“History is precisely when it does not stop.”
– Volodymyr Syvokhip
If music could be described in numbers, then we’d like to say that in 2023 the Philharmonic had 720 concerts, thousands of kilometers of touring in European and US cities, numerous collaborations with world-class soloists, Ukrainian and world premieres, ongoing volunteer work, and hundreds of thousands of listeners around the world who discovered Ukrainian music through our YouTube broadcasts. All of this is the result of the coordinated and tireless work of all the Philharmonic’s mechanisms.
Presenting Ukraine on the international stage
That year, the orchestra ended the military year of 2022 and began the new year of 2023 with a tour of Switzerland. Concerts under the direction of the famous Swiss conductor Simon Camartin and the Philharmonic’s general director Volodymyr Syvokhip between Christmas and New Year have already become a tradition. It took place in Dizentis, Faler, Kura, and other cities.
The largest tour of recent decades by the Lviv National Philharmonic Academic Symphony Orchestra in the United States of America, which lasted from January 13 to March 3, was a historic event. The tour took place as part of the “See and Hear Ukraine” art project in cooperation with the Kozytskyi Charitable Foundation “We and the World”.
Among the states where the Ukrainian orchestra has performed are New Jersey, New York, North/South Carolina, and cities such as Miami, Chicago, Cleveland, Rochester, and others. The musicians also presented Ukrainian music at the well-known Long Island University, the University of Illinois, James Madison University, and the University of Georgia. On February 15, the concert was held at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York,
“A great historical event has taken place. It’s been a century since ‘Shchedryk’ was performed at Carnegie Hall, and now the Lviv National Philharmonic, a symphony orchestra from Ukraine, has performed. We saw the warm reception of the audience, its high level. We became participants in a large-scale representation of Ukraine, saw our president addressing the audience, and felt the support of international guests, guests of the world because New York is the center of the world.
We witnessed such lively emotions not only because Ukraine is now the center of attention because of the war and everyone is uniting around us, but also because we, Ukrainians, are the bearers of high culture and a bright national identity, and today it was especially evident. I am proud of the fact that we are Ukrainians, of the way we have shown ourselves today in New York,” said Volodymyr Syvokhyp, Director General of the Lviv National Philharmonic, immediately after the performance.
On December 13, the Academic Symphony Orchestra performed works by Yevhen Stankovych, Antonin Dvořák, Jan Sibelius, and Mykola Leontovych on his birthday in one of the best halls in Europe, the Berlin Philharmonic.
The tour to Poland was a success: joint performances with the Lublin Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra took place on the stages of Lublin and Puliawa, Poland, under the baton of the chief conductor Theodore Kuchar. The program included Gustav Mahler’s First Symphony, Jan Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, and the world premiere of a suite from the folk opera Ferns Bloom by Yevhen Stankovych. The Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Lviv Philharmonic also performed at the large-scale Opening Ceremony of the III European Games 2023. On June 21, the concert took place in the Polish city of Krakow at the Henryk Reimann City Stadium, which can accommodate more than 30 thousand spectators.
On May 9, Europe Day, the Lviv National Symphony Orchestra performed a concert of Ukrainian music in Stockholm. Under the direction of Yaroslav Shemet, the orchestra performed Swedish premieres of music by Lysenko, Skoryk, and Liatoshynskyi. Another concert day featured music by Hanna Havrylets and Bohdana Frolyak performed by the Gloria Chamber Choir. And on the occasion of the opening of the 30th International Festival of Music and Art of the Baltic States “Probaltica”, dedicated to the 550th anniversary of the famous Polish astronomer Copernicus, in early May, the Orchestra performed in Torun. The purpose of the concert was to “celebrate the heroism of the Ukrainian people in the fight against the Russian invasion.”
In May, Hollywood director Pritan Ambrouse collaborated with the Philharmonic to record music for a movie about Ukrainian children during the war. The film’s soundtrack was composed by Andrii Yatskiv, a Grammy Award winner for his score for the TV series Chornobyl, and the composer and director of the High Castle Ensemble of the Philharmonic. The piece was recorded together with the Philharmonic’s Symphony Orchestra and the Trembita Choir.
On June 21, musicians of a string quartet called Vivere – violinists Anna Bura, Dmytro Lysko, violist Ustym Zhuk, and cellist Dmytro Nikolaiev – recorded a CD of Ukrainian classical music in the United States. The recording took place at one of the most prestigious recording studios in the world, Skywalker Sound.
In addition, on November 12, the 19th Days of New Music in Bamberg festival was held in partnership with the Contrasts International Contemporary Music Festival in Germany. The concert was titled “Ukrainian Muses Are Not Silent” and was held as part of the Lviv Philharmonic’s anti-crisis project “Ukraine. Muses Are Not Silent”, which aims to support the professional activities of Ukrainian musicians who remain in the country during the full-scale invasion.
Support for the army and internally displaced persons
March was chosen as the time for the first charity auction in 2023 by the INSO-Lviv Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Lviv National Philharmonic. In early March, the INSO-Lviv Orchestra had already delivered three Mavic drones to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. But the needs remained much greater. That is why the orchestra invited the audience to join in a charity lottery to buy 6 drones for our defenders. The orchestra’s initiative became a tradition and began to be held regularly at the Philharmonic.
