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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

THE INDEFATIGABLE AVDIYEVSKY Noted Ukrainian choirmaster marks his 65th birthday

13 November, 2012 - 00:00

Anatoly Avdiyevsky is a choirmaster by avocation which nobody can deny in Ukraine. His creative dedication, incredible efficiency and boundless dedication to music are legendary and enchanting.

He has directed the Veriovka National Academic Folk Choir for the past thirty years, joining the company as a young man after an excellent training conducted by Kostiantyn Pihrov at the Odesa Conservatory. It took Avdiyevsky’s zeal and innovative spirit to keep it from becoming yet another “merited choir” jealously preserving the founder’s rock-solid traditions. He encouraged the singers to seek and adopt new daring techniques. Shortly after his appointment the choir came out with a new program called “Christmas and Spring Carols” and the young musician persuaded the Soviet bureaucrats in charge of “culture” to let his choir sing them the way their great grandmothers and grandfathers had done (and other companies had to comply with such censorship for decades on end, devastating the original melodies and lyrics). Practically from the outset Anatoly Avdiyevsky asserted himself as a singularly demanding artistic director and conductor. Every concert was meticulously rehearsed and performed to a T.

We as music students adored his every rehearsal. Personally, I cannot think of another maestro working with such inspiration, being totally immersed in the creative process, achieving such absolute understanding between the conductor, singers, and the orchestra. His energy is captivating and his every movement with the baton is saturated plasticity born of pure perfect talent. In a word, this man seems exude bioenergy making everyone else perform to the best of his or her ability.

His innovative gift is primarily manifest in carefully examining and then creatively improving folk vocal styles. In his own words, every singer must be very well trained professionally. Avdiyevsky’s choir can handle most sophisticate modern compositions, like ones by Lesia Dychko, Valentyn Zubytsky, or Yevhen Stankovych. The latter worked with the choir to create the folk opera Blossoming Fern, which became a special landmark in the choirmaster’s career, for Anatoly Avdiyevsky succeeded in combining folk singing with a philharmonic accompaniment. Regrettably, his music has never been performed in full, only as separate concert numbers. The premiere was banned by those very “cultural” bureaucrats, notifying him of their “well motivated decision” in the dress rehearsal phase.

He took the blow courageously and never wavered from his creative principles. He continued to propagate folk songs and with every performance he placed a greater emphasis on their national singularity. His love for the Ukrainian folk vocal heritage (he is often quoted as saying that there are 300,000 songs recorded by researchers at different periods and that this is a mind-boggling treasure) is his quiet modest way of expressing his filial love for Ukraine. Remarkably, his orchestra musicians have made trips to Poltava, Zhytomyr, and Chernihiv oblasts, recording folk songs, and the choir has a special vocal group performing a unique Ukraine folk improvised polyphony.

Being an expert on folk music, Anatoly Avdiyevsky insists that “every song has its own timbre coloration.” He is keenly aware of it, so every choir rehearsal is like an artist scrutinizing his canvas, applying hues here and there. Actually, the man is a good painter. His life is saturated with creative inspiration. And on more than one occasion in the past his choir has included religious music in his repertoire (at one time this cause raised eyebrows and unfavorable comments, of course). I am sure that in choosing this music he listened to his heart just as his choir has always responded to every move his baton.

Photo by Viktor Marushchenko,The Day: