of materials and definitions of sculpture. During that same period he further defied tradition in his “sculpto-paintings,” works in which he introduced painted color to the intersecting planes of his sculpture.
Archipenko was represented in the New York Armory Show of 1913 and in many international Cubist exhibitions. In 1921 he moved to Berlin and opened an art school. During that time his works were as famous in Europe as those of Picasso.
In 1923, Archipenko immigrated to the United States. He established an art school in New York City, and in the following year, moved it to Woodstock, NY. Showing his broad interests and widely inventive mind, he created and received a patent for changeable pictures (peinture changeante) known as Archipentura and Apparatus for Displaying Changeable Pictures. Besides working at his art, Archipenko devoted much time to teaching. He was in constant contact with various universities, among them those in Oakland, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago (the New Bauhaus School). In 1927 an exhibition of his works was arranged in Tokyo. In New York, he established a school of ceramics, Arko. In the 1930s, his work appeared in the Ukrainian Pavilion at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. In 1947, Archipenko created the first sculptures out of transparent materials (plastics) with interior illumination (modeling light). In the following years, Archipenko tried his hand at moving figures, which were mechanically rotating structures built of wood, mother of pearl, and metal. At Biennale d’Arte Trivenata in Padua, Italy, he received the gold medal. In later years, he again concentrated on industrial materials, in which he demonstrated his taste for dazzling polychromy. Juan Gris wrote about Archipenko’s influence on the art of the early 20th century: “Archipenko challenged the traditional understanding of sculpture. It was generally monochromatic at the time. His pieces were painted in bright colors. Instead of accepted materials such as marble, bronze or plaster, he used mundane materials such as wood, glass, metal, and wire. His creative process did not involve carving or modeling in the accepted tradition but nailing, pasting and tying together, with no attempt to hide nails, junctures or seams. His process parallels the visual experience of cubist painting.”
Archipenko never severed his ties with his countrymen. During his first years in Paris he was a member of the Ukrainian Students’ Club; in Berlin, a member of the Ukrainian Hromada; and in the United States, a member of the Ukrainian Artists’ Association in the USA. He belonged to the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences and was an honorary member of the Ukrainian Institute of America where he was exhibited multiple times.
Archipenko died February 25, 1964, in New York.
The founder of the Ukrainian Institute of America and inventor of the first quick‐acting fastener used throughout the world in making aircraft, William Dzus came to the US as an immigrant from Western Ukraine in 1913. Born in 1895 to a family of wealthy Ukrainian farmers in the village of Chernykhivtsi in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, William’s fate was foreseen as a life that called upon him to blend with the land, with his thoughts centered upon the sun and the flow of the rainfall that blesses or curses the fields. Instead, he was a child with extraordinary mechanical aptitude and a highly creative mind. He was fascinated by machinery, energy and motion. After deciding that he needed some better mode of transportation than walking 4½ miles to school, young Dzus set about building a bicycle… completely from wood!
He desperately desired the freedom to work at what he wanted to accomplish, the freedom to spend his time at things he enjoyed, the freedom to live in a democracy and the freedom to be free. Unfortunately, Ukraine, which did not have its own state at the time, could not offer him that. William spent hours dreaming of America before he finally arrived there as a boy of 18.
Hard work, immense curiosity and an irresistible desire to “do things better” brought him to a recognized career as an inventor that started in 1922 with the grant of his first patent for a lathe attachment. From then on, over a period of almost forty years, he continued to apply his mechanical skills, and originality to problem after problem. His inventions, some of them revolutionary, earned him dozens of patents, among them for his fastening devices known today as Dzus fasteners. He believed that “the secret of fulfillment lies in finding out what you really want and then working to bring what you want to fruition.” William took great pride and satisfaction with the knowledge that allied planes in World War II were reinforced and made safer by his fasteners.
Perhaps even more extraordinary is the fact Dzus proved himself to be an extremely good businessman. With no background or training in business management, Dzus, like the musical genius, learned to play entirely by ear. But the fact remains that Dzus is one of the very few inventors who retained financial control over his inventions and managed to build a sound and successful organization – the Dzus Fastener Company, in West Islip, Long Island – to profit from.
With the end of World War II, William Dzus founded the Ukrainian Institute of America in 1948, for the purpose of promoting Ukrainian art, culture, music, and literature in the United States. At that time, the Ukrainian Institute was located in the Parkwood Mansion in West Islip. With increasing membership and growth, Dzus authorized Francis Clarke, treasurer of the Dzus Fastener Company, to look for new, larger quarters in New York City. The capacious Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion, with its prestigious address and unique architectural style, was purchased in 1955 by the Ukrainian Institute of America, with the generous support of William Dzus.
In his words, “the obstacles will become diminutive when you view them from the pinnacle of love for the work to which you have set your hand.”
Honoring the memory, legacy and continued impact of Taras Shevchenko, the Ukrainian Institute of America (UIA) is featuring a series of programs dedicated to Ukraine’s bard as it joins world-wide celebrations slated for 2014, the 200th anniversary of the great poet’s birth.
The UIA kicked off its Shevchenko Bicentennial commemorations with an essay contest for youth ages 14-21. The contest’s theme, “Taras Shevchenko—Why does he matter today?” aims to promote learning and awareness of Shevchenko’s legacy by those less or not at all familiar with his life’s work. This group includes students of Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian background, whose primary language is English and whose engagement in Ukrainian history and language has been comparatively limited or absent.
Besides the essay contest, the diverse UIA events range from a presentation of the first-ever complete English translation of Shevchenko’s Kobzar, an art exhibition denoting Shevchenko as the root of the tree of life of contemporary Ukrainian culture, a performance of Shevchenko’s poems set to the music of major Ukrainian composers, and more.
“Our Institute’s mission is to act as a ‘Window on Ukraine’, and we’re proud to take this opportunity to help acquaint the general public with this seminal figure,” says Dan Swistel, the president of the Ukrainian Institute. “Shevchenko has played a gargantuan role in the history and life of Ukrainians and Ukraine, but what Shevchenko stood for has equal meaning for the world at large today—an abiding love of one’s country, uncompromising opposition to all forms of oppression, a deep humanism. These are universal values.”
With an entry deadline of Jan. 31, 2014, the English-only essay contest carries $9,000 in total prize money: a $3,000 first prize, $2,000 second prize and $1,000 third prize. Ten essays awarded honorable mention will receive $300 each. In judging the essays, jurors will take into account the writer’s age. The top three essays, and the names of all winners, will be published on the Institute’s website; in Atlas, the Institute’s newsletter; and in the Ukrainian-American press. Top-scoring essays will also be prominently displayed at the Institute’s headquarters in New York City during the summer of 2014. Contest guidelines and entry form are available at www.ukrainianinstitute.org.
The Institute recently also hosted the inaugural presentation of the first-ever complete English translation of Shevchenko’s poetry collection, the Kobzar, by Peter Fedynsky. The translator is a United States-born retired Voice of America journalist, whose assignments took him for extended periods to Ukraine and the former Soviet Union, including as VOA Moscow bureau chief. In his introduction to the book, Fedynsky notes that Shevchenko’s poems “are alternately frightening, funny, despairing, hopeful, sacred and sacrilegious, but always illuminating and entertaining. They serve not only as a guide to long submerged, even prohibited elements of Ukrainian history, geography, personalities and folklore, but also to universal themes of love, envy, oppression and freedom.” In addition, the poems of Shevchenko, who was born a serf, “represent considerable courage, because he took on Russia’s imperial regime at a time when few would dare to challenge it.”
Joining Fedynsky in reading excerpts from the translation were Ukrainian-American poet Dzvinia Orlowsky and Bob Holman, founder and owner of New York’s legendary Bowery Poetry Club. The presentation at the Institute also featured copies of Shevchenko’s art and manuscripts and the poet’s favorite music. The UIA co-sponsored the publication of Fedynsky’s translation along with Self-Reliance New York Federal Credit Union (Samopomich) and the Temerty Family of Toronto, Canada.
In early November, the UIA also hosted a launch by the Shevchenko Scientific Society of its recent publications about the life and work of its patron, Taras Shevchenko. Among the books, all reflecting the society’s scholarly mission, is a three-volume set of the facsimile reproduction of Shevchenko’s Haydamaky, a historical perspective of the work of Orest Fedoruk, and a critical analysis by George G. Grabowicz. Another new Society book is a bibliographical volume, Shevchenko v krytytsi, of all critical literature on Shevchenko that appeared during his lifetime. Attendants of the event were also treated to a performance by Pavlo Gintov, an award-winning pianist who regularly performs with orchestras and chamber music throughout Europe, Asia and the U.S.
On March 8, 2014, Music at the Institute (MATI) will present a special concert, “Shevchenko and Shakespeare,” featuring the internationally renowned British bass-baritone Pavlo Hunka. The singer will perform a program of Shevchenko poems set to music by Mykola Lysenko, Jakiv Stepovyi, Stanyslav Liudkevych and Stefania Turkewich, and contrast that with a song cycle of Shakespearean sonnets by the contemporary Ukrainian composer Oleksandr Jacobchuk. “In this way, “ says Hunka, “Shevchenko takes his rightful place on the world stage alongside another of the world’s great poets.” Hunka, who was born to a Ukrainian father and an English mother, has performed in many of the world’s top opera houses, with leading conductors including Claudio Abbado and Zubin Metha, Jeffrey Tate, Peter Schneider and the late Richard Bradshaw. The Shakespeare song cycle was composed specially for Hunka, whose performance at the UIA will mark its world premiere. Accompanying Hunka on the piano will be Albert Krywolt, one of Canada’s foremost opera musicians.
Still another Art at the Institute program (ART@TI) dedicated to Shevchenko, the contemporary art exhibit “Root and Crown” will open March 21, 2014. A multi-faceted project consisting of constructed art, paintings and photographs, the exhibit’s idea, according to its Ukrainian artists-curators, is to present Shevchenko as “a root of the tree of life of the contemporary Ukrainian culture that constitutes a part of the human and cultural heritage of the Ukrainian people, and as a creator of visions and essences of the nation’s cultural heritage.” Artists contributing to the exhibit include Petro Bevza, Mykola Zhuravel, Oleksyi Lytvynenko and Oleg Yasenev, as well as a number of photographers who took aerial views of Ukraine. “Root and Crown” is scheduled to run through April 20, 2014.
By Roman Czajkowsky
This article was originally published in The Ukrainian Weekly.
The final concert of 2013 on December 7th featured “Music from the New World” as represented in compositions by Kodaly and Dvorak and the recent works of contemporary American composers Adam Silverman and American-Ukrainian Boris Skalsky, performed by violinists Charles Castleman and Yuriy Bekker, violist Daniel Farina, and cellist Amy Sue Barston.
CHARLES CASTLEMAN, perhaps the world’s most active performer/pedagogue on the violin, has appeared as soloist with the orchestras of Philadelphia, Boston, Brisbane, Chicago, Hong Kong, Moscow, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, and Shanghai. Medalist at the Tchaikovsky and Brussels competitions, his Jongen Concerto is included in a Cypres CD set of the 17 best prize-winning performances of the Brussels Concours’ 50-year history. His solo CDs include Ysaye’s six Solo Sonatas (made at the time of his unique performance at Tully Hall in NYC), eight Hubay Csardases for Violin and Orchestra, and ten Sarasate virtuoso cameos on Music and Arts, Gershwin and Antheil on MusicMasters, and contemporary violin and harpsichord music for Albany. As one of sixteen Ford Foundation Concert Artists, he commissioned the David Amram Concerto, premiering it with Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony and recording it for Newport Classic. He is a dedicatee of “Lares Hercii” by Pulitzer winner Christopher Rouse. Mr. Castleman has performed at such international festivals as Marlboro, Grant Park, Newport, Sarasota, AFCM (Australia), Akaroa (New Zealand), Budapest, Fuefukigawa, Montreux, Shanghail, Sheffield, and Vienna Festwoche. He regularly participates in the Park City, Round Top, and Sitka festivals in the U.S. His recitals have been broadcast on NPR, BBC, in Berlin, and in Paris. Mr. Castleman has been Professor of Violin at Eastman School of Music since 1975. He is founder/director of The Castleman Quartet Program, in its 43rd season, now at two locations, at SUNY Fredonia and at the University Colorado Boulder, an intensive workshop in solo and chamber performance, which Yo-Yo Ma has praised as “the best program of its kind… a training ground in lifemanship.”
