Saint Alexander’s Cathedral hosted an unusual concert with Verdi’s Quattro pezzi sacri (Four Sacred Pieces) performed by the Dumka Cappella Choir accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Yevhen Savchuk).
Verdi composed them in the twilight of his life. Yevhen Savchuk says that such music must be performed in a house of God, because the audience perceives it correctly only there. Ave Maria was done a cappella and Stabat Mater accompanied by the orchestra. The female part of the choir showed a filigree performance in Laudi alla Vergine Maria. Te Deum, marking the emotional peak, was done by the choir and orchestra. The concert was dedicated to the pontifical visit to Ukraine and attended by both accredited diplomats and representatives of religious confessions. It was generally agreed that the choir had succeeded in conveying Verdi’s music, stressing the grandeur of the maestro’s creative legacy.
The last month has been quite trying for the Dumka Choir. They performed in Poland, June 6, in the premiere of Yevhen Stankovych’s The Lay of the Host of Ihor, Son of Sviatoslav, Grandson of Oleh for soprano, tenor, baritone, bass, mixed choir, and symphony orchestra. It was performed at the National Philharmonic Society of Warsaw and proved a definite success.
Yevhen Stankovych has turned to historical subjects on more than one occasion. Thus, his symphony for the Diptych Choir could be describe as a prelude to The Lay of the Host of Ihor, as he uses two episodes from that literary masterpiece. National opera soloists Iryna Semenenko, Mykola Koval, Serhiy Mahera, and Dumka tenor Mykhailo Tyshchenko sang with the choir accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine (Volodymyr Syrenko). The Lay of the Host of Ihor is a serious musical epic picture drawn by Ukrainian artists. Yevhen Savchuk believes that Stankovych’s composition can be regarded as one of the best in his creative heritage. It is kept in the composer’s typically expressive energy-intensive style. His musical language is precise and very expressive. He raises the main topic of preserving his native land and building a nation state. Mr. Savchuk says the topic remains relevant today. Stankovych has a keen sense of the orchestra and writes scores for all the instruments. He is both a composer and playwright. The Ukrainian audience will hear this composition on June 28, Constitution Day, at the National Philharmonic Society of Ukraine.
Dumka vied in the recent choral festival Golden-domed Kyiv in the modern psalm nomination. At the first stage of the contest, scores, audio and video records were selected. In the second round, selected compositions were performed by reputed choirs. Dumka selected Psalm 22 My God, my God, why hast Thou Forsaken Me? composed by Hanna Havrylets and winning the Grand Prix. The jury also awarded the choir’s rendition of Psalm 143 Hear My Prayer, O Lord... (music by Yuri Ishchenko) and Psalm15 Lord, Who shall Abide in Thy Tabernacle? (Volodymyr Stetsenko).
Dumka’s immediate plans include performances for pilgrims during Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ukraine. The choir performed in the Mass celebrated by the Vicar of Christ and in events commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the Great Patriotic War (1941-45).