On Saturday, October 6, 2012 at the Ukrainian Institute of America, Music at the Institute (MATI) presented “IMMORTAL BELOVED” All-Beethoven Program. The concert was dedicated to the memory of MATI co-founder Irena Stecura.
Іrena Stecura (1931-2011). Іrena Skvirtnianska Stecura was born in Krakow Poland on June 27, 1931. With the end of World War II, the family gained admission through the displaced persons camps in Austria to the United States. They settled in New York City, where Irena became an active member of the Ukrainian community and of the Ukrainian Scouting Organization, Plast. A competent pianist, she completed an MA in Music at CUNY’s Hunter College and then embarked on a singularly fertile activist career for the promotion of the arts and of Ukrainian artists. Irena Stecura managed the off-Broadway New Theatre (1964-1974) in New York City, while also working with the legendary Ukrainian-born impresario Sol Hurok (1988-1974) who was responsible for introducing the Bolshoi and Kirov ballet companies to American audiences. She became a member of the Board of Directors of the Ukrainian Institute of America, where she founded the successful Music at the Institute (MATI) program. On October 28, 1989, MATI’s inaugural evening featured pianist Alexander Slobodyanik (1941-2008) and his son pianist, Alex Slobodyanik. Future MATI events showcased the violinist Oleh Krysa with his wife pianist Tatiana Tchekina and sons violinists, Petro and Taras Krysa, the pianist Mykola Suk, pianist Lydia Artymiw, the Lysenko Quartet, among others. Irena Stecura was generous and unwavering in her efforts to spotlight artists from Ukraine and help them gain wider recognition in the West. Self-employed as a real estate agent, she opened up her own apartment on Central Park West as an art gallery. Her selfless promotion of the artists and the arts did not go unnoticed.
In 1993, after Ukraine’s independence, Irena Stecura settled permanently in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, from where she thought herself best positioned to continue her mission of raising domestic and foreign awareness of the needs of Ukraine’s artists struggling under post-Soviet conditions. Invited to act as advisor to Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism in August 1993, Irena established the Ukrainian Artist Management Agency (based in New York City) to remedy the lack of support and proper management hindering the careers of Ukraine’s artists. She created a seminar series entitled “The Classics are Classy”–which she herself wrote and moderated and took on the road from Kyiv to Lviv, Vinnytsia, and Zhytomyr. In addition, Irena published a biweekly Kyiv Entertainment Guide through which she informed the public—and especially tourists to Ukraine —about performances scheduled in Kyiv. Along with other arts enthusiasts, she took on a major renovation project of one of Kyiv’s cultural landmarks, establishing the “Friends of the National Art Museum of Ukraine”. However, lacking adequate funding or government support, she was forced to abandon this important project.
In 1998, Irena Stecura produced a CD of Tchaikovsky’s Divine Liturgy St. John Chrysostom (Op.41, 1880) performed by Viktor Ovdij with the Kyiv Chamber Choir, directed by Mykola Horbych. She wrote critical reviews of many performances offered in Kyiv, for example, concerts given by the composers Volodymyr Rynchak and Myroslav Skoryk, and many others. Irena was the eternal optimist, never losing sight of the larger goal of Ukraine’s return to Europe, and never losing faith in her vision. She died on November 18, 2011, in Ternopil and is buried nearby on Ukrainian soil.
At the concert performed Randall Scarlata, baritone; Solomiya Ivakhiv, violin; Amit Peled, cello; Gilbrt Kalish, piano.
Hailed for his warm, expressive sound, consummate musicianship, and winning way with the audience, baritone RANDALL SCARLATA enjoys an unusually diverse career. He is equally comfortable singing recital, opera, oratorio, chamber music, and works for voice and orchestra. He has performed as soloist with the symphonies of San Francisco, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, the American Symphony, and the National Symphony, among others. In addition, he has appeared at international music festivals, including Ravinia, Marlboro, Menlo, Edinburgh, Vienna, Salzburg, Aspen, Spoleto, and on concert stages across five continents. A frequent performer of new music, he has given world premieres of works by Ned Rorem, George Crumb, Richard Danielpour, Christopher Theofanidis, Thea Musgrave, Daron Hagen, Samuel Adler, and Paul Moravec. His numerous recordings can be heard on the Chandos, Bridge, Naxos, Albany, Arabesque, CRI, and Gasparo labels. Mr. Scarlata’s awards include First Prize at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, First Prize at the Das Schubert Lied International Competition in Vienna, First Prize at the Joy in Singing Competition in New York, and the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital Award. He holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School, and also attended Vienna’s Hochschule für Musik as a Fulbright Scholar. He currently serves on the faculties of SUNY Stony Brook and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at West Chester University.
