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Posted in Ukrainian believe it or not on February 5, 2015
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.”
Posted in Bicentennial of Taras Shevchenko's birth on December 11, 2013
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.
Posted in Music on December 7, 2013
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
Posted in Art on November 14, 2013
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.
Posted in Music on November 2, 2013
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)
First-ever English translation of Shevchenko’s complete Kobzar presented at the Ukrainian Institute of America
Posted in Book Presentation on October 28, 2013
In June 2010, when Pennsylvania-born Peter Fedynsky was nearing the end of his tenure as Voice of America’s Moscow Bureau Chief, a talk with some Tajik construction workers in Russia led him to a fateful decision. The casual conversation, he recalled in an interview recently, made him ponder the difficult lot of ordinary Russians and Ukrainians. “They are both wonderful peoples that have suffered under callous leaders, corrupt elites and rigged justice,” said Fedynsky. “As I crossed a bridge over the Moscow River, I looked at the nearby Shevchenko monument, and a feeling swept across my chest that said, ‘Translate The Kobzar,’ because its depiction of that lot is still relevant, and the poems are enormously entertaining to boot. I rushed to my apartment, which was about five minutes away, pulled out my laptop and started.”
This past October 11th, Fedynsky, now retired from his 30-plus career as a journalist, stood on a podium at the Ukrainian Institute of America (UIA) in New York to introduce the public to the fruit of that decision: the first-ever English translation of the entire Kobzar, Taras Shevchenko’s iconic collection of poetry. The book presentation was one in a series of events the UIA, one of the book’s sponsors, has organized to mark the Bicentennial of Shevchenko’s birth in 2014.
It’s a sure bet that just about every Ukrainian would be familiar with at least some of Shevchenko’s work. While parts of the Kobzar have been previously translated into English and other languages, the significance of Fedynsky’s translation of the complete Kobzar may well be that a good part of the rest of the world can now get a much broader perspective on Shevchenko’s genius and relevance, according to attendees at the book presentation.
“This full English translation makes the seminal 19th Century masterpiece, long a national treasure, immediately accessible to a broad, international audience,” said Andrew Horodysky, a private art consultant. “For both the lay and academic public, It opens the door to the spiritual and psychological condition of Ukraine,” he added. “It is at once contemporary in linguistic treatment, yet vehemently maintains and defends the relevancy of the poet’s sensibilities and prophetic observations.” Echoing Horodysky, Sofika Zielyk, a pysanka artist, noted that it was “high time the rest of the world hears Shevchenko’s prophetic voice and understands why we consider him the greatest poet of our nation.” And from the perspective of a Ukrainian language teacher who tutors children and teenagers in the Ukrainian language, culture and literature, she said that thanks to Fedynsky’s translation of the Kobzar her pupils, “whose native language is English, will be better able to appreciate Shevchenko’s genius.”
Asked about his own views on Shevchenko’s relevance and appeal to non-Ukrainians, Fedynsky held that the poet’s treatment of topics such as love, brotherhood, justice, envy, fame, religious faith or lack thereof, as well as hope and despair are universal themes that transcend time and place. “Non-Ukrainians can learn from Shevchenko about Ukraine and perhaps wonder how it is that such a large piece of real estate and its people were kept hidden from the rest of the world for centuries. The world may also learn that slavery and authoritarian rule are more pernicious than they imagined, but also that hope springs eternal.” Of added interest to non-Ukrainians, he said, is that Shevchenko’s poetry spans a broad geography, taking the reader “on a journey involving about 20 countries, from Egypt, Israel and the Holy Land, through ancient Rome, Turkey, Poland, The Czech Republic, Russia, and on to Kazakhstan, with China, Japan and the United States making brief appearances.”
Fedynsky also sees parallels between the dark side of life in Shevchenko’s day as described in the Kobzar, and the social and political upheavals in today’s Ukraine. “What is today’s sex trafficking of Ukrainian women by the hundreds of thousands if not the rapes of Ukrainian women in serfdom described by Shevchenko? What are mazhory, the spoiled and law-breaking brats of today’s elites, if not Shevchenko’s lordlings (panychi)? What are the bitter political rivalries of contemporary Ukraine if not struggles involving such infamous figures depicted in the Kobzar as Galagan, Kisil and Kochubey-Nahay?” Still, said Fedynsky, despite the “downers”, Shevchenko leaves the reader “with a sense of beauty and hope that those problems can and will be solved.”
