“To present a new cultural diplomacy”: results of the 120th season of the Lviv Philharmonic by Volodymyr Syvokhip

15.07.2023
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The 120th anniversary season was a historic one for the Myroslav Skoryk Lviv National Philharmonic. All its events took place thanks to the heroic protection of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The muses are not silent: the philharmonic hall represents Ukrainian art in the world every day. Also, it remains a place of consolation and inspiration for the further struggle of Lviv residents and guests of the city.

On July 11, the General Director of the Philharmonic held a final conference where he talked about significant collaborations, large-scale foreign tours, social initiatives and a number of important projects of the second war year at the institution. Read the most important below:

We are doing what is now called “being the bearers of the new cultural diplomacy”. We are doing what our predecessors did over 100 years ago when Ukraine was trying to declare its independence. There were people who, on their own or with the support of Ukrainian governments, spoke to the whole world about Ukraine. Among the examples, I will name the famous traveling state chapel of Oleksandr Koshyts, which probably presented Ukraine in such a large volume for the first time. Now, from those distant 20s of the last century, let’s move to December of the 23rd year: this is our new, next concert season. On December 13, we have planned a symphony concert at the Berlin Philharmonic. We will perform in this famous hall on Mykola Leontovych’s birthday. More than 100 years ago, his “Schedryk” was played in the famous Carnegie Hall in New York. This is one of many examples of how cultural diplomacy works in modern realities and how it worked in historical realities.

Lviv National Philharmonic - "To present a new cultural diplomacy": results of the 120th season of the Lviv Philharmonic by Volodymyr Syvokhip

Already from the end of March 2022, we were looking for an opportunity to go abroad and talk about Ukrainian culture. At first, women’s ensembles went with performances – a female string quartet, the “Gloria” choir, and in a few weeks the INSO-Lviv orchestra paved this path for the departure of full symphonic ensembles. It seems that as much as we have traveled in the past year and plan to travel in the future, we have never traveled before, and we are glad that there is an opportunity to represent our state.

From January to March, the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Lviv National Philharmonic performed in the United States. During the tour in America, we played through Yevhen Stankovych’s Third Chamber Symphony, a fragment from the ballets of the composer Anatolii Kos-Anatolskyi. Most recently, during May, we performed Boris Lyatoshynskyi’s Third Symphony practically as a premiere at the Royal Hall in Stockholm, Sweden, before that in Torun, Poland at the “Probaltika” festival, and there are many, many such samples. This trend will only expand in various European countries. Soon we will perform not only in Berlin, but also in Munich, Freiburg and other cities, where we will also play Borys Liatoshynskyi’s “Grazhyna”, his remarkable Third Symphony… We could not even dream of such things a few months or years ago.

In another tour of the symphony orchestra in November in different cities of Germany, one of the main works is the piano concerto of Vasyl Barvinskyi, which is practically unknown abroad. It will be performed by our new soloist of the Philharmonic, as she calls herself, the “girl from the east” Violina Petrychenko. The INSO-Lviv symphony orchestra with the “Dumka” choral band is also preparing traditional tours: Ukrainian music, in particular, Myroslav Skoryk, will also be performed in the best halls of the Netherlands. Among the projects with a chamber orchestra, Dmytro Bortnyanskyi’s concert suite “Alkyd” is an important point.

Lviv National Philharmonic - "To present a new cultural diplomacy": results of the 120th season of the Lviv Philharmonic by Volodymyr Syvokhip

Since 2014, terrible events have opened up another opportunity for us to feel first of all Ukrainians, to feel our own identity and to feel the need to live not by slogans, but by a real professional need to perform, study and popularize Ukrainian. And of course, we have a lot of plans ahead for each of the structural units of the Philharmonic – the orchestra “Virtuosos of Lviv”, the instrumental ensemble “Vysokyi Zamok” or the trio of bandurists “Lvivianky”, and even individual soloists. An important point of our activity is live online broadcasts, which are systematic every week. First of all, they are aimed at spreading Ukrainian music, and this is our baggage (already more than 80 broadcasts), which we can be proud of.

The Philharmonic became a new cultural hub even before the pandemic. I loved meeting listeners at the entrance and getting to know them. Now, after a year and a half of the war, new people are coming to us. We say hello, and I understand that life goes on, Lviv is becoming different. But the main thing is that these people have great cultural requests, they want to look for this harmony… because a long time ago, when I came to the Philharmonic, I understood that it should be an institution where there is love for harmony, where everything begins with trust and ends with harmony. I don’t want to idealize: but it seems to me that we remain so and this is the work of the entire great philharmonic team, which actually puts in a lot of effort every day for this.

