For five years running, the Dumka Choir has been performing at France’s high-profile musical festivals. According to choir conductor Yevhen Savchuk, over the years the choir has won the hearts of countless music lovers and snagged a host of offers from foreign impresarios, undisputed proof of the Ukrainian choir’s international prestige and excellence.
Before the singers even set foot on Ukrainian soil, good news was already waiting for them in Kyiv. The French newspaper Le Figaro published a lavish review of the Ukrainian choir’s concert, calling it “triumphant.” Dumka had rehearsed Beethoven’s majestic Missa Solemnis especially for its tour of France. This famous choral work is seldom performed, since only the most consummate professional vocalists are up to the challenge. Our singers performed it jointly with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Katowice, conducted by Miroslaw Blaszczyk, and a vocal quartet from Poland. “Despite its length, Beethoven’s grand Missa Solemnis dissolved in the valiant choral masses of the Dumka Choir from Kyiv,” the reviewer of Le Figaro declared.
The Hector Berlioz Festival, held for the ninth time in La CЭte St. AndrП — the legendary composer’s native city — featured the international premiere of Missa Solemnis. This was Dumka’s fifth appearance at this high-profile gathering. The choir’s concerts at the Abbey of La Chaise Dieu were equally successful. Despite the pricey tickets (starting at 100 euros), Dumka always performed to a full house. After one of the choir’s performances, Yevhen Savchuk was approached by Guy Ramona, the honorary director general of the Hector Berlioz Festival, who congratulated him on the choir’s success and personally invited the Ukrainian singers to La Chaise Dieu next year. In what proved to be a pleasant surprise for the Dumka singers, French Ambassador to Ukraine Philippe de Suremain attended the concert and admitted to being a long-time admirer of the choir. He tries not to miss a single performance by the choir in Kyiv. On learning that Dumka was participating in the festival, Mr. Suremain and his wife traveled to La Chaise Dieu especially for this occasion. According to Mr. Suremain, “each Dumka concert swells the ranks of its admirers.” He their excellence and the pleasure that music lovers derive from their performances.
The choir continued its concert tour in southern France. They gave two concerts in Saint Maximin, performing in the famous basilica, the tallest building in this ancient town. Dumka performed Verdi’s Requiem and Europe’s anthem — Ode to Joy (the finale of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony). The audience at Chateau La Roque was delighted by the choir’s a capella program that featured the Ukrainian singers’ interpretations of works by Western European composers. This was the second time that Dumka has participated in the international musical festival in this beautiful Alpine town. The choir gave an encore after their performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil.
As part of the Year of Ukraine in Poland, a few weeks ago Warsaw hosted the presentation of Valentyn Sylvestrov’s CD Requiem for Larysa, recorded by the Dumka Choir. This album was nominated for the prestigious Grammy Award.
Dumka begins its new concert season in Kyiv on September 28 at the National Philharmonic of Ukraine. The singers will take part in the Kyiv Music Festival, presenting works by the contemporary Ukrainian composers Lesia Dychko and Viktor Stepurko. The choir’s plans for this year include performances with the legendary Polish composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki, with whom the choir has forged a strong professional relationship. Mr. Penderecki recalls their first meeting: “We met in 1999 in Kyiv. My Credo was performed for the first time in Ukraine together with Dumka. The choir managed to convey all the subtleties of this work. The Dumka Choir is a top-notch team that can perform the most complex works by both classic authors and contemporary composers. We have encountered the choir and the Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic of Ukraine at various festivals abroad and in Kyiv. At last year’s festival at the Abbey of La Chaise Dieu, the audience was very appreciative of our Polish- Ukrainian creative partnership and the program that was prepared especially for this event. We performed not only Credo, but also my Lacrymosa and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I hope that our upcoming collaboration in Kyiv will not disappoint music lovers.”
As Mr. Savchuk put it, it is an honor and great responsibility to perform alongside a maestro like Krzysztof Penderecki. He is rightfully considered a classic of contemporary academic music. Maestro Penderecki is not only a celebrated composer whose works are performed in the best musical venues of the world, but also a brilliant conductor and subtle interpreter of compositions by maestros of centuries past. Krzysztof Penderecki’s works reflect the musical history of modernity. The maestro has managed to shape his own inimitable style, which combines vanguardist and classical elements. All of the composer’s works, reflecting the polyphony of the contemporary world, are marked by brilliant musical language. We are very pleased to present Ukrainian music lovers with new works by this world famous Polish composer.