At the UIA presentation, Fedynsky also addressed some of the more controversial passages in the Kobzar, such as perceived anti-Semitism, xenophobia or anti-Catholicism. The Kobzar is not without “dissonance,” he said, but Shevchenko resolves the dissonance “through appeals to brotherhood as well as explicit condemnations of the hate that some accuse him or harboring.” For example, while Shevchenko denounced Russian czars, he praised writer Mikhail Lermontov as a saint and reformer Alexander Herzen as an apostle, Fedynsky noted. Moreover, most of Shevchenko’s negative portrayals of Jews “were expressed by characters that were demented or drunk.” Other negative portrayals, he said, struck him as “gratuitous” or in the vein of literary anti-Semitism seen in such writers as Dostoyevsky, Dickens, T.S. Eliot and others. “In real life,” he added, “there is a documented instance of Shevchenko running into the burning home of a Ukrainian Jew to help save his belongings, and then chastising others for not helping. Shevchenko and other Ukrainian intellectuals also signed an open letter to a St. Petersburg newspaper in support of Jews, which was a very bold move for its time, especially considering that it came soon after his release from ten years of exile.” In his foreword to Fedynsky’s translation, Michael M. Naydan, professor of Ukrainian Studies an Pennsylvania State University, similarly notes that Shevchenko’s basic humanity was recognized by Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who wrote that “Shevchenko gave his people and the entire world brilliant and unshakable proof that the Ukrainian soul is capable of flying at the highest reaches of cultural innovation.”
While previous translations of some of Shevchenko’s poetry tried to retain the rhyme of the original work, Fedynsky opted for free verse. The reason, he said, is that while most literary translations involve a compromise between aesthetics and meaning, “the problem is particularly acute with Shevchenko’s Kobzar, because his language is so light and eloquent that even translators in other Slavic languages have trouble conveying it. So instead of focusing on how Shevchenko wrote, I decided to translate what he wrote, because his content is as compelling as his language is beautiful.” Fedynsky said he kept only two rules for his translation: “strict adherence to the meaning of the original, and a constant rhythm, which was facilitated by the rich vocabulary of English.”
Judging by audience reaction at the UIA event, Fedinsky may have a hit on his hands. The sizable crowd was entertained by a rollicking presentation that ranged from the reading of excerpts from the translation, to displays of replicas of some of Shevchenko’s most renowned paintings, to musical interludes selected to show the range of Shevchenko’s taste—such as Beethoven– and reflecting the songs he mentions in the Kobzar.
Readings and performances were given by Fedynsky; the Ukrainian-American poet Dzvinia Orlowsky, a teacher of poetry at Pine Manor College near Boston; Bob Holman, founder and proprietor of New York’s Bowery Poetry Club and teacher of creative writing at NYU and Columbia University; violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv, the artistic director of the UIA’s Music at the Institute (MATI) concert series; pianist Pavlo Gintov, who studied at the Lysenko Conservatory in Kyiv and the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow; Jurij Fedynsky, a North Carolina native who moved to Ukraine in 2002 and where he has been active in helping revive kobza and similar Ukrainian musical instruments traditions; and Bridget Cory, an American singer who tours with British rock star Rod Stewart. Cory performed a rousing rendition of Yes My Darling Daughter, by American songwriter Jack Lawrence. The tune, a major American hit in 1941, was based on Oy, ne khody Hrytsiu, a melody that Shevchenko mentioned.
Shevchenko, no doubt, would have been pleased.
By Roman Czajkowsky
This article was published in The Ukrainian Weekly on October 27, 2013.
Paperback and hardback editions of the English-version Kobzar, published by London, U.K.-based Glagoslav Publications, are available on amazon.com. A gift edition – a hefty tome that weighs in on 500 pages and contains numerous illustrations of Shevchenko’s paintings, drawings and photo-portraits—as well as electronic versions are available on the publisher’s web site, glagoslav.com. The publication also has a Facebook site, Kobzar Tweet.