Violinist YURIY BEKKER has led the Charleston Symphony Orchestra as a concertmaster since 2007 and has been the orchestra’s acting artistic director for the past three seasons. He has also held the position of concertmaster for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and AIMS Festival in Graz, Austria, as well as additional positions with the Houston Symphony and the Houston Grand Opera and Ballet Orchestras. He is an adjunct faculty member of the College of Charleston as conductor of the College of Charleston Orchestra. He has also been artistic advisor to the Piccolo Spoleto Festival for the last three seasons. Mr. Bekker has performed worldwide, including with the Vancouver Symphony, Ulster Orchestra, Chicago Chamber Music Society, European Music Festival Stuttgart, Pacific Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Aspen Music Festival, and at the Kennedy Center. He has collaborated with Herbert Greenberg, Claudio Bohorquez, Alexander Kerr, Andrew Armstrong, Robert DeMaine, Sara Chang, Gil Shaham, Joshua Roman, JoAnn Falletta, and Andrew Litton. His 2013-2014 season solo engagements include a performance with the Midland Symphony Orchestra (Michigan) of “Under an Indigo Sky,” a violin concerto written for him by composer Edward Hart. Other performances include conducting the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Pops Series in January 2014 and leading the Charleston Symphony Chamber Orchestra Series.
Violist DANIELLE FARINA enjoys a varied career as soloist, chamber musician, orchestral musician, teacher, and recording artist in both the classical and pop genres. As a soloist, she recently recorded Jon Bauman’s Viola concerto with the Moravian Philharmonic, Andy Teirstein’s Viola Concerto with the Kyiv Philharmonic, and premiered Peter Schickele’s Viola Concerto with the Pasadena Symphony. As a member of the Lark Quartet, she toured extensively in North America, Europe, and Scandinavia, performing at some of the most prestigious venues and festivals, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institute, Schleswig Holstein, and the International Istanbul Music Festival. Currently a member of the Elements Quartet, she participated in the Tibor Varga Festival in Budapest, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in Detroit, was in residence at Utah Valley State College, and premiered “Snapshots,” a project commissioning dozens of composers ranging from Regina Carter to Angelo Badalamenti to John Corigliano and many more. She also performs with a number of ensembles in the New York area, including the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Concertante, and American Modern Ensemble (AME), with whom she recorded the music of Robert Paterson, and Music from Copland House, with whom she recorded the music of John Musto. An active teacher, she is on the faculty of Vassar College and the Juilliard School Pre-College Division.
Cellist AMY SUE BARSTON has performed as a soloist and chamber musician on stages throughout the world, including Carnegie Hall, Ravinia, Caramoor, Bargemusic, Haan Hall (Jerusalem), the Banff Centre (Canada), International Musicians Seminar (England), Power House (Australia), and Chicago’s Symphony Center. At seventeen she appeared as soloist with the Chicago Symphony on live television, won the Grand Prize in the Society of American Musicians’ Competition, and First Place and the Audience Prize in the Fischoff International Chamber Music competition. Since then, she has performed as soloist with the Chicago Symphony, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Prometheus Chamber Orchestra, Rockford Symphony, and the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, among many others. This past season, she gave thirty solo recitals and master classes, spanning from New York to New Zealand. She is artistic director of the Canandaigua Lake Music Festival in New York and the cellist of the Corigliano Quartet, which was hailed by Strad Magazine as having “abundant commitment and mastery,” and whose recent Naxos CD was named one of the top two recordings of the year by both The New Yorker and Gramophone Magazine. She also performs regularly in duos, trios, and quartets with the world’s most celebrated fiddler, Mark O’Connor, and with Trio Vela, a piano trio in residence at Bargemusic. She has performed sonatas and chamber music with many of the world’s leading musicians, including Leon Fleisher, Jon Kimura Parker, Arnold Steinhardt, Bernard Greenhouse, and Ani Kavafian. A devoted teacher, some of her students commute from as far away as Alaska and Japan.