Violinist SOLOMIYA IVAKHIV has quickly earned a reputation for performing with “a distinctive charm and subtle profundity” (Daily Freeman). Born in Ukraine, she made her debut with the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of thirteen and has won top prizes in competitions, including the Sergei Prokofiev Competition and Fritz Kreisler Charles Miller Award from the Curtis Institute of Music. Ms Ivakhiv has performed at major festivals, including Steamboat Springs, Musique de Chambre à Giverny in France, Prussia Cove in England, and her performances have aired on National Public Radio, Voice of America Radio, Ukrainian National Radio and Television, and China’s Hunan Television. As a chamber musician, Ms Ivakhiv collaborates with many of today’s finest artists, including Joseph Silverstein, Claude Frank, Gary Graffman, and Steven Isserlis. Ms. Ivakhiv is in her second year as the Artistic Director of the “Music at the Institute” Concert Series (MATI). Ms Ivakhiv is a graduate of the world-renowned 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. Dr. Ivakhiv is performing on Antonio Stradivari “Nachez” Violin made in 1686. This instrument is generously loaned to her by Dr. Winifred and Mr. John Constable of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
From the United States to Europe to the Middle East to Asia, Israeli cellist AMIT PELED, a musician of profound artistry and charismatic stage presence, is acclaimed as one of the most exciting instrumentalists on the concert stage today. He has performed as soloist with many orchestras and in the world’s major concert halls, including Carnegie and Alice Tully Halls in New York, Salle Gaveau in Paris, London’s Wigmore Hall, Berlin’s Konzerthaus, and Tel Aviv’s Mann Auditorium. He is also a frequent guest artist as such prestigious music festivals as Marlboro, Newport, Seattle Chamber Music Festival, Heifetz International Music Institute, Schleswig Holstein and Euro Arts (Germany), Gotland (Sweden), Prussia Cove (England), The Violoncello Congress in Spain, and the Kfar Blum Music Festival in Israel. As a recording artist, Mr. Peled has just released two critically acclaimed CDs: The Jewish Soul and Cellobration on the Centaur Records label. Amit Peled has been featured on television and radio stations throughout the world, including NPR’s Performance Today, WGBH Boston, WQXR New York, WFMT Chicago, Deutschland Radio Berlin, Radio France, Swedish National Radio & TV, and Israeli National Radio and Television. A highly sought-after pedagogue, Mr. Peled is professor of cello at the Peabody Conservatory of Music of the Johns Hopkins University. Amit Peled is performing on Pablo Casal’s Matteo Goffriller cello, made in 1700 and generously loaned to him by Mrs. Marta Casals Istomin and the Casals Foundation.
Pianist GILBERT KALISH leads a musical life of unusual variety and breadth. His profound influence on the music community as educator and as pianist in myriad performances and recordings has established him as a major figure in American music making. A solo artist who has released over 100 recordings, he is also noted for his frequent appearances with many of the world’s most distinguished chamber ensembles and for his collaboration with soprano Dawn Upshaw, cellist Joel Krosnick, and, above all, mezzo soprano Jan de Gaetani. Mr. Kalish was the pianist of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players for 30 years and a founding member of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, a group devoted to new music that flourished during the 1960s and 70s. In 2007, he was invited to be an artist member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has performed recitals in most of the major musical capitals and also appears as soloist at many leading music festivals, including Mostly Mozart in New York and the Brighton and Aldeburgh Festivals in England. He has given world premieres of works by Elliot Carter, George Crumb, Charles Ives, Leon Kirchner, George Perle, Ralph Shapey, and David Diamond. Columbia, Desto, Folkways, Acoustic Research, Bridge, and Nonesuch are among the many labels for which Mr. Kalish has made numerous recordings of solo works, chamber music, and as accompanist. His recordings encompass classical repertory, 20th century masterworks, and new compositions. As a highly influential educator, Mr. Kalish is Distinguished Professor and Head of Performance Activities at SUNY at Stony Brook (since 1970). From 1968 to 1997, he was a faculty member of the Tanglewood Music Center, serving as “chairman of the faculty” from 1985 to 1997. He has also been a guest on the faculties of the Banff Center and the Steans Institute in Ravinia. Mr. Kalish is the recipient of a number of awards for his exceptional contributions to chamber music and to music of our time.