Posted in Art on October 28, 2013
The Ukrainian Institute of America is pleased to present the 20th Century Modern Ukrainian Art Exhibit. The exhibition opened on September 28, 2013 at the Ukrainian Institute of America and is on display until November 13, 2013. This exhibit features works by Archipenko, Andreenko, Burliuk, Gritchenko, Hnizdovsky, Hutsaliuk, Olenska-Petryshyn, and Solovij. The Ukrainian Institute of America invites its members and the general public to a reception on October 29, 2013, from 6 to 8 p.m. marking one of the last opportunities to view this Exhibition.
Mykhailo ANDREENKO-NECHYTAILO (1894 – 1982)
Mykhailo Andreenko-Nechytailo was born in 1894 in Odessa, Ukraine.
He studied at the art school of the Society for the Promotion of the Arts in Saint Petersburg with N. Rerikh, A. Rylov, and I. Bilibin. In 1914–16 he exhibited the composition Black Dome and his first cubist works in Saint Petersburg and participated in an international graphics exhibition in Leipzig. From 1917–24 he devoted most of his time to designing stage sets for various theaters—in Saint Petersburg, Odessa, Prague, Paris, and for the Royal Opera in Bucharest. In 1923, Andreenko-Nechytailo moved to Paris, where he worked on films such as Casanova and Sheherazade and continued to paint in the cubist-constructivist style. In the 1930s Andreenko-Nechytailo produced a series of surrealist paintings. He switched to neorealism in the 1940s and painted a number of portraits as well as a series the cityscapes. Andreenko-Nechytailo`s work is characterized by a precision of composition that harmonizes subtly with color. His stage sets are remarkable for their laconic quality and architectural schematism, and his costume designs, for their richness. He died in 1982 in Paris, France.
Yuriy SOLOVIJ (1921-2008)
A graduate of the Lviv Arts and Crafts School (1944) and a postwar refugee in Germany and then the United States, Solovij experimented with several styles (postimpressionism, expressionism, abstract expressionism). He used mixed media in unusual combinations and was preoccupied with the themes of birth and death. His later works deal with the universality of pain in human life. Some of his characteristic works are Motherhood (1947), Astral (1948), Crucifixion (1950, 1969), and the series ‘1,000 Heads.’ Solo exhibitions of his works were held in New York (1959, 1965, 1970, 1972, 2000), Chicago (1960, 1972, 1980), Toronto (1963, 1972, 1973), Munich (1971), and Winnipeg (1973). His art criticism were published in the émigré press and separately as Pro rechi bil’shi nizh zori (About Things Greater than Stars, 1978).
Alexander ARCHIPENKO (1887-1964)
Archipenko was a Ukrainian avant-garde artist, sculptor, and graphic artist. He was born in Kyiv and attended the Kyiv Art School. A year later moved to Moscow where he participated in exhibitions with symbolists such as Kazimir Malevich and Mikhail Vrubel, and first was exposed to the work of artists from Paris such as Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, Gaugin, van Gogh and Matisse. Archipenko moved to Paris in 1908 and was a resident of La Ruche, a neighborhood of émigré Eastern European painters. During World War I, the artist sought exile in Nice, and then moved to Germany in 1921. He finally settled in the US where he lived until his death. In art, Archipenko departed from the neo-classical sculpture of his time, using faceted planes and negative space to create a new way of looking at the human figure, showing a number of views of the subject simultaneously. He is known for introducing sculptural voids, and for his inventive mixing of genres throughout his career: devising ‘sculpto-paintings’, and later experimenting with materials such as clear acrylic and terra cotta.
Jacques HNIZDOVSKY (1915-1985)
Hnizdovsky was a Ukrainian-American painter, printmaker, sculptor, ex libris designer, book illustrator, and art historian. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and Zagreb, and produced hundreds of paintings, as well as over 300 prints after his move to the United States in 1949. He was inspired by woodblock printing in Japan as well as the woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer. Hnizdovsky’s woodcuts frequently depict plants and animals, and the primary reason for this, in the beginning, after his arrival in the United States, was the lack of funds to pay for a human model. But what was first a substitute for the human form later became his primary subject matter. He was well known in the botanical gardens and zoos in New York, where he would find subjects willing to pose for no cost. The sheep from the Bronx Zoo went on to be the print Hnizdovsky was best known for, and it illustrated the poster for his very successful exhibition at the Lumley Cazalet Gallery in London.