“Without drones, we have no information about what is happening on the front line, what is happening next: we cannot observe the movement of equipment, we cannot strike,” explained one of the scouts of the Lviv 80th Brigade. “We were experimenting, organizing fairs, auctions, charity concerts, appealing to our circle of friends on Facebook and Instagram,” said Iolanta Pryshlyak, artistic director of the orchestra.
In the spring, the Lviv National Philharmonic launched a social project, a lecture series called “Recovery: How Classical Music Helps to Overcome Stress”. Lviv pianist and musicologist Martha Kuzii gave a series of lectures on the emotional aspect of music, the nature of creativity, and the path from the intuitive perception of musical works to the conscious experience of non-verbalized emotions. The guests, artists of the Lviv Philharmonic, shared their creative impressions, and the lecture’s co-hosts, psychologists, and professors of the Ukrainian Catholic University, gave professional advice.
Supporting young musicians
February was the month that began preparations for an important initiative for Ukrainian composers: the Second Myroslav Skoryk All-Ukrainian Composition Competition. The winners were announced in September 2023, and on October 1, their works were performed at the prestigious Contrasts International New Music Festival.
Later, the Contrasts festival featured music by young composing students of the Mykola Lysenko Lviv National Music Academy, and in August, a series of master classes for conductors by the chief conductor of the Lviv National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Theodore Kuchar. The winners of the Yevhen Spitzer All-Ukrainian String Competition in memory of Yevhen Spitzer were also allowed to perform as soloists with the Philharmonic’s leading orchestras.
Meanwhile, in December, the Philharmonic partnered with the fourth Wassyl Slipak Young Vocalist Competition. The competition patron was honored on his 49th birthday. The young singers, winners of the Competition, and the participants continue his work with dignity and powerfully represent Ukrainian culture in the world.
This year, the Lviv National Philharmonic has repeatedly supported the projects of the World of Important Initiatives NGO by providing invitations to large-scale symphony concerts for talented pupils and students of Lviv universities.
The year of festivals
The 42nd International Virtuosos Festival took place from May 19 to June 4, 2023. The Festival featured 15 concerts, 4 orchestras and 30 Ukrainian and foreign virtuoso soloists. Classical music was performed for all tastes, and live broadcasts of the events were held for Ukrainian and foreign audiences. Charitable donations from the online broadcasts were used to support musicians who remain in Ukraine.
Three music festivals were held in the Philharmonic in the summer: The VIII International Summertime Festival “Pizzicato e Cantabile”, the X International Festival “Music in Old Lviv”, and the XX Festival of Ancient Music in Lviv. Over 6 concert days, the latter presented 5 exceptional programs of Ukrainian and European medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and early classicist works.
The 29th International Contemporary Music Festival “Contrasts” took place in the fall: From September 29 to October 8, 15 events of the 10-day marathon took place, for which well-known Lviv bands, guests from Kyiv, Poland, and Germany prepared real gems that are rarely performed even on our stages.
In addition, the Philharmonic annually holds the Bach Marathon, the Władysław Lubomirski Festival, and the Bach Contemporary Christmas Festival.
On December 16, the final concert of the first Ukrainian chamber music festival in Cologne, Sounds of Music, which was founded in September by Philharmonic soloist Violina Petrychenko, took place in Germany. The five concerts featured music by Kyrylo Stetsenko, Hryhorii Alchevsky, twentieth-century classics by Yuliy Meytus, Kostyantyn Dankevych, Vasyl Barvinsky, Mykola Lysenko, Myroslav Skoryk, and others. It was performed by leading musicians Liliia Nikitchuk, Natalia Gordieieva, and Maksym Rymar. A musician from Germany, pianist Oliver Drechsel, also joined the concerts. The last concert presented the audience with masterful interpretations of Ukrainian Christmas music performed by Violina Petrychenko.
For the little ones
In 2023, the Philharmonic’s activities did not ignore the youngest audience members. The Family Concerts series continued, and this year it was supplemented by concerts of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Musical Galaxy project. There was also the premiere of the children’s ballet The Adventures of the Girl Vesnianka to the music of Zhanna Kolodub, prepared in collaboration with the L.Stage ballet school and theater, and a large-scale international project, the premiere of the opera for children and adults Family Album by Polish composer Jerzy Kornowicz. Together with the National Ensemble of Soloists “Kyiv Camerata” and the National Philharmonic of Ukraine (Kyiv), the opera was translated and staged, bringing together connoisseurs of contemporary accessible art of different generations.
Philharmonic in web
At the end of the year, the Philharmonic’s YouTube channel reached an impressive milestone – 5 thousand subscribers! The channel was created in 2011, and active content began during the Covid-19 pandemic. At that time, the Philharmonic introduced a successful practice of live broadcasts. Gradually, the frequency and quality of the videos increased, and the number of views of all videos during this time reached 759,839.
The need of the hour is to make concert programs available to the general public. To this end, using the experience of the pandemic (for 2 years the Philharmonic had been broadcasting without an audience or with a limited number of people), in 2022 a series of online concerts and video broadcasts called “Ukraine. Muses are not silent”. After the first successful performances, subsequent concerts were specially created for the Muses project, or vice versa, it was combined with the one planned for the year. To date, more than 130 broadcasts have been held, reaching an audience of about 130-150 thousand listeners from around the world.
Music speaks to each of us in its way – because it is a universal way to feel deeply. Open your heart and cherish the innermost moments of your life spent with your dearest.
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