On Sunday, March 25, 2018, “Music at the Institute” in cooperation with the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the U.S. presented Music of Ukrainian Diaspora Composers performed by Vira Slywotzky, soprano and Pavel Gintov, piano.
Dancers from the Syzokryli Ukrainian Dance Ensemble: Dianna Shmerykowsky, Sofiya Tasker, Markian Kuziw, and Anastasiya Hanifin. Orlando Pagan, artistic director.
Soprano Vira Slywotzky has performed principal roles with Seattle Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Chelsea Opera, Center for Contemporary Opera, Light Opera of New York, Sarasota Opera, and Boston Midsummer Opera, and has appeared in concert with the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, Rockland Camerata, and New Haven Chamber Orchestra. She has sung recitals and concerts in New York at Merkin Hall, the Metropolitan Room, Opera America, Sheen Center, SubCulture, Symphony Space, Ukrainian Museum, and Weill Hall. Internationally Ms. Slywotzky has performed at the Festival D’Avignon in Avignon, France, Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the American Church in Paris, the Armel Opera Festival in Szeged, Hungary, the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Gustov Adolf Church in Sundsvall, Sweden.
Ms. Slywotzky’s operatic roles include Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte, Nedda in Pagliacci, Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Giorgetta in Il Tabarro, Magda in The Consul, and the title role in Vanessa. Vira Slywotzky and Swedish pianist and composer Daniel Stagno comprise the Nya Transatlantiska Duon. Other recital partners include Yegor Shevtsov and David Sytkowski. Since 2008, Ms. Slywotzky has been the soprano of Mirror Visions Ensemble, a vocal trio known for its innovative programming, nuanced performances, and extensive commissioning. She can be heard on the group’s 2015 commercial recording, The Three-Paneled Mirror. Ms. Slywotzky is a founding member of the New York based company Victor Herbert Renaissance Project – LIVE! She has performed in Herbert’s The Serenade as Dolores, Naughty Marietta as Adah, The Fortune Teller as Mlle Pompon, Sweethearts as Dame Paula, and Cyrano de Bergerac as Roxane. The recipient of a 2007 Richard F. Gold Career Grant, Vira Slywotzky has twice been a New England Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and in 2009 was the sole representative of the United States at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ms. Slywotzky received an MM from Mannes and a BA from Yale. She currently serves on the board of the Berkshire Opera Festival.
Pianist Pavel Gintov has been described as “a poet of the keyboard” by Marty Lash of the Illinois Entertainer, a “musical storyteller” by the Japanese publication Shikoku News, and “a fantastic pianist and extraordinary artist” by Jerry Dubins of the Fanfare Magazine. Since his debut at the Kyiv Philharmonic Hall at the age of 12, Mr. Gintov has been touring throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States, appearing on such stages as Carnegie Hall in New York, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Teatro Verdi Nationale in Milan, the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory, and Kioi Hall in Tokyo. He has been a soloist with the Tokyo Royal Chamber Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Shizuoka Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, National Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic, and Manhattan Chamber Orchestra under such conductors as Michiyoshi Inoue, Victor Yampolsky, Thomas Sanderling, Volodymyr Sirenko, and Tomomi Nishimoto. Mr. Gintov has appeared on WFMT radio station of Chicago, WCLV of Cleveland, WPR of Wisconsin as well as numerous radio and TV stations in Europe, Japan, and Ukraine. A native of Ukraine, Mr. Gintov won First Prize in the Premiere Takamatsu International Piano Competition in Japan, where in addition he was awarded four special prizes, First Prize in the 2010 Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition, and First Prize in The World Competition in 2013. An avid chamber music performer, Mr. Gintov has worked with such distinguished musicians as violinists Nina Beilina and Alena Baeva, cellists Yehuda Hanani and Marina Tarasova, tenor Neil Rosenshein, pianist Mykola Suk, woodwind quintet Windscape and many others. He regularly performs together with his sister, violinist Iryna Gintova. Mr. Gintov was awarded the prize for the best collaborative pianist in the International Paganini Violin Competition in Moscow. Mr. Gintov graduated with honors from the Moscow State Conservatory, where he was a student of Lev Naumov and Daniil Kopylov. He holds a Doctor of Musical Art degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, where he studied with Nina Svetlanova.
