Zuk Duo Joins Vesnivka Choir in Upcoming Concert

Sonia Solomon

Toronto area music lovers are in for a treat with Vesnivka Choirs 2001-2002 season finale on April 21, 2002. Musical Director Kvitka Kondracka has chosen works by contemporary Ukrainian composers as the focus of this performance featuring guest piano soloists Luba and Ireneus Zuk. The Toronto Ukrainian Male Chamber Choir will also perform with Vesnivka Choir.

Ireneus Zuk is Professor and Director of the School of Music at Queens University in Kingston, Canada while Luba Zuk is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Music at McGill University in Montreal and at the Ukrainian Free University in Munich. Luba has been invited to participate as a jurist and adjudicator at competitions and festivals in Ukraine over the past few years, experience that has allowed her to meet and work with many composers and musicians. Kvitkas friend and colleague, composer Lesia Dychko, has been invaluable in helping them make new contacts in the Ukrainian musical milieu. Dychko is a member of the executive of the Ukrainian Composers Association and has been very active fostering contemporary music at festivals, competitions and concerts in Ukraine and abroad. In a recent conversation with Kondracka, Dychko reported that 25 concerts featuring works by new composers have been planned this spring in Kyiv alone.

For this spring concert, the Zuk Duo will be performing works composed especially for them. Suite No 1 was written for the Zuk Duo by Zhanna Kolodub in 1992. It consists of contrasting movements based on Ukrainian folk songs and dances. Hennady Lashenkos Idem per Idem was composed in 1992 after the Duos debut appearance in Ukraine. It is based on the melodic and rhythmic elements of Ukrainian folklore from the Hutsul region. They will also perform Halyna Ovcharenkos Hopak and Lesia Dychkos Dramatic Triptych, written in 1993 and revised in 2000. Elements of Ukrainian ritual chants, folk songs and dances serve as the thematic basis for its three contrasting movements.

One of the things that drives Kvitka to search for new music and compositions is that she faces a constant shortage of music written exclusively for womens voices.

Vesnivka Choir will be performing works by Evhen Stankovych, whose Slovo O Polku Ihorevim premiered at the Days of Ukrainian Music in Warsaw in June 2001. Skankovychs Kolo Moyi Khaty Zatsvily Blavaty was first performed by Vesnivka Choir at the International Choral Olympics in Linz, Austia in July 2000. Toronto audiences will be able to hear it at this concert for the first time. Works by Donetsk composers Oleksander Nekrasov and Volodymyr Stetsenko will also be featured.

The newly formed Toronto Ukrainian Mens Chamber Choir will join Vesnivka Choir in three pieces by Viktor Kaminsky, Volodymyr Stetsenko and Istvan Marton respectively. Piano accompaniments were composed by Ukrainian Canadian composers Zenoby Lawryshyn and Larysa Kuzmenko.

This spring concert marks the end of a very busy 2001-2002 season. In November, Vesnivka Choir performed a concert featuring works by Ukrainian Canadian composer Zenoby Lawryshyn. This past January, Vesnivkas annual Christmas concert saw the premiere performance of the Toronto Ukrainian Mens Chamber Choir. This Choir was formed by Kvitka Kondracka to have an ensemble to perform compositions for mixed voices and broaden the range of repertoire available to Vesnivka Choir.

The generous financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Toronto Arts Council and the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko has been invaluable in making these concerts possible.

Kvitka plans to travel to Ukraine later this year and collect more new music. For starters, she has been in touch with Volodymyr Stetsenko in Donetsk. He is delighted that his works are being performed in Canada and has agreed to write more for the Choir.

For more information about Vesnivka Choir, visit www.vesnivka.com.

For concert details, see Community Calendar, page 19.