Pilgrims of the Lviv Early Music Festival: Volodymyr Syvokhip

08.08.2023
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Volodymyr Syvokhip, Director General of the Myroslav Skoryk Lviv National Philharmonic spoke about this year’s concept of the Early Music Festival in Lviv for the Ukrainian magazine “Zbruch”. The twenty-year history of the festival began because of the ideological inspiration of the Festival, musicologist and composer Roman Stelmashchuk. Volodymyr Syvohip, as one of the co-initiators and founders of the Lviv Municipal Chamber Choir “Gloria”, spoke about the main principles and values of the ancient event, about pilgrimage and great tasks that are the basis of the event.

I would like to recall the past long journey, like those endless travellers and wanderers, mentioned in the theme of this year’s Festival, and to look back. 20 years for the festival is quite a period of time. But, from the historical point of view, the Festival is already a result of a pilgrimage that began much earlier and is related to Roman Stelmashchuk and the creation of one collective.

Since our student days, we have done many things together, and this has defined our pilgrimage, our passion for origins and history. In the second year at the music academy, a group of choirmasters united in a small chamber choir “Gloria”, which, perhaps, did not have big tasks, but intuitively had an interest in a completely new in their environment. New as the manner of performance, searching for completely new – unknown – manuscripts, and the interpretation of medieval, baroque, early classical music. And this made Roman a pilgrim.

Lviv National Philharmonic - Pilgrims of the Lviv Early Music Festival: Volodymyr Syvokhip

Volodymyr Syvokhip and Roman Stelmaschuk

The professional who became interested in sacred music, he traveled abroad to gain the necessary experience and eventually created the concept, a view of historical performance and founded the Festival of Early Music in Lviv. Although Roman is no longer with us for the 8th year, his work remains. Among his values are not only the Festival, which is currently continuing, but also the Baroque Chapel of the Mykola Lysenko Lviv National Music Academy, CD recordings of early music, and the presence of you, the listeners who attend our concerts. Thank you for meeting us on this road.

Conceptuality has always been important for our festival movement: each edition has had a clear theme and research focus. Sometimes attention was paid to small individual regions, or, on the contrary, to large epochs. But at the same time, each festival is, on the one hand, a subtle substance, on the other, an extraordinary temptation to go beyond the framework created by these eyes. For example, we performed Dyletskyi’s works alongside Pärt’s music. This year, the Festival offers experiments with electroacoustics in cooperation with the German artist Norbert Rodenkirchen and Ukrainian musicians. We create a musical universe that moves in its own circle, looking for intersections in eras and continents. Roman Stelmashchuk knew how to successfully catch them.

Today, since historically informed performance exists as an academic discipline and research field, and the term is widely known, it can be argued that we have caught up with the times. It seems that we are always catching up, and there is nothing wrong with that because it gives us an opportunity to make sense of the past. There are wonderful enthusiasts who find authentic instruments, engage in historical reconstruction of performance traditions and, of course, combine it with contemporary trends. The Festival’s calling in this is clear: if it didn’t exist, all of it wouldn’t have happened.

For me, pilgrimage is a spiritual, philosophical constant that does not require us to “schedule” the result. Therefore, I suggest to listeners go back in time and have a look at how everything happened. What a rich history of early music the Festival has presented during these 20 years, how the environment has changed — and so have we. Some of the people who sang in the “Gloria” choir since the 1990s, but there are also their children. I hope that in several generations, in years, the Festival with its unique atmosphere will be remembered, and such musical journeys will remain appropriate. And we will definitely meet.

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