ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The renowned Ukrainian American violinist Oleh Krysa returned to the U.S. capital area on May 21, and an enthusiastic audience welcomed him back after his seven-year absence from The Washington Group Cultural Fund music series at the historic Lyceum, in Old Town Alexandria, Va.
Accompanying him was pianist Irina Lupines, his colleague from the Eastman School of Music, where they are teaching the next generations of this world’s aspiring violinists and pianists.
Introducing the artists, the founding director of the TWG Cultural Fund, Laryssa Courtney, asked all in attendance to dedicate that afternoon’s concert “to the memory of a very accomplished and lovely pianist, Tatiana Tchekina,” Mr. Krysa’s wife, who accompanied him at his last TWGCF performance at the Lyceum in 2010, but died three years later in a tragic auto accident in Rochester, N.Y.
“She is missed not only by her family and her friends, but also by her students – she was a professor of the Eastman School – and by the entire music community,” Ms. Courtney said.
The concert began with Mr. Krysa performing Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Ciaccona” from Partita No. 2 in D Minor for solo violin and, joined by Ms. Lupines, Johannes Brahms’ Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3 in D Minor.
After the intermission, Mr. Krysa continued with the first performance in the Washington music venue of Myroslav Skoryk’s Caprice for Solo Violin. Then, once again joined by Ms. Lupines, they continued with Piotr Tchaikovsky’s “Meditation,” Henryk Wieniawski’s “Scherzo-Tarantella,” Claude Debussy’s “Claire de Lune,” and concluded with Maurice Ravel’s “Tzigane.”
Responding to the audience’s standing ovation, the artists returned to the stage with an encore: Olivier Messiaen’s “Praise to the Immortality of Jesus.”
Ms. Courtney, who was instrumental in organizing the Cultural Fund in 1994, 10 years after the establishment of The Washington Group, recalled that Mr. Krysa first came from the Soviet Union on a grand musical tour of the United Sates in 1971. Then, in 1988, when he came back and she hosted him and his family in Washington, he made the announcement that they would remain in the United States and not go back to Moscow.
Since then, he has been concertizing and giving music classes all over the world, including Ukraine, where he is an honored professor at the Lviv Music Academy, a foreign member of the National Academy of Arts of Ukraine – “a recipient of very prestigious awards from the Ukrainian Academy of Arts for his outstanding work in the musical field,” as noted by Ms. Courtney.
In her remarks after intermission, Ms. Courtney focused some more on Ms. Tchekina and her role in the family.
“She was not only a very talented pianist. She was, of course, Oleh’s wife and life-long music partner. But she was a real powerhouse. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for her children, and her entire family,” Ms. Courtney said, noting that their two sons live and work in the field of music and are very successful.
Their older son, Peter, is a violinist with the Seattle and Vancouver Opera House Orchestra. And the younger son, Taras, is the principal conductor of the Las Vegas Symphony and was just named the principal conductor and music director of the Lviv Philharmonic.
“So he will be splitting his time between Las Vegas, where he is also a tenured professor, and Lviv,” she said.
Ms. Lupines has built a diversified career as collaborative pianist, vocal and instrumental coach, and teacher. She has an active performing schedule as a chamber musician and recitalist, and is a frequent performer at the Eastman Summer Concert Series, Eastman at Washington Square, Eastman in Geneva, Valley Manor at the Pops and the Encore Concert Series.
In addition to her professional work at the Eastman School of Music, some of her recent professional engagements have included performances at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, and for the Europafest in Bucharest.
The Washington Group Cultural Fund’s Music Series concerts will resume in the fall.