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Kyiv Music Fest: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

One of Ukraine’s first music festivals marks its 20th anniversary
13 October, 00:00

This time Kyiv Music Fest consisted of 23 events, including five symphony concerts (“Music Frescoes,” “In Memoria,” “With an Angel on the Shoulder,” “Mystery of Sounds,” and “Symphony Premieres”), four choral concerts (“21st-Century Ukrainian Religious Music,” “Choral Concerts. Soiree of Premieres,” “Blahovist Presents…,” and “Divine Gift. Children Singing”), and chamber concerts.

In commemoration of Nikolai Gogol’s 200th jubilee Kyiv Music Fest featured Taras Bulba staged by the Luhansk Music Drama Theater with music by Serhii Turneev, a premiere rendition of Myroslav Skoryk’s “Ballad of the Dnipro” and Tetiana Oskomenko-Parulava’s symphony “Gogoliad-XXI.” Among the festival events were a choir and symphony orchestra’s performance of canonical religious songs to the lyrics of Yevhen Stankovych and Ivan Nebesny’s chamber opera Pictures from the Insects’ Life (based on Karel Capek’s title play), and debut concerts.

Among the interesting numbers were the piano duet of Dmytro Tavanets and Oleksandra Zaitseva, Major Kyiv brass quintet, Quarta+ new music ensemble, the pianist Oleh Kopeliuk, the bayan player Oleksandr Mishchenko, and others. There were guests from abroad, among them pianist Aleksandr Vaulin (Russia-Denmark), harpsichordist Sofia Gandilyan (Russia), conductor Nicolas Farine (Switzerland), and composer Jean-Luc Darbellay (Switzerland) who conducted a master class at the National Music Academy of Ukraine.

The return to Ukraine of Levko Revutsky’s manuscript of his Piano Concerto No.2 was a true sensation. It was brought from Denmark by the Russian pianist Aleksandr Vaulin who has been living and working in Denmark since 1989. He read a letter from Illia Berg who had provided the manuscript: “When my father Erwin Berg was employed by the Kyiv Conservatory of Music as a vocal teacher, he met the Ukrainian composer Levko Revutsky, who was a conservatory professor at the time. It was Revutsky who recommended the Russian-German pianist Lotte Schlesinger (she was also a conservatory professor) as my music teacher. Shortly before we left Kyiv in 1937, Revutsky gave my father the manuscript of his Piano Concerto No.2, so it could be performed in the West. Since my father failed to arrange for its performance in Denmark, he gave me the music score. Unfortunately, I couldn’t arrange for a rendition, either. I kept the music score for several years and then I suggested to my friend, the pianist Aleksandr Vaulin, to bring the manuscript to Kyiv where it should be stored, I’m sure.” For the time being this manuscript is kept by the National Composers’ Union of Ukraine, considering that Levko Revutsky was its first chairman.


In order to comprehend and assess current realities, one has to know and remember history. Kyiv Music Fest was founded by Ivan F. Karabyts (1945–2002), a gifted composer, conductor, professor with the National Music Academy of Ukraine, music director of Kyiv Music Fest, artistic director of the soloist ensemble Kyiv Kamerata, and head of the jury of International Competition for Young Pianists in Memory of Vladimir Horowitz. In the 13 years of his chairmanship Karabyts had raised the festival to a high international level. This year’s forum was a jubilee one and the time is probably ripe for this festival to be named after its founding father.

Says Dr. Marianna Kopytsia, Karabyts’ widow, who is a noted music critic and professor with the Peter Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine: “His cherished dream was Ukraine becoming known to the rest of the word. The festival’s main concept is the Ukrainian theme in world culture; Ukrainian music and the world. Karabyts started traveling to various countries at his own expense. He wanted to collect the Ukrainian forces scattered across the world (many people emigrated from Ukraine, among them Marina Tchaikovsky, Oleh Krysa, the Leontovych Quartet, Leonid Hrabovsky, Mykola Suk, and a great many singers). Karabyts first visited America; he spent a long time figuring out what would be the best name for the festival. Here the main requirement was a pointer to the place of the event. It was thus the three symbols of the future Kyiv Music Fest came to be.”


Regrettably, few remember Ivan Karabyts, the founder of this festival. As it was, this year’s jubilee Kyiv Music Fest featured only two of his works: Piano Concerto No.2 and two songs from the “Mother” cycle, to Borys Oliinyk’s lyrics. The latter was performed by Tamara Khodakova and Kyiv Kamerata at the Philharmonic Society as part of the concert “Kyiv Kamerata Welcomes You.”

His Piano Concerto was performed by Kyiv Music Fest ‘09 debutant Oleh Kopeliuk as part of the program “In Memoria.” He is a truly gifted pianist, a third-year student at Kotliarevsky Kharkiv State University, studying under the able guidance of Prof. Tetiana Verkina. In fact, Oleh is one of few propagandists of Ivan Karabyts’s compositions. Apart from Piano Concerto No.2, the young man’s repertoire includes Karabyts’ “Prelude and Toccata” Cycle and his preludes from the “24 Preludes” Cycle.

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