Krovytska and Vynnytsky perform at Washington benefit
by Yaro Bihun
Special to The Ukrainian Weekly
WASHINGTON - It was meant to be dessert - the finale to the series of benefit concerts to acquire instruments for the Lviv Conservatory - but it turned out to be a feast in itself.
The fifth and last concert of the series on April 23 featured soprano Oksana Krovytska and pianist Volodymyr Vynnytsky at their finest, performing the works of such prominent European composers as Rossini, Scarlatti, Puccini and Chopin, as well as of such less widely known Ukrainian composers as Liudkevych, Barvinsky, Skoryk, Liatoshynsky and Kolessa, among others.
The concert at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theater brought to a close a season-long experiment by The Washington Group Cultural Fund, which, in cooperation with the Embassy of Ukraine, combined its mission of acquainting the audiences of the greater Washington area with the culture of Ukraine with a response to a need in helping sustain that culture during these hard economic times in Ukraine.
Ms. Krovytska established her credentials at the outset of the program, demonstrating why she was honored recently with the coveted "Diva Award" from the New York City Opera, where she has been performing leading roles since her debut there in 1993. With Mr. Vynnytsky accompanying on the piano, Ms. Krovytska began with an aria from Rossini's "Il pallazo incantato," went on to perform songs and arias by Giacomo Perti, Alessandro Scarlatti, Francesco Cilea and Alfredo Catalani, and closed the first part of the program before intermission with Rusalka's song from Dvorak's "Rusalka" and what many consider her signature piece, "Un bel di," from Puccini's "Madame Butterfly."
Mr. Vynnytsky not only accompanied Ms. Krovytska in the program; he was a partner soloist as well, demonstrating his artistry in Chopin's Fantasy in F Minor, Op. 49, before intermission, and in the "Ukrainian," second half of the concert, in the Prelude in D Flat Major by Lev Revutsky and two contrasting pieces by Myroslav Skoryk, his "Burlesque" and "Melodiya."
After intermission, Ms. Krovytska acquainted the audience with a large selection of songs by late 19th and 20th century Ukrainian composers: Denys Sichynsky, Stanislav Liudkevych, Borys Liatoshynsky, Mykola Kolessa, Ihor Sonevytsky and Vasyl Barvinsky. The latter was singled out as the "featured composer" of the evening - a practice maintained throughout the concert series.
The Washington Post's music critic, Joseph McLellan, who had reviewed previous concerts of the benefit series, once again focused on the Ukrainian composers in the program, whom he called "exemplars of a vital and ancient musical culture that has struggled for centuries to win recognition for its distinctive identity." Their compositions, he added, "demonstrated that they deserve to be better known here."
Although Mr. McLellan did not concentrate on the performers in his brief review, he paid his respect to Ms. Krovytsky and Mr. Vynnytsky, as well as to the program itself: "Not many performers in this country know the Ukrainian repertoire well enough to give such a performance, and the result was fascinating - a glimpse of musical riches hardly suspected by American audiences. The performances were both skilled and fervent, the music - Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian - carefully selected for quality and interest."
An encore presented Ms. Krovytska with an opportunity to return with another beloved piece from her operatic repertoire - Musetta's waltz from Puccini's "La Bohéme."
From the first few phrases of Rossini's aria at the outset of the concert it was obvious that Ms. Krovytska's grand vocal instrument was fashioned for halls larger than Rosslyn's Spectrum Theatre, the venue for the benefit series, and that it certainly was worthy of a larger audience than came that Monday evening. The many empty seats were ever so painfully hard to ignore, neither by the performers, nor by those who came.
Mr. Vynnytsky, whom TWG Cultural Fund Director Laryssa Courtney introduced as almost an "artist in residence" of the benefit series, performed as a soloist or accompanist in four of the five scheduled concerts, which began in October. An unscheduled concert was added to the series, when the Louisiana Swamp Romp Jazz Band agreed to include their own concert at the Lyceum in historic Old Town Alexandria into the benefit effort. The other artists performing in the series were: an ensemble of members of The Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv, pianist Christina Anum-Dorhuso, cellist Natalia Khoma, soprano Anna Bachynska, tenor Roman Tsymbala, and the Lisova Pisnia bandura duo of Alla Kutsevych and Ludmyla Hrabovska.
While the series is concluded, according to Chrystia Sonevytsky, who chaired the benefit concert series project, donations in money and instruments can still be made by calling her at (703) 241-1817 or e-mailing email@example.com.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, May 13, 2001, No. 19, Vol. LXIX
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