ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Washington Group Cultural Fund launched its 2017-2018 Music Series on September 24 with a concert by Gerdan, an ensemble already known and greatly appreciated by audiences from its earlier performances in the greater Washington capital area.
This time it was an all-Ukrainian program of classical, folk and ethnic jazz/fusion music. And after the loud and emphatic standing ovation at the conclusion of this concert at the historic Lyceum museum in Alexandria, Va., there was no doubt that members of the audience will return to enjoy Gerdan the next time the ensemble performs in this area.
The Cultural Fund’s co-director Laryssa Courtney described this Washington-based ensemble named for a Carpathian mountain necklace in her introductory remarks, noting that a Gerdan performance is always “dazzling.”
The trio – violinist and soprano Solomia Gorokhivska, flutist Andrei Pidkivka and pianist Daniel May – began the first half of the program with six well-known traditional Ukrainian folklore pieces. Gerdan adapted and arranged four of those songs themselves and performed the other two – “Hutsulka Ksenia” and “Shumila Lishchyna” – as arranged by composers Yaroslav Barnych and Mykola Skoryk.
The nine selections following intermission were from a Gerdan project titled “I Zdiysniatsia Sny” (And the Dreams Will Come True). The first two pieces were composed/arranged by Ms. Gorokhivska and the Gerdan ensemble, and the rest were based on arrangements by such well-known composers as Kyrylo Stetsenko, Antonin Dvorak, Vittorio Monti, Aduardo di Capua, George Gershwin.
Most of the pieces were performed by all three members of Gerdan, some came as duets, and a few were solos. Ms. Gorokhivska switched a few times from playing her violin to singing the songs, and Mr. Pidkivka would choose from his large collection of various flutes, including Ukrainian sopilky, the Turkish ney, pan-flutes and others. Mr. May stayed at his piano.
Both Ms. Gorokhivska and Mr. Pidkivka hail from Ukraine, where they earned their university degrees in music and began their performing careers before coming to the United States to advance their careers academically and professionally.
Mr. May, who holds a doctorate degree in music, for more than 20 years has focused his career on composing for feature films, television programs and, most notably, the award-winning IMAX film “Everest.” More recently, he has been devoting some of his composition and piano talent to Gerdan.
The Washington Group Cultural Fund’s 2017-2018 Music Series concert schedule will also feature violinist Bohdana Pivnenko on October 22, followed by cellist Natalia Khoma and pianist Volodymyr Vynnytsky on March 25, and pianist Serhiy Salov on April 22.
The Cultural Fund was established in 1994 as part of The Washington Group, a Ukrainian American professionals’ organization, to help bring Ukrainian arts into the cultural mainstream of the nation’s capital.