LSM Newswire

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pavlo Hunka Returns to Toronto to continue the Ukrainian Art Song Project

Pavlo Hunka returns to Toronto to continue
the work of the Ukrainian Art Song Project

Rosewood Poster

Following a series of operatic engagements in Europe, the celebrated British bass-baritone Pavlo Hunka has returned to Toronto for the summer of 2012 to continue his work on the Ukrainian Art Song Project (UASP), founded by him in 2004 to acquire, record, and promote some 1,000 art songs by 26 of Ukraine's classical composers.

Hunka is currently rehearsing Phase 4 of the Project, titled The Galicians: The Art Songs, which will culminate in the recording of over 200 classical treasures–eight hours of sublime music representing the entire repertoire of 11 composers from Halychyna (Galicia) in Western Ukraine. This phase is scheduled to take three years to complete and will be launched in the autumn of 2014 at the Royal Conservatory's Koerner Hall in Toronto. By then, 421 art songs will have been recorded in the Glenn Gould Studio at the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in Toronto, placing the Project almost halfway to its goal.

Joining Hunka on The Galicians: The Art Songs is a cast of performers drawn from Canada's finest classical musicians, including sopranos Nathalie Paulin (who joins the project for the first time) and Monica Whicher, mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó, tenors Colin Ainsworth and Benjamin Butterfield, baritone Russell Braun, pianists Albert Krywolt, Serouj Kradjian, and Carolyn Maule (also new to the project), and violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon of the renowned Gryphon Trio.

Once again, Canada's Roman Hurko will return from New York to produce the recordings. Hurko has most recently been composing his third Liturgy, this time to an English text.

Since the triumphant launch of Mykola Lysenko: The Art Songs, at the Royal Conservatory's Koerner Hall in Toronto in December 2010, and of Yakiv Stepovyi: The Art Songs at the Winspear Centre in Edmonton in February 2011–celebrated with a 17-minute standing ovation–Pavlo Hunka's operatic commitments have taken him to La Monnaie in Brussels to sing the role of Dikoj in Janaček's Katya Kabanova, to the Gulbenkian Arts Festival in Lisbon where he performed the role of Šiškov in Janaček's From the House of the Dead, and to the Berlin Staatsoper for a new production of Wozzeck, which he performed under the baton of Daniel Barenboim. He will return to Berlin in the autumn of 2011 for a new production of Smetana's The Bartered Bride.

Hunka has been invited to perform a recital of Lysenko art songs on July 8, 2012 at the Passau Kultur Wochen, marking the first time that Ukrainian art songs will take centre stage at one of the most prominent classical music festivals in Europe, fittingly in Germany, the centre of the classical art song.

The composers whose works are showcased in The Galicians: The Art Songs are Denys Sichynsky (1865–1909), Stanyslav Liudkevych (1879–1979), Vasyl Barvinsky (1888–1963), Stefania Turkewich (1898–1977), Ostap Nyzhankivsky (1862-1919), Yaroslav Lopatynsky (1871–1936), Nestor Nyzhankivsky (1893–1940), Ihor Sonevytsky (1926-2006), Myroslav Skoryk (1938–), Yevhen Stankovych (1942–), and Myroslav Volynsky (1955–).

Their music reflects the diverse artistic movements prevalent in 19th and 20th century Europe–Romanticism, Verismo, Impressionism, Avant-garde, and Modern–allowing them to be positioned seamlessly amongst composers of other western European nations. Many of these composers studied in Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Paris, and London, adopting an array of styles to blend with their Ukrainian influences. All deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as other world famous European composers.

Ukraine's first female classical composer, Stefania Turkewich, is included in the group of 11. After years of research, Hunka finally located her works when Zoya Nyzhankivskiy, the daughter of Turkewich, attended an operatic performance of his in Geneva in 2010. They became acquainted and Nyzhankivskiy introduced Hunka to her younger sister, Maria, a psychology professor retired from Cambridge University in England. It was Maria who made available the 19 exquisite art songs composed by her mother. Now, the artists recording The Galicians: The Art Songs have the privilege of performing these songs from handwritten original manuscripts of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

According to Hunka, "As Lesia Ukrainka is the first daughter of Ukrainian poetry, so Stefania Turkewich is the first daughter of Ukrainian classical music. All Ukrainians and, indeed, the whole world must hear of this unique woman who has made a massive contribution to classical music culture."

Turkewich's music reflects influences of Claude Debussy, Arnold Schoenberg, early Alban Berg, Benjamin Britten, and Kurt Weill. She studied in Lviv and Vienna, and in Berlin with Arnold Schoenberg. The artists recording her music have been enchanted by the unique voice found within the music of this avant-garde composer, with its fragility, intimacy, and exquisite melodic line.

The Ukrainian Art Song Project continues to attract supporters and admirers internationally, as word of its accomplishments spreads and as music lovers learn more about Ukraine's world-class composers and the invaluable legacy the Project is creating.


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