“Music at the Institute” was sponsored by the Ukrainian Institute of America, 2 East 79th Street, New York, NY
In 1932-33, Moscow’s Stalinist regime deliberately starved millions of Ukrainians to death in a man-made famine. Known as the Holodomor, the Ukrainian term for killing by starvation, the famine stands as one of the most horrendous genocides of the 20th century.
Targeting principally Ukrainian farmers, in a land that for centuries was known as the “breadbasket of Europe,” Stalin aimed to annihilate those parts of the Ukrainian population that were especially resisting Soviet represive policies in Ukraine, and to terrorize the surviving Ukrainian population into submission to the Soviet totalitarian regime. While the exact number of victims is not known, many scholars and historians place the number at 3 to as many as 10 million. One third of the victims were children; at the height of the Holodomor, tens of thousands died daily of starvation.
Eighty years after this unprecedented crime, the Holodomor remains one of the least known genocides. With its exhibit about the Holodomor, the Ukrainian Institute of America joins others around the world in illuminating this tragic chapter in the history of the Ukrainian nation, the consequences of which continue to reverberate in Ukraine to this day.
On Saturday, November 2, 2013 the 25th Anniversary Concert of Music at the Institute (MATI) was held at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv, violist Roberto Diaz performed, along with cellist Peter Wiley, pianists Mykola Suk and Meng-Chieh Liu.
Violinist SOLOMIYA IVAKHIV, noted by critics for performing with “a distinctive charm and subtle profundity” (Daily Freeman), enjoys an international career as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe, North America, and China. Her numerous festival credits include Tanglewood and the Embassy Series (U.S.), Musique de Chambre à Giverny (France), Prussia Cove (England), Banff Centre and Ottawa ChamberFest (Canada), Modern Music “Contrasts” and the Kyiv International Music Fest (Ukraine), and Verbier Festival (Switzerland). Ms Ivakhiv, who made her debut with the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of twelve, has appeared as soloist with the International Symphony, Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra, Henderson Symphony, Londontowne Symphony, Orchestra of Southern Utah, and Civic Orchestra of New Haven in the U.S., and extensively in her native Ukraine with the Lviv Philharmonic, Virtuozy Lvova, and the Ukrainian National Symphony. In China, she has appeared with the Hunan Symphony Orchestra. Many of her concerts have been broadcast on National Public Radio, Voice of America Radio, Ukrainian National Radio and Television, and China’s Hunan Television. Ms Ivakhiv is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and holds a Doctorate of Music Arts degree from Stony Brook University. Her principal teachers have been Joseph Silverstein, Pamela Frank, the late Rafael Druian, and Philip Setzer. She is Assistant Professor of Violin and Viola at Ohio University and the Artistic Director of the “Music at the Institute” Concert Series.
A violist of international reputation, ROBERTO DIAZ is president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music. As a teacher of viola at Curtis and former principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Mr. Diaz has already had a significant impact on American musical life and continues to do so in his dual roles as performer and educator. Mr. Diaz has appeared as an orchestral soloist and recitalist in major cities around the globe and has worked with many of the leading conductors of our time. He has collaborated with important composers, including Krzysztof Penderecki and Edison Denisov, and was principal violist of the National Symphony under Mstislav Rostropovich, a member of the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa, and a member of the Minnesota Orchestra under Sir Neville Marriner. Mr. Diaz is a member of the Diaz Trio with violinist Andrés Caardenes and cellist Andrés Diaz. His recording of transcriptions by William Primrose with pianist Robert Koenig (Naxos) was nominated for a 2006 Grammy. Mr. Diaz is a 1984 graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where his teacher was his predecessor at the Philadelphia Orchestra, Joseph de Pasquale.