Arcadia OLENSKA-PETRYSHYN (1934-1996)
Olenska-Petryshyn was a notable Ukrainian-American artist and critic. She was born in Galicia, Ukraine. An émigré to the US since 1950, she completed her studies at the University of Chicago. Most of her work consists of lithographs, graphics and oils. Her early works were abstract, then she depicted human figures with expressionless faces, recently she has been producing paintings of cacti and prints of plants and trees. Her paintings were displayed in the United States, Canada, Brussels, China and Ukraine.
David BURLIUK (1882 – 1967)
Burliuk was a one-eyed Ukrainian, avant-garde artist (Futurist and Neo-Primitivist), book illustrator, publicist, and author associated with Russian Futurism. From 1898 to 1904, Burliuk studied at the art schools in Kasan and in Odessa, as well as at the Royal Academy in Munich. His exuberant, extroverted character was recognized by Anton Azhbe, his professor at the Munich Acade- my, who called Burliuk a “wonderful wild steppe horse.” In 1909 Burliuk painted a portrait of his future wife, Marussia, on a back- ground of flowers and rocks on the Crimean coast. Many times thereafter he would set the image of his wife to canvas. Without question two dreams possessed his heart all his life: the face of his wife and the portrait of his homeland – first Ukraine and then his adopted country, the United States. From 1918 to 1922 he traveled to the USA via Siberia, Japan, and Canada. Burliuk died on Long Island, NY.
“Art at the Institute” is sponsored by the Ukrainian Institute of America.
Posted in Music on October 24, 2013
On Saturday, October 5th, 2013 a Memorial Concert was held at the Ukrainian Institute of America in honor of Jaroslav Kryshtalsky its esteemed past president. Violinists Oleh Kaskiv, Solomiya Ivakhiv, Emilie-Anne Gendron and Mario Gotoh performed, along with violist Borys Deviatov, cellist Michael Haas, pianist Mykola Sukand and bassist Ryan Kamm.
Over several decades, Jaroslav Kryshtalsky dedicated himself to supporting and leading the Ukrainian Institute of America. In addition to his active membership and generous patronage, he served on the Board of Directors and from 2005 to 2009 as President of the UIA. His leadership focused on membership, programs, fundraising, process, communication, and succession planning. An avid music lover, he was especially supportive of the “Music at the Institute” concert series as its patron and benefactor. Jaroslav Kryshtalsky was exceedingly generous with his time, talents, insights, and resources. His energy, focus, wisdom, and his presence are deeply missed.
Pianist MYKOLA SUK, the winner of the First Prize and Gold Medal at the 1971 International Liszt-Bartok Competition in Budapest, 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 in the most prestigious venues, from the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory to Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and New York’s Carnegie Hall. He has appeared to great critical acclaim as both soloist and chamber musician on the world’s major concert stages and at many distinguished chamber music festivals.
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 national and international festival credits include Tanglewood and Embassy Series (U.S.), Musique de Chambre à Giverny (France), Prussia Cove (England), Banff Centre and Ottawa ChamberFest (Canada), Modern Music “Contrasts” and KyivFest (Ukraine), and Verbier Festival (Switzerland). She has appeared as soloist with the International Symphony, Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra, Henderson Symphony, LondontowneSymphony, 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. She is Assistant Professor of Violin and Viola at Ohio University.
Violinist OLEH KASKIV began his musical studies at the Lysenko Conservatory in Lviv, Ukraine. In 1996, he won a scholarship to study under the tutelage of Alberto Lysy at the International Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland. He is now Professor of Violin at the Academy and leads the Menuhin Academy Orchestra. As a soloist, he regularly performs in his native Ukraine with the National Symphony of Ukraine, the Odessa Philharmonic, and the Lviv Philharmonic Symphony Orchestras and worldwide, with the Camerata Lysy, Camerata de Lausanne, Symphonisches Orchester Zurich, Orchestre National de Belgique, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, and the Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden.
Violinist EMILIE-ANNE GENDRON, lauded by The New York Times as a “brilliant soloist” and by France’s ClassiqueInfo for her “excellent technical mastery” and “undeniable sensitivity,” enjoys an active freelance career based in New York. A deeply committed chamber musician, she is a member of the Momenta Quartet, two-time recipient of the Koussevitzky commission grant and in its tenth year of residence at Temple University. She is also a frequent leader of the conductor-less Sejong Soloists, with which she recently recorded the Mendelssohn Octotet with Gil Shaham; a member of the Toomai String Quintet, specializing in innovative educational outreach and community engagement; and on the roster of the Marlboro Music Festival and the touring Musicians from Marlboro.