Founded in 1978 by the acclaimed dancer and choreographer Roma Pryma Bohachevsky, the New York based Syzokryli Ukrainian Dance Ensemble has performed extensively throughout the United States. It has graced some of America’s finest stages including Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, the Felt Forum at Madison Square Garden, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York; the Academy of Music and Robin Hood Dell East in Pennsylvania; the PNC Arts Center and Newark’s Symphony in New Jersey, and Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. In 1992, Syzokryli concluded a highly successful and critically acclaimed tour of Ukraine, appearing in opera houses in Ukraine’s major cities, including Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, and Ivano-Frankivsk.
The ensemble’s current Artistic Director, ORLANDO PAGAN, began his training at the age of 13 with the Bronx Dance Theatre and later went on to study at the prestigious High School of Performing arts, Alvin Ailey School of Dance, School of American Ballet, and Jacobs Pillow. In 1987, he became a soloist of the Syzokryli dance ensemble. In 1999, Mr. Pagan auditioned for and was accepted to become a member of Dance Theater of Harlem in NYC under the direction of Arthur Mitchell. He has traveled all over the U.S. and abroad to perform and teach in countries such as Great Britain, Europe, Germany, China, and Austria and has worked with such dance luminaries as Mark Morris, Peter Martens, Geoffrey Holder, Michael Smuin, and Desmond Richardson. In 2006, Mr. Pagan became the Artistic Director of the Syzokryli Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and the Head Instructor for all schools under the Roma Pryma Bohachevsky foundation.
OSYP ZALESKY was born in 1892 in Trostianets Malyi in Zolochiv county, Galicia, and died in 1984 in Buffalo, NY. He was a musicologist, educator, conductor, and composer. After completing his studies in musicology with A. Chybinski at the Lviv Conservatory (1911-14), he worked as a gymnasium teacher. He founded, directed, and taught at the Stanyslaviv branch of the Lysenko Higher Institute of Music, conducted choirs in Lviv, Stanyslaviv, Jarosław (Yaroslav), and Vienna, and from 1913 to 1930 owned the musical publishing house Lira. From 1955 he taught music theory at the Buffalo branch of the Ukrainian Music Institute of America. Zalesky’s writings include the pioneering Pohliad na istoriiu ukraïns’koï muzyky (A Look at the History of Ukrainian Music, 1916), Muzychnyi slovnyk (A Music Dictionary, 1925), Korotkyi narys istoriï ukraïns’koï muzyky (A Small Sketch of the History of Ukrainian Music, 1951), Zahal’ni osnovy muzychnoho znannia (General Principles of Musical Knowledge, 1958), and Mala ukraïns’ka muzychna entsyklopediia (A Concise Ukrainian Music Encyclopedia, 1971). He also composed choral music, art songs, and piano miniatures.
Composer and conductor MARIAN KOUZAN was born in 1925 in Isai, Turka county, Galicia, and died in 2005 in Framont, France. Arriving in France at the age of two, he studied violin under Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory and then turned to conducting and composing. In 1966 he organized and conducted the Alpha-Omega Orchestra of Paris, and later he became music director of the Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion. He specialized in conducting medieval and Renaissance music. Kouzan’s development as a composer was influenced by Ukrainian folk music and such masters as E. Varèse, A. Schoenberg, and B. Bartók. His compositions, which are written mostly in the modern idiom, include orchestral and other instrumental music, vocal music, and incidental music for films. In 1984 Kouzan’s cantata L’amour de l’homme was performed in Chartres Cathedral. A monograph Mariian Kuzan by Stefania Pavlyshyn appeared in Lviv in 1993.
