International Scientific Conference “Opera Reforms of the Past and Present,” hosted by Pyotr Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine, was a great success. The conference is devoted to the significant anniversary dates of 2013. Musicologists focused their discussion on such unique figures in history of opera as Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi. The world widely celebrates 200th anniversary of their birth with new performances, concerts, publications of monographs and scientific studies, TV programs, and various campaigns.
The conference in Kyiv opened with a concert of the famous music team led by Valerii Matiukhin – National Ensemble of Soloists “Kyivska Kamerata.” Along with two pieces by Wagner: vocal cycle on poems by Mathilde Wesendonck in new orchestra arrangement made by an outstanding Ukrainian composer Yevhen Stankovych and Siegfried Idyll, music by young Ukrainian composers Oleksii Voitenko, Vitalii Vyshynsky, Maksym Shalyhin, and Oleksii Retynsky were performed. All four of these Ukrainian composers are active members of the Kyiv Wagner Society and Wagner Stipendium Fellows, who had the honor to visit the world famous opera festival in the center of propaganda of the great opera reformer work – in Bayreuth.
The conference was also devoted to the anniversaries of Sergei Rachmaninoff and two Ukrainian musicians of different generations, whose work in the field of opera was really reformist – Semen Hulak-Artemovsky, who was born the same year with Wagner and Verdi. A famous singer of Russian Imperial Theaters, he became the author of the first Ukrainian opera Zaporozhets za Dunaiem (Zaporozhian Cossack Beyond the Danube), which was staged at the Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theater and since then had a great success on the stages of all Ukrainian theaters, not only opera theaters but also music and drama theaters, and even puppet theaters. The conference program includes production of the opera by Hulak-Artemovsky performed by opera studio of the National Academy of Music. The opera is staged by coryphaeus of Ukrainian opera, the famous singer and director Dmytro Hnatiuk. In his introductory speech Hnatiuk told that the opera Zaporozhian Cossack Beyond the Danube accompanies him throughout his career, starting with the first steps as a future singer, through numerous performances in the role of Sultan on the stage of Kyiv theaters, and up to his own directorial interpretation of the opera.
All who were fortunate to be present at the concerts and performances directed by Turchak remembered their impressions and unique memories for a lifetime. Turchak was an ardent Ukrainian patriot and a true creator of Ukrainian music culture, he trained talented singers, formed an artistic image of music teams, worked together with composers, whose music work appeared on theater and symphonic stage in his original direction. Meeting with the great artist played a great role in life of Rozhok, too.
The youngest of the five musicians honored at the conference is a unique musician, “solar maestro,” as the Ukrainian conductor was aptly called by fans of his extraordinary talent, is Stefan Turchak. He died at the age of 50 and this year marks his 75th anniversary. To commemorate this date the publishing house “Lybid” released a monograph by the rector of the National Music Academy of Ukraine Volodymyr Rozhok dedicated to the outstanding conductor. This book can be considered a model from all angles. It comprehensively presented in both the text and the numerous photographs the figure of Stefan Turchak at various stages of his rapid rise to the top of musical Olympus. The design of the book made by Pavlo Mashkov with great taste deserves the highest praise. It as if introduces us to the theatrical atmosphere and the space of the concert hall. Borys Oliinyk gives a sublime poetic description of the unforgettable maestro in a short preface. An important addition to previous works by Rozhok devoted to the creative biography of Turchak became the final chapter of the book titled “The Path to Immortality.” It tells about the Stefan Turchak Conducting Competition launched at the initiative of Rozhok. Thanks to this competition, which at first was a national one and later received a status of international contest, a new talented generation of young heirs of the Ukrainian conductor, worthy to continue his work, entered the music world.
All who were fortunate to be present at the concerts and performances directed by Turchak remembered their impressions and unique memories for a lifetime. Turchak was an ardent Ukrainian patriot and a true creator of Ukrainian music culture, he trained talented singers, formed an artistic image of music teams, worked together with composers, whose music work appeared on theater and symphonic stage in his original direction. Meeting with the great artist played a great role in life of Rozhok, too. Ten years of knowing each other, five of which resulted in joint work in the field of Ukrainian opera, enabled the future biographer and researcher to witness and observe all the stages of the complex process of creating an opera performance: miracle of transformation of the results of painstaking preliminary work into new quality when everyone’s efforts merged in a single burst and the music is as if born again, brought to life by energy, will, fiery temperament of the conqueror of its element – inspired maestro Turchak.
Writing about great conductors is quite a difficult task. Of all the artistic professions conductor is perhaps the most secretive. Music is created by a composer, the result of his work is recorded on music sheets. Every musician plays on his instrument and demonstrates skills that can be directly assessed by the audience. And the instrument played by a conductor is a group of musicians, whom he has to unite and lead. Rozhok managed to fully and vividly show the unique personality of Turchak in the text of his monograph because he understood the scale of his talent and his importance rather early and got fascinated by his talent as a musician and conductor. Choirmaster by profession, Rozhok was able to get into the hidden corners of the creative laboratory of the artist and as a researcher he followed his career as an important component of the development of Ukrainian theater and music.
The presentation of the new book was attended by Turchak’s wife a prominent singer Gizela Tsypola, his daughter Oksana and granddaughter Olena, as well as poets Borys Oliinyk and Pavlo Movchan, academician Mykola Zhulynsky, famous choirmaster, Hero of Ukraine Anatolii Avdiievsky, and the CEO of the publishing house “Lybid” Olena Boiko. Everyone who spoke at the presentation conveyed the common idea that such giants of our culture like Turchak when they leave for the eternity, they remain with us in their new guises. People’s Artist of Ukraine, Doctor of Arts, Professor Rozhok performs the high mission of a person who faithfully cherishes and keeps the memory of the unforgettable maestro.