Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Ukraine: Sacred Choral Concerti - Calgary - September 27th and 29th, 2013

For over 200 years, a veritable musical treasure, composer Artem Vedel's original manuscripts of liturgical and concerti gathered dust in various museums and libraries. Priceless, yet inaccessible, the true value of this musical legacy was hidden from view.  This horrendous silence was exacerbated by intentional destruction, "editorial correction", and "fixing" by "imperial admirers".  Yet in 2000 the first complete published edition of the autograph manuscript appeared directly as a consequence of the Ukrainian Music Society of Alberta and others, edited by Wolodymyr Kolesnyk (formerly the conductor of the Kyiv Opera) preserving the authenticity of the composers' intent.

 Luk'ianovych Vedel' - 1767-1808, was one of Ukraine's most gifted composers privileged to have been able to pursue his musical career in his homeland, unlike many of his peers.  His life coincided with a particularly tragic period in Ukrainian history, the time when Catherine II of Russia destroyed the Hetmanate, the Zaporozhian Sich,  and forced re-enserfment (slavery) of normal people like you and me.  Vedel's life was therefore a never-ending search for truth and justice, which he expressed so eloquently through his captivating contributions to Ukrainian musical culture.

Vedel's style is a synthesis of classic, baroque, and sentimental elements drawn from folk songs, kanti on religious themes, traditional liturgical chant, partesny polyphony, and early classical contemporary practices in Western European music.  One can hear the subtle grace of his contemporaries, Mozart and Haydn, in Vedel's music.  It is organically tied to texts, rhythms, an abundance of melodic invention and sophistication, all requiring considerable vocal skill.   Its artistic merit cannot be denied; the repertoire is innately dramatic, refined, nuanced and expressive.  

Western Canada, it seems, has many admirers of Artem Vedel's works.  Through the forethought of the Ukrainian Millennium Foundation - the group that was formed way back in the 1980's to celebrate the Millennium of Ukrainian Christianity in Edmonton, a special event is in the making. Through their initiative and sponsorship, Calgary's own award winning Spiritus Chamber Choir is blazing a new, visionary path for their first performance of the 2013-14 season.  The ambitious project involves performing several of Artem Vedel's works, in musical juxtaposition with the more recent works of Canadian composer Roman Hurko.

Roman Hurko is a Toronto born (1962) Ukrainian Canadian composer whose works have now been published and recorded to wide international acclaim.  Influenced by his Byzantine Christian ancestry, among Hurko's works are at least three Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrystostom (in English and Ukrainian) and a Panachyda/Requiem for the Victims of Chernobyl (2001), both of which will feature in Calgary's performances at the end of September 2013.  

Spiritus Chamber Choir has had a tremendous artistic trajectory with international recognition and prize winning choral competitions both in France and Canada.  Led by conductor Timothy Shantz, the Calgary ensemble has been winning audiences over for nearly 20 years with a considerable amount of new choral music, commissioned and premiered works, intriguing collaborations, and creative initiatives. Adding to its collection of recordings, Spiritus Chamber Choir's newest ambition to record these and other Ukrainian Sacred Choral Masterpieces is a project which will blossom over the next years.  More news to come on that front!!

Spiritus Chamber Choir's performances of Ukraine: Sacred Choral Concerti is bound to bring great joy and satisfaction to its diverse audience of listeners and admirers.  See you there!

(sponsored by the Ukrainian Millennium Foundation)
Friday, September 27, 2013 at 8pm
St. Stephen Protomartyr Ukrainian Catholic Church
4903-45 St. SW, Calgary
$25 Adults/$20 Students/Seniors
Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 2:30pm
St. Mary’s Cathedral
219 – 18th Ave. SW, Calgary
$25 Adults/$20 Students & Seniors
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