Cellist PETER WILEY enjoys a prolific career as a performer and teacher. He is a member of the piano quartet, Opus One, a group he co-founded in 1998 with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, violinist Ida Kavafian, and violist Steven Tenenbom. Mr. Wiley attended the Curtis Institute of Music as a student of David Soyer. He joined the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1974. The following year he was appointed principal cellist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for eight years. From 1987 through 1998, Mr. Wiley was cellist of the Beaux Arts Trio. In 2001 he succeeded his mentor, David Soyer, as cellist of the Guarneri Quartet. The quartet retired from the concert stage in 2009. He is the recipient of an Avery Fischer Career Grant and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1998 with the Beaux Arts Trio and in 2009 with the Guarneri Quartet. Mr. Wiley participates at leading festivals, including Music from Angel Fire, Chamber Music Northwest, OK Mozart, Santa Fe, Bravo!, and Bridgehampton. He continues his long association with the Marlboro Music Festival, dating back to 1971. Mr. Wiley teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music and Bard College Conservatory of Music.
Pianist MENG-CHIEH LIU first made headlines in 1993 as a 21-year-old student at the Curtis Institute of Music, when he substituted with three hours’ notice for André Watts at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. The concert earned high acclaim from critics and audience alike, and was followed by a number of widely praised performances, including a recital at Kennedy Center and a concert on the Philadelphia All-Stars Series. After surviving a rare and debilitating illness that interrupted his career, he returned to performing as a recitalist and with orchestras under conductors Christoph Eschenbach, Gustavo Dudamel, and Alan Gilbert. A dedicated chamber musician, as well as solo artist, he has collaborated with musicians in North America, Europe, and Asia, in addition to working with artists in other disciplines, including Mikhail Baryshnikov and his White Oaks Dance Project. Mr. Liu has served on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music since 1993, and in 2006, he joined the faculty of Roosevelt University. In the fall of 2009, he also joined the Chicago Chamber Musicians and now serves as Artistic Director of this ensemble.
Pianist MYKOLA SUK, winner of the First Prize and Gold Medal at the 1971 International Liszt-Bartok Competition, has been described by American Record Guide as “a formidable talent… with an astonishing blend of muscular power, poetry, and utter control.” His international career has spanned four continents, with performances as soloist with numerous leading orchestras, from the Russian National Symphony under Mikhail Pletnev to the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn under Roman Kofman. He has collaborated with conductors Charles Bruck, Janos Ferencsik, Arvid Jansons, Stefan Turchak, James De Preist, and Carl St. Clair. As a chamber musician, he has appeared at many prestigious music festivals, including the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival (Finland), the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, the Kyiv International Music Fest, and the International Keyboard Institute and Festival in New York. An avid performer of 20th and 21st century music, he has premiered numerous works, especially by such noted Ukrainian composers as Silvestrov, Karabyts, and Skoryk. A native of Kyiv, Mr. Suk holds a Doctor of Music Arts from the Moscow Conservatory and before coming to the U.S., served as professor of piano at both Kyiv and Moscow Conservatories. He now Professor of Piano at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has recorded on the Melodiya, Russian Disc, Hungaraton, Meldac/Triton, Troppe Note/Cambria, and Music & Arts (USA) labels.
The 2013-2014 season marks the 25th year of Music at the Institute (MATI). This quarter-century jubilee is a joyous time to celebrate music, and people: The 300 gifted artists who filled the Institute’s mansion with sounds of pianos, violins, cellos, or voices. The many audiences who sat enraptured by Ukrainian, American, and international musical talents. The generous benefactors and supporters who worked hard to create a memorable program for the Ukrainian Institute of America, and for the New York community at large.
