On Saturday, February 2, 2013 at the Ukrainian Institute of America, Music at the Institute (MATI) presented “Of Song, Dance and Remembrance” – Celebrating Virko Baley’s 75th Birthday.

Virko BAleyVIRKO BALEY is a Jacyk Fellow at Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute and Distinguished Professor of Music, Composer-in-Residence, and co-director of NEON, an annual composers’ conference, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He received a 2007 Grammy® Award as recording co-producer for TNC Recordings and the prestigious Academy Award in Music 2008 from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The citation read:

“A highly cultured, polyglot intellectual, brilliant pianist and a dynamic and accomplished conductor, the Ukrainian-born Virko Baley composes music which is dramatically expansive of gesture, elegant and refined of detail and profoundly lyrical. It is music which ‘sings’ with passionate urgency whether it embraces (as in his more recent work) folkloric elements from his origins or finds expression in a more universal style of modernism typical of his earlier music. It is always a singular voice and a deeply felt and acutely heard music.”

Virko Baley was born in Ukraine in 1938, but has spent his creative life in the United States and considers himself a citizen of the world. Multi-disciplinary, he infuses his music with themes of contemporary and traditional motifs. Shirley Fleming, reviewing a concert of his music given by CONTINUUM in the New York Post called his music “vibrant, dramatic, communicative, much of it framed by extra-musical allusions that place it in a solid context.” The New York premiere of Concerto No. 1, quasi una fantasia for violin by the New Juilliard Ensemble, Joel Sachs conductor, Tom Teh Chiu, soloist, prompted the Village Voice critic Kyle Gann to describe it as full of “sonic images memorable enough to take home.” His Symphony No. 1: “Sacred Monuments” was described by David Hurwitz in Classics Today as, “Powerfully imagined, clearly articulated, and quite moving… It’s a very serious ambitious statement by a gifted artist, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if it turns out to have more staying power than many other contemporary works by today’s trendier composers.” In 2010, reviewing a recent CD released of Virko Baley’s music, Robert Schulslaper wrote that “Baley’s music [is] deeply lyrical and emotively powerful in equal measure. Recommended,” while American Record Guide pronounced, “These are exceptional compositions and fantastic performances. The language in these pieces is a part of a larger context of exploration for new sounds in the world of instrumental music.” In reviewing Baley’s monumental chamber cycle Treny in Gramophone, Ken Smith wrote “The strength of the piece lies in its highly – and unapologetically – emotional content, dispensed artfully with the utmost thematic discretion…Hearing nearly 73 minutes of brooding Slavic ruminations on death may not inspire much toe-tapping, but Baley does arrive at an effective catharsis. The vocal line, whose wordless hum soon blooms into a text reconciling itself to human morality, descends on the earthiness of the cello like a message from above. In delivering it, soprano Olga Pasichnyk floats her voice like an angel.”

A recipient of the 1996 Shevchenko Prize for Music from the Ukrainian government, he has also distinguished himself as conductor, producer, and writer, as the author of a number of articles on various musical topics and a contributing editor to both New Grove Opera and New Grove 2000 Dictionary of Music on the subject of Ukrainian music. Together with Ivan Karabyts, he founded the first international music festival in Ukraine, the Kyiv Music Fest. He co-produced and wrote the music for Yuri Illienko’s film Swan Lake: The Zone, which won two top prizes at Cannes in 1990, and the music for Illienko’s last film, A Prayer for Hetman Mazepa. He has led the Kiev Camerata in recordings of over 15 CDs of orchestral music by composers ranging from Mozart, Beethoven, Valentin Silvestrov, and Bernard Rands to Yevhen Stankovych, and he has worked with the Shevchenko Opera Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, as well as the Moscow Philharmonic, Leningrad State Symphony Orchestra, Lviv Philharmonic, Delaware Symphony, Washington Square Orchestra (New York), and many others. For 15 years he was Music Director and Conductor of the Nevada Symphony Orchestra, precursor of the current Las Vegas Philharmonic; in addition he was the founder and for 20 years director of Las Vegas Chamber Players and for 16 years, the Las Vegas Annual Contemporary Music Festival. On February 5, 2013 he will present in concert his most recent work, the opera Holodomor (Red Earth. Hunger) at the Gerald Lynch Theater, College of Criminal Justice, Manhattan, New York.

The concert showcased Fiona Murphy, soprano; Laura Bohn, soprano; John Duykers, tenor; Marta Krechkovsky, violin; Virko Baley, piano; Steven Beck, piano; Jennifer Grim, flute and James Roe, oboe.