Violinist and violist MARIO GOTOH has performed as soloist and chamber musician across North America, the UK, Europe, and Asia. Her appearances at major music festivals include Festival Consonances (France), International Masterclasses Apeldoorn (Netherlands), Banff Centre (Canada), Aspen Music Festival, Boston Early Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Music Academy of the West, Institute and Festival for Contemporary Performance, International Computer Music Festival, and National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts National ARTS Week. She has served as concertmaster, principal violin, and principal viola in orchestras and performs regularly with several ensembles in New York City, including the Knights, Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Ballet Next.
Violist BORYS DEVIATOV is a graduate of the Lysenko Conservatory in Lviv and the winner of top prizes in viola competitions and as a conductor. As a member of the critically acclaimed Leontovych String Quartet, he performed in the major concert halls of North and South America, Europe, and the Far East and participated in many international music festivals, including Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart,” Newport, and Music Mountain. He has collaborated in chamber music performances with such distinguished artists as Yuri Bashmet, Ruggiero Ricci, and Ruth Laredo, to name but a few. He is a member of the Lumina String Quartet and the New York Chamber Symphony and is principal violist of the Bachanalia Chamber Orchestra.
Cellist MICHAEL HAAS frequently performs chamber and orchestral music in New York City and across the country. He is the cellist of the Momenta Quartet, a recent winner of the prestigious Koussevitzky Music Foundation commission grant, and of Silver Roots, a trio that focuses on mixing classical music with folk and world music traditions. Most recently, he has performed at the Society for Ethical Culture, Alice Tully Hall, and The Kennedy Center. A member of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, he has also performed with the New York Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and Princeton Symphony.
RYAN KAMM, double bass, is an active teacher and performer, who has held positions with the Nashville Symphony, New World Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and Haddonfield Symphony. He has appeared as a substitute with the New York City Ballet Orchestra, American Ballet Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, and the North Carolina Symphony. His festival appearances include the Tanglewood Music Center, Spoleto, National Repertory Orchestra, and Kent/Blossom Chamber Festival. He is a co-director of the Preparatory Division at Bard College Conservatory of Music and teaches double bass at Bard College and the Diller Quaile School of Music in New York City.
“Music at the Institute” was sponsored by the Ukrainian Institute of America, 2 East 79th Street, New York, NY
The Ukrainian Institute of America roared Saturday night on September 21, 2013 as the 1920’s came to life. Amidst the Gatsby gents and Charleston ladies, who donned their party finest – adorned by feathers, boas, sequins and shimmy fringes, members and guests all enjoyed this Smashing Jazz Age Party, dancing into the early hours of the morning.
This inaugural UIA-Young Professionals Council fundraiser supported the UIA Arts Preservation Fund. Live Jazz kicked off the evening with James Sheppard and his Trio. Specialty drinks were tailored by Joios mixologists with floral and herbed notes, while fabulous music resonated through the Beaux Arts halls of the Institute. The dance floor has never been so full at such length, all night long. DJ Nick surpassed his Rose Room reputation.
Beginning with their first efforts this summer, the Young Professionals Council has presented several appealing Ukrainian Language Literary Evenings. These events focused on authors and poets of the “60-nykiv”. Revisiting the historic accounts of Ukrainian authors has heightened the interests of this group of 21-35 year old Ukrainians. Guests have listened to the poetry of Vasyl Stus and Lina Kostenko and have gained perspective into their struggles as well as an appreciation for the poetic lyrical majesty and linguistic appeal of our mother tongue.
The UIA-YP Council thrives on the participation of young Ukrainians. This cultural program provides opportunities for young American Ukrainians and Ukrainian-born citizens to mingle, share knowledge, compare educational methods and personal experiences of ‘being brought up UKRAINIAN’ on different continents. Whether to touch base with the cultural heritage of our parents, to hear our Ukrainian spoken or to just enjoy the company of a young community in many languages, this Young Professional Council is on the right track. The many formats UIA-YPC offer gives something for every young Ukrainian to enjoy.
By Chrysanna Woroch