Lviv National Philharmonic - "To present a new cultural diplomacy": results of the 120th season of the Lviv Philharmonic by Volodymyr Syvokhip

Since February 25 of last year, the philharmonic hall has turned into a large humanitarian and volunteer center. every day we met our colleagues from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa… And all our cultural initiatives since March 2022 were in support of Ukrainian musicians. Our foyer is open almost 24 hours a day were filled with things of military and medical purpose. Traditionally, since 2014, the team of the INSO-Lviv orchestra and Iolanta Pryshliak has taken care of it. In the future, many humanitarian fairs, auctions, targeted fund-raising campaigns and charity performances were held. Until now, we maintain strong ties with various territorial defense brigades, with various units of the armed forces of Ukraine, and we try to support them quite systematically from action to action.

At the end of the season, we will first of all make a separate collection at this concert and transfer all the proceeds to the purchase of a pickup truck for our armed forces of Ukraine. if you put it all together, it’s millions of hryvnias. Thanks to the heroism and courage of the armed forces of Ukraine, we have the opportunity to go abroad with you, play Ukrainian music, glorify Ukraine, sit in comfortable offices at computers and talk about how well done we are – on the one hand, yes, but most importantly – well done are our soldiers. At each subsequent art event, we will always remember them with gratitude and the fact that they need our help and support.

The number of visiting foreign musicians, of course, has decreased. But there are objective reasons for this: many of our foreign partners, cultural institutions and embassies have clear instructions not to support creative trips of their citizens to the country where the war is going on. Yes, you cannot meet them, you cannot give grants. Now this ice is gradually melting. We are preparing for the Early Music Festival in August, followed by the modern “Contrasts” in September-October, and we see how people take the initiative themselves.

This constant movement of exchange of musicians should be two-way. Of course, someone has to be led almost by the hand from Kraków to Przemyśl, and then explained how to cross the border in Medica on foot with a cello in hand. Someone can get on a bus and stand in line all night at the border. But in fact, none of those who choose this road to come to us regret that they did it. I sincerely thank everyone who came to us – from Poland, Spain or France, from the United States, etc. is a sign of great courage and support for Ukraine.

New events in the 121st season

We search and try to find new things. New people can come to us with new ideas and that’s how I want to mention our new creative projects using the example of new names. Thanks to soloist-harpsichordist Anna Ivanyushenko, we can look at the issues of ancient music and historical performance in a different way, and I am glad that this is happening on the stage of the Lviv Philharmonic. In mid-August, the 20th Jubilee Festival of Early Music will take place in Lviv, where Anna will be one of the promoters. The festival will be dedicated to its founder, Roman Stelmashchuk, and one of the first projects will be a performance by the Gloria chamber choir with an unknown partes concerto by an unknown Ukrainian composer of the 17th century, as well as Missa Paschalis by Martin from Lviv (Martin Leopolita, a composer who worked many centuries ago in Lviv and confirms the existence of ancient music in Lviv).

In August, we are also expecting the implementation of a very interesting initiative by the Academic Symphony Orchestra and the principal conductor Theodore Kuchar. Masterclasses for conducting students of Ukrainian higher education institutions will be held on the basis of the Philharmonic. This is not only a social or professional initiative, it is ultimately a charitable initiative of the Philharmonic itself: the artists of the orchestra to support young aspiring conductors in their desire to acquire their much-needed profession.

Lviv National Philharmonic - "To present a new cultural diplomacy": results of the 120th season of the Lviv Philharmonic by Volodymyr Syvokhip

We are very actively preparing and, together with the commercial director for the development of new music, Bohdan Sehin, we are forming new programs for the “Contrasts” festival. I hope that it will be interesting because new good performers who become soloists of the philharmonic are pouring into it: singer Liliia Nikitchuk, cellist Maksym Rymar, who are also preparing quite conceptual programs for the festival.

As part of the “Contrasts” festival, the closing of the Second Myroslav Skoryk Composer Competition will take place. This means that the future winners are currently writing new instrumental concerts, because the theme of the competition is related to the work of our patron Myroslav Skoryk. At the end of the year, the Wassyl Slipak vocal competition will be held once again. So it’s not just about touring – we plan here and understand that we have a big responsibility. We have a great responsibility. We are trusted and must do everything we can, everything in our power to serve the ideas of national culture.

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