JROboist JAMES ROE made his Lincoln Center concerto debut during the 2004 Mostly Mozart Festival and in 2009 performed Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Oboes in D Minor in Carnegie’s Zankel Hall with The Little Orchestra Society. He is Acting Principal Oboe of The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, a member of The Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and the Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra, The Knights, and has appeared as guest principal oboe with The Metropolitan Opera, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and The Houston Grand Opera. In 2006, he was appointed Artistic Director of The Helicon Foundation, where he produces an annual subscription series of chamber music performed on period instruments. Mr. Roe is a member of the Zéphyros Winds, with whom he has concertized widely across the United States.

FMHailed as “dramatically deft and vocally splendid” by the Irish Times, soprano FIONA MURPHY from Dublin, Ireland, had a most successful career as a mezzo soprano in leading roles with the Houston Grand Opera, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. She has now made the transition to the soprano repertoire. Her portrayal of the Governess in Britten’s Turn of the Screw for Opera Northern Ireland was critically acclaimed in the British press. She was an Opera News magazine “Sound Bites” page featured artist recently and heralded as a soprano to watch. Concert highlights include performances at the Hollywood Bowl, the Barbican, Lincoln Center, Kimmel Center, Festival Hall Liverpool, and the National Concert Hall Dublin.

Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan www.beowulfsheehan.comAmerican pianist STEVEN BECK continues to garner acclaim for his performances and recordings worldwide. The New Yorker praised him as “one of the city’s finest young pianists,” and Anthony Tommasini described a recent New York concert by him as “exemplary” and “deeply satisfying” in The New York Times. Highlights of the 2011-12 season include solo performances of works by Wuorinen in the Guggenheim’s “Works and Process” series, a performance of Messiaen’s Concert a Quatre with the Aspen Festival Orchestra, and performances at Darmstadt and Vienna with the Talea Ensemble. Mr. Beck’s annual performances at Bargemusic of Bach’s Goldberg Variations on Christmas Eve and Brandenburg Concertos on New Year’s Eve have become a New York tradition.

JG Hailed as “a deft, smooth flute soloist” by the New York Times, JENNIFER GRIM’s remarkable depth and breadth as a performer of solo and chamber repertoire is gaining broad national acclaim. First prize winner in several national chamber music competitions, she has performed with such groups as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble. She is the flutist of the award-winning Zéphyros Winds, as well as the solo flutist of the New York Chamber Soloists and the principal flutist of the Vermont Mozart Festival, where she has performed all the Mozart flute concertos and the flute quartets. A passionate advocate of contemporary music in addition to the standard repertoire, Ms. Grim has performed with some of the leading contemporary groups in New York City, including Speculum Musicae, Manhattan Sinfonietta, ensemble 21 and Sequitur.

MKUkrainian violinist MARTA KRECHKOVSKY, a prizewinner at the Kocian International Violin Competition in the Czech Republic at the age of 10, has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras in her native Ukraine, including the Lviv State Symphony Orchestra, and in Canada, with the Canadian Academy Chamber Orchestra, the Toronto Sinfonietta, and the Canada Pops Orchestra. An experienced performer of orchestral and chamber music, she has been a substitute player with the New York Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, as well as concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra from 2005 to 2009. Ms. Krechkovsky has participated in numerous music festivals and has served as a concertmaster at the Pacific Music Festival in Japan, the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland, and the Russian Easter Festival in Russia.

LBSoprano LAURA BOHN is rapidly being recognized as a compelling presence in the new generation of operatic performers, garnering praise as “..an amazing blend of vocal splendor and physical virtuosity” (San Francisco Chronicle). In 2013 the American soprano will appear as Nerone in MonteverdISH, an adaptation of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, which last season toured major theaters throughout northern Europe, including Amsterdam’s Stadsschouwburg and Berlin’s Konzerthaus, to wide acclaim. The soprano’s 2013-14 season includes the Governess in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw at West Edge Opera in San Francisco, the female lead in Holodomor, a new opera by Virko Baley about Stalin’s Ukrainian famine, in Las Vegas and New York, and DJ Mozart, an original pastiche of Mozart and breakdance, which will tour major theaters in northern Europe. The 2012 season saw her return to West Edge Opera as Bessie in Mahagonny Songspiel, performances at the Holland Festival, and a national tour as soloist with the Ricciotti Ensemble Orchestra throughout the Netherlands.

JDTenor JOHN DUYKERS has appeared with many of the world’s leading opera companies, including The Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, Frankfurt Opera, Opera de Marseilles, Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. He has sung in 120 contemporary operas, including 72 world premieres. He created the role of Chairman Mao in John Adams’ Nixon in China. Philip Glass has written three roles for Duykers, including The Visitor (In The Penal Colony) and the role of the Older Galileo in Galileo/Galilei. In 2009 Mr. Duykers co-founded First Look Sonoma with Director Melissa Weaver, dedicated to the creation of new Music Theater Performance Works.

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“Music at the Institute” was sponsored by the Ukrainian Institute of America, 2 East 79th Street, New York, NY
Solomiya Ivakhiv — Artistic Director • Mykola Suk — Artistic Advisor