Pianist, composer, and educator WADYM KIPA (1912-1968) was born in Kuchmisterska Slobodka, a suburb of Kyiv. He began his musical education at the Kharkiv State Conservatory before transferring to the Kyiv State Conservatory. Upon graduating in 1937, he joined the conservatory’s teaching staff and went on to complete its graduate program in 1941. In 1937, as one of the ten finalists in the first All-Soviet Piano Competition in Moscow, he earned the designation “Laureate of the Soviet Union,” the official citation being personally signed by S. Prokofiev among others. Between 1937 and 1941 he toured the USSR with solo recitals and performed with the Moscow and Kyiv Symphony Orchestras. His appointment as professor in the piano faculty of the Kyiv State Conservatory in 1941 was short-lived owing to the turmoil of World War II. As a displaced person in Germany (1945-1951), Kipa continued to give recitals and teach. In 1951, he immigrated to the United States, where he settled in New York, resumed his pedagogical activities, and gave recitals and made solo appearances in the U.S. and Canada. During this period, he also significantly increased his activities as composer. His compositions, which date back to 1939, consist primarily of works for piano solo and for voice and piano (art songs). Stylistically they can be said to develop from neo-romanticism to impressionism and neoclassicism with tonal and rhythmic autonomy.
Born in Hadynkivtsi, near Chortkiv in western Ukraine, IHOR SONEVYTSKY (1926-2006) began his musical education at the Lysenko Institute in Lviv. At 18, on the recommendation of the composer Vasyl Barvinsky, he was accepted into the composition class of Josef Marx at the Vienna Music Academy. However, the Communist occupation of Vienna forced the family into a displaced persons camp in Munich, where in 1950 Sonevytsky completed his musical studies with a diploma from the Hochschule für Musik. He immigrated to the United States that same year, returning to Munich a decade later to earn a PhD in musicology from the Ukrainian Free University (1961). Settling in New York, he became a cofounder of the Ukrainian Music Institute of America, serving as its director from 1959 to 1961, and in 1983, founder, president, and artistic director of the Music and Art Center of Green County, where every summer world-class artists perform in the idyllic setting of the Catskills. His compositions include the opera Star, the ballet Cinderella, incidental music for numerous theater plays, a piano concerto, variations and miniatures for piano, approximately 60 art songs, the cantata Love Ukraine, and church music.
VIRKO BALEY (b. 1938), composer, conductor, pianist, and writer, is a Jacyk Fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, Distinguished Professor and Composer-in-Residence at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and contributor to The New Grove Dictionary of Music. He is the former music director of the Nevada Symphony Orchestra and Las Vegas Chamber Players, and the current director of Nextet, a new music ensemble at UNLV. Together with Ivan Karabyts, he founded the first international music festival in Ukraine, the Kyiv Music Fest. He is the president and producer of TNC and TNC-Jazz Recordings. In 2007 he received the Grammy Award as recording co-producer for TNC Recordings. In 2008, for his work as a composer, the prestigious Academy Award in Music 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.”
Serge Bortkiewicz (Serhii Bortkevych) (1877-1952) described himself as a romantic and a melodist, and he had an emphatic aversion to what he called modern, atonal, and cacophonous music. His musical style builds on the sounds and structures of Chopin, Liszt and the unmistakable influences of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, and early Scriabin. Born in Kharkiv in Ukraine, Bortkiewicz initially studied in St. Petersburg but soon furthered his musical education at the Leipzig Conservatory. After establishing himself as a pianist and composer, he initially settled in Berlin, but during World War I he was forced to leave Germany. Bortkiewicz was back in Kharkiv just in time to witness the Russian revolution. The Red Army surrounded his estate, and the composer barely managed to escape by steamer to Constantinople in November 1919. By 1922 Bortkiewicz had arrived in Austria, and obtained citizenship in 1925. Yet, in a case of history repeating itself, Bortkiewicz went to live in Paris and Berlin only to be forced to leave Germany again in 1933. This time, he faced persecution from the Nazis and he was banned from performing. In addition, the greater part of his printed compositions, held by his German publisher Rather & Litolff, were destroyed in the bombing of German cities. Financially destitute he returned to Vienna with his wife and both experienced unbearable conditions throughout the Second World War. As he writes to a friend on 8 December 1945: “I am writing to you from my bathroom where we have crawled in because it is small and can be warmed on and off with a gas light. The other rooms cannot be used and I cannot touch my piano. This is now! What awaits us further? Life is becoming more and more unpleasant, merciless. I teach at the Conservatory with the heat at 4 degrees, soon even less!” Bortkiewicz died on 25 October 1952 in Vienna.