The program of the Kyiv Music Fest included symphonic, choral and chamber pieces, a few solo works, a workshop entitled “Ukrainian Music of the 1920s,” and a number of other memorable events. About 200 musical works by various composers — from old masters to the latest artistic achievements of Ukraine and other countries — were performed in Kyiv’s finest halls and one church.
According to tradition, Ukrainian music dominated over foreign works. Audiences heard the compositions of Ihor Shcherbakov, Ivan Karabyts, Volodymyr Runchak, Yurii Ishchenko, and Oleksandr Kostin, as well as works by the old masters of our national school of music, ranging from Maksym Berezovsky to Viktor Kosenko.
Ukraine’s contemporary musical palette, which includes compositions by almost 120 authors, half of which were premieres, as well as works by foreign composers were presented by our country’s leading musical ensembles: the National and Presidential Symphonic Orchestras, the symphonic orchestras of the Kyiv and Kharkiv Philharmonics, the chamber orchestras Kyiv Camerata, Kyiv Soloists, Ricochet, New Music in Ukraine, and choirs from Kyiv (Kyiv, Credo, Khreshchatyk, Blahovist), Lutsk (Oranta) and Drohobych (Vidlunnia), and several Ukrainian and foreign soloists and composers.
Among the festival guests were the composers Edward Hart and Alfred Schweitzer, pianists Enrique Graf and Vladimir Winnicki, violinist Li Ching Xiou, violoncellist Natalia Khoma, and ensembles from the Netherlands and Belgium. The festival has a special appeal for artists: a performer always finds it interesting to communicate directly and work with a contemporary composer and then come up with an interesting interpretation. Sometimes composers perform their own works.
One of the distinguishing features of this festival was the unusual mix of diverse musical ensembles and different arts, such as music and theater. There was a high-profile electro-acoustic performance of the works of Pierre Boulez, Ivan Taranenko, and Alla Zahaikevych, which were composed for acoustic and electronic instruments, and for real-time performance. One of this concert’s pivotal events was the appearance of the Polish harpsichordist Marek Toporowski, who also conducted master classes in old music for the students of the National Musical Academy of Ukraine.
The surprising culmination of the concert was the premiere of an electro-acoustic performance by Danylo Pertsov called “Ketsalkoatl,” which caused quite a stir in the hall. The composer and performer walked onto the stage barefoot, deftly jumped into the orchestra pit, and began to perform his opus right there with the participation of actors. Some spectators rushed to the epicenter of this event, while others, disappointed that they were unable to see anything, walked out. He clearly achieved an effect, whether positive or negative.
Music sounded from morning to night in the presence of diverse audiences, ranging from sold-out houses at major (symphonic) events to a narrow circle of spectators at chamber music concerts. One of the picks of the festival was a series of romantic songs for baritone and piano — “My Happiest Letters” by Volodymyr Ptushkin with lyrics based on the letters of Ivan Mazepa to his beloved and performed by Roman Moroz and Hanna Polishchuk.
In most cases, the concerts were attended by people from the music world, such as composers, music specialists, performers, and journalists. The attention and respect of one’s colleagues are an important part of a composer’s professional success, but no less important is interest on the part of non-professional audiences and music lovers, who do not seem to be too indulged by the organizers of the Kyiv Music Fest.
The festival’s program also included special thematic events, such as a chamber concert in honor of Nikolai Miaskovsky’s jubilee and concerts featuring works by Dutch, French, Israeli, English, and other composers, concerts of piano and accordion music, religious choral music by Maksym Berezovsky, Dmytro Bortniansky, Artem Vedel, Mykola Lysenko, Lesia Dychko, and Bohdan Filts, as well as non-religious and jazz compositions. To honor the memory of the Kyiv Music Fest founder Ivan Karabyts (1945-2002), the festival held a performance of some of his works, a book launch of a catalogue of his oeuvre, and a concert featuring the winners of the Ivan Karabyts Ukrainian Piano Music Competition.
This was one of the most notable cultural events in the capital of Ukraine, which introduced audiences to new music from many countries and gave them an opportunity to judge premieres and musicians’ performance levels. The festival is all the more important because it gives audiences the chance to hear old and new music as well as popular and totally unknown works.