Since Institute member Irena Stecura launched the music series in 1989, MATI has presented audiences with a mix of well-known classical compositions and rarely-performed works of chamber and solo music. The Ukrainian Institute has commissioned works from prominent Ukrainian composers; Virko Baley (MATI’s first artistic director), Valentyn Silvestrov, and Yevhen Stankovych, have all premiered new compositions as part of the MATI series. From the program’s earliest days, MATI became the way for Ukrainian musicians to make their New York and American debuts. Highly-recognized performers of Ukrainian heritage in the MATI series have included violinists Oleh Krysa (former artistic director) and Dr. Solomiya Ivakhiv (current artistic director); pianists Mykola Suk (former artistic director), Valentina Lisitsa, Lydia Artymiw and Juliana Osinchuk; soprano Oksana Krovytska and bass singers Paul Plishka and Stefan Szkafarowsky.
In the words of pianist Mykola Suk, a key goal of Music at the Institute has always been the “infusion of Ukrainian culture with international musical culture.” Frequently, American musicians perform Ukrainian compositions and vice versa, he says. Suk, MATI’s former artistic director and now artistic advisor, made his New York debut in 1989, thanks to the music series.
In addition to acclaimed Ukrainian musicians and composers, internationally recognized musicians such as pianists Evgeny Kissin, Gary Graffman, Vladimir Feltsman, and Alexander Slobodyanik; harpsichordist Igor Kipnis, violinists Gidon Kremer and Philip Setzer, cellist Peter Willey, soprano Lucy Shelton, and many others have performed in the series. Attracting large audiences, the music program plays a major role in fulfilling the Ukrainian Institute’s mission to promote awareness and understanding of Ukrainian culture in the U.S. Says Dr. Ivakhiv: “I try to tie the works that are performed with the history of Ukraine at the time they were written, and to inform the audience of their historical context.”
Music at the Institute would not have attained its 25th anniversary without its leaders and patrons. The program’s first executive director was MATI founder Irena Stecura. From 1990-1996, Andrij Paschuk was executive director, followed by Dr. Taras Shegedyn from 1996-2003. Virko Baley, composer, conductor, and pianist, served as the program’s first artistic director from 1989-1991. Other artistic directors have been Oleh Krysa (1991-1996), Mykola Suk (1996-2010) and Solomiya Ivankhiv (2010-present). Instrumental to the program’s success, Marta Skorupsky designed and organized MATI’s advertising and marketing for over two and a half decades. Important early patrons included Jaroslaw and Vera Kryshtalsky founders of the Prystay Music Fund at the Ukrainian Institute and Daria Hoydysh and Dr. Walter Hoydysh (founder of the Daria Hoydysh Endowment for the Arts at the Ukrainian Institute), who made the early seasons a reality by sponsoring a Steinway piano for the MATI concert series. More recent patrons have included Dr. Ihor and Marta Fedoriw and Tania Krawciw. As the anniversary year unfolds, a standing ovation is due to all who have contributed to the success of Music at the Institute.
“MATI was the first genuinely international music series sponsored by a Ukrainian organization in New York, the cultural capital of the United States, that placed Ukrainian music and performers in international context. May it prosper!”
-Virko Baley, artistic director (1989-1991)
“It is a great joy for me that the MATI series stands as a cultural monument not just to the Ukrainian people but also to the people of New York. The fact that this series celebrates its 25th anniversary this year brings me even greater happiness, and I wish the organizers and performers many more years of great success.”
-Oleh Krysa, artistic director (1991-1996) and honorary director
“From the very beginning, the ultimate purpose of MATI was to present Ukrainian musical culture as a substantive part of the world’s cultural heritage. One can say now that Music at the Institute is up to this aspiration. I’m privileged and proud to be part of it.”
—Mykola Suk, artistic director (1996-2010) and artistic advisor
“I’m proud of MATI’s roster of internationally renowned artists. And I’m thrilled to be engaging Ukrainian musicians who are outside the U.S. and Ukraine. MATI unites musicians from all continents and brings the best of Ukrainian classical culture to New York City. I’m also excited for the new projects that partner with other chamber music festivals, visual artists, publishing companies and living composers to commission new works.”
–Solomiya Ivakhiv, artistic director (2010-present)