A peculiar gloom spreads, where first the horns play, and then the brass a contrasting triad, which is repeatedly resolved by three successive notes that do not go together, but are not incompatible with each other either. This whimsical figure roams all instrument clusters while a vast lake of Late Romantic chords unfurl beautifully. Then the disaster crashes, the noise, the blond drummer begins a thunderous speech on her instruments, and louder, louder, loud, frozen horn calls, tormented, a crazy xylophone on which a bright red-haired woman tries all manner of grotesque – Kyiv Symphony Orchestra (KSO) begins its German tour At Kulturplast in Dresden.
What kind of music is this? An apocryphal work by Shostakovich or Stravinsky? One written by Mussorgsky, pushed decades long into the 20th century? Nonsense.
What you hear here and have not heard before is Boris Latushinsky’s Third Symphony (1894 – 1968), composed in 1950/51. At this moment you can’t help but hear all the suffering of Ukraine in this music. Meanwhile, Zhytomyr, the birthplace of the composer, was bombed, he himself struggled with the limitations of Stalinist cultural policy during his life, and now one hears this crack and roar, which again and again destroyed ecstasy, sad and bitter poetry, until Liatushinsky turned things around and thrust into a chorus-like hymn. And he wrote the last sentence: “Peace conquers war.” Judgment had to go, and the word of war was not allowed to appear. No if.
The men of the orchestra were allowed to leave the country. I have to come back on the 5th of May
The Kyiv Symphony Orchestra is not on the run. She’s on tour, crazy as it sounds. He has been in contact with German concert agency KD Schmid for a long time, and a first tour is planned for November of this year. If all goes well, it will. But the musicians did not want to wait that long and called the agency in early April. Organizing a tour through seven German cities in three weeks is sporting even in normal times. It’s crazy under the current circumstances. But it works, musicians are welcomed by the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra in the main building. KSO will then play at the Elbphilharmonie and in Berlin, among other places, where a visit from the Bundestag is also planned.
On April 7, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense granted permission for the men to leave the country. Exempted from the war, they must return by May 5th. They also want. The orchestra itself wrote a text that was not overly sensitive in parts, in which they explained their project. In it, they made it clear that KSO will continue to pay for it from the city of Kyiv, is not in the process of dissolution, and will not play any works by Russian composers for the time being (which was quite normal before the war) “in order to fend off the aggressor, its propaganda and its manipulation. We must show our values European and Ukrainian art to fight Russian aggression with the power of gentle music.” KSO held the first concert with a purely Ukrainian program in January in Kyiv, when it was already conducting “maneuvers” on the border.
The plan may seem naive, but they can’t help it. In the early part of the concert, the power of the music was actually quite nice. There is the first Ukrainian symphony written by Maxim Berezovsky in 1770, who brought back his idea of luminous beauty from his stay in Italy, which sounds like a very elegant Haydn. It follows the only non-Ukrainian piece, “Poème” by Ernst Chausson, because it contains a message of peace and the intention is to give soloist Diana Tishchenko a great performance, which she repeated with Myroslaw Skoryk “Melodie in A Minor”. This piece, which is 40 years old, is known to everyone in Ukraine and is from a propaganda film about protagonists, and it unites the nation that Putin has always claimed does not exist. The piece is pop, farcical, pathetic, but according to KSO Artistic Director Lyubov Morozova, worlds lie beneath the simple melody. In order to understand them, she sang you another song, “Nich yaka misiachna”, which is currently being played in shelters across the country and whose content belongs to Gogol.
When talking to Morozova, one sometimes feels very stupid. A sparkling soul, she has worked at the Goethe-Institut in Ukraine for ten years and knows all about her country and culture. When she says she can’t listen to Russian music at the moment, not even Tchaikovsky or Prokofiev, even though they have Ukrainian roots because all they hear is imperialism, you totally believe her. Her whole body became an ear. Which accurately detects various explosions. She has anger but no warm clothes. She left her village near Kyiv with her two daughters when the first bombs fell.
After contacting the agency, they gathered the musicians scattered around the country in three buses. Not everyone wanted to go, the artistic director’s eldest son is at war, so his father did not want to leave his homeland. No sooner had the Ministry of Defense received their approval than they crossed the border into Poland. 150 people, including family members and children, played in Warsaw and لودód. During a concert, the young daughter would occasionally grab the violinist’s dress. But it wasn’t a happy outing, many in Poland needing psychiatric care. W: Nobody makes money here, neither the agency, nor the orchestra, nor the concert halls, I hope the entrance fee will cover the travel expenses, in Dresden tickets cost 20 euros, refugees are allowed in for free, the hall is full.
Founded 40 years ago, KSO plays light music, after which she had her boss who, in a good post-Soviet way, considered it a self-service shop. Then the management changed and the conductor of the Italian orchestra Luigi Gugliero, a musician well versed in both old and new music, got involved. It was in 2018, when he had already founded a contemporary music ensemble in Kyiv.
Band leader Luigi Gaggero is sweating and working hard, his shirt falling out of his pants and he’s cheerful
How does a musician who teaches in Strasbourg and works internationally come to Ukraine? He was invited years ago to play cimbalom and was “fascinated by the quality of audience listening”. Absolute silence. At KSO he then met musicians who, even after an eight-hour rehearsal, still had questions, wanted to continue practicing, and for whom music was “a matter of life or death”. “People there expect a spiritual message from music. It’s not a luxury for them.” When there is no war, he himself conducts two programs a month – too many for the main conductor. It reminds us a bit of Theodor Krentzis and what he built in Perm. Then Gajiru smiles.
He takes his job very seriously. He, like Morozova, an encyclopedia of history, tells of what Peter the Great (in Ukraine not the great, but only the first) did when he came to Kyiv: he burned libraries. “This war is not new.” It’s also a culture war. For this purpose, Gaggero has built an orchestra with absolutely passionate musicians, who are technically at the absolute highest level and have tremendous sensuality in sound. He can form an entirely disparate Lyatoschynsky symphony in a 40-minute narration, he can combine several single syllables perfectly, he’s sweating, running, and finally his shirt hanging from his pants, he’s cheerful.
Before 1770, only wonderful folk and sacred music existed in Ukraine. The apparition is a dance from the Cossack opera “Taras Bulba” by Mykola Lysenko, which many people seem to be familiar with. Some of the audience shyly applaud, others sing softly. Then the national anthem follows. each position. Many have their hands on their hearts. Anthem becomes a talisman for survival.