In celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Taras Sevchenko, on March 8, 2014, Music at the Institute presented a concert ” Shevchenko and Shakespeare.” A concert of Art Songs based on Shevchenko’s poems and the world première of Oleksandr Jacovchuk’s composition Song of Love, a cycle of Shakespearean sonnets.
Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861) – A national poet, not unlike Robert Burns, Adam Mickiewicz, or Rabindranath Tagore, he was also a writer of prose and drama, a theatre critic, painter, academician, serf, freeman, prisoner, rebel, and visionary, with a fondness for both folk and classical music. His voice is the voice of the Ukrainian nation. Like William Shakespeare, he transformed his native vernacular tongue into a language capable of making some of the most powerful and enduring statements in verse. He wrote of freedom, equality, and justice for all. In 2014, the bicentennial celebration of Shevchenko’s birth is an international event as recognized by UNESCO. Shevchenko inspired generations of Ukrainian composers and musicians to write art songs, cantatas and operas based on his poetry. Mykola Lysenko, Ukraine’s preeminent composer of the nineteenth century, devoted 25 years of his life to setting Shevchenko’s poetry to music.
Albert Krywolt, pianist, is one of Canada’s foremost opera musicians. His extensive knowledge of operatic literature is grounded in a professional career spanning some 35 years and more than 100 operas. As collaborative pianist, he has worked with many internationally renowned singers, including Joan Sutherland, Jose Carreras, Elisabeth Soderstrom, Thomas Stewart, Renata Scotto, Louis Quilico, Ben Heppner, Russell Braun, and Isabel Bayrakdarian, among others. As chief coach for the Canadian Opera Company, Albert worked closely with the COC’s general director, the late Richard Bradshaw, and with many leading directors, among them Lot. Mansouri, Stephen Wadsworth, Robert LePage, Nicholas Lehnhof and Francois Girard. Albert has a special affinity for contemporary repertoire and has helped launch the world premieres of several Canadian operas, including Nosferatu and The Golden Ass by Randolph Peters, and Mario and the Magician by Harry Somers. Since 2005, Albert has been a major contributor to the Ukrainian Art Song Project, having recorded 200 songs by the Ukrainian composers Stetsenko, Lysenko, and Stepovyi.
Pavlo Hunka was born in England, the son of a Ukrainian father and an English mother. He qualified as a linguist and practiced as a lawyer in the U.K. for four years before embarking on a singing career. He began his vocal studies at the Royal Northern College of Music and completed them in Switzerland with Kammersängerin, Maria Sandulescu. During his 3-year contract at Basel Opera in Switzerland, he sang many of the major roles in the bass-baritone repertoire. Since then he has sung in most of the leading opera houses in the world – Paris, Vienna, Munich, Florence, Amsterdam, Madrid, Moscow, London, Salzburg, Berlin, Toronto – under Claudio Abbado, Jeffrey Tate, Semion Bychkov, Zubin Mehta, Peter Schneider, Mark Wigglesworth, Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sir Mark Elder and Kasushi Ono, to mention but a few. Pavlo’s repertoire includes Barak Die Frau ohne Schatten, Golaud, Pelléas et Mélisande; title roles in Wozzeck, Falstaff; Scarpia, Tosca; Bluebeard, Bluebeard’s Castle; Tomskiy, The Queen of Spades; Pizarro, Fidelio; Kaspar, Der Freischütz; The Flying Dutchman; Klingsor, Parsifal; Alberich, Siegfried; Boris, Rangoni, Varlaam, Boris Godunov; Kezal, Bartered Bride and many other bass-baritone roles in the Russian, Wagnerian and Italian repertoires. Highlights of recent seasons include: Dr. Schön, Lulu in Geneva and Schigolch, Lulu in Brussels, Falstaff at the Canadian Opera Company, Doctor, Wozzeck in Berlin under Daniel Barenboim; Klingsor, Parsifal and Hunding, Walküre with the Bolshoi in Moscow, Alberich, Siegfried in Lyon, Nekrotzar, Le Grand Macabre in Brussels and at English National Opera, London, Pizarro, Fidelio at the Edinburgh Festival, Friar Laurence, Romeo and Juliette at the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm. Future projects include the roles of: Dikoj, Katja Kabanova and Siskow, The House of the Dead at the Berlin State Opera with Sir Simon Rattle and Daniel Barenboim; the General in Prokoffiev’s The Gambler in Amsterdam; Benvenuto Cellini at the English National Opera and Nederlandse Opera; Boris, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at the English National Opera and Wozzeck in Berlin with Daniel Barenboim. Recordings to date: Fidelio with Chandos and Sony; Ballo in Maschera with Sony. Pavlo is Artistic Director of the Ukrainian Art Song Project whose aim is to record over 1000 Ukrainian classical art songs by 23 Ukrainian composers.