Ukrainian Contemporary Tunes Competition opens with evocative “Forest Song”

Percussionist Sean Statser executed Alla Zahaykevych’s Nord/Ouest Friday night time at the Ukrainian Present-day Music Competition. Image: Joanna Asia Mieleszko

If it hadn’t been for a area Tv reporter interviewing concertgoers in a corner of the foyer, a person could easily have mistaken Friday’s event at Merkin Live performance Hall for just another accumulating of Higher West Siders to listen to some modern-day chamber songs.

But this was not just any contemporary songs pageant. This was the 1st night time of the Ukrainian Contemporary New music Competition, and the terrible news of human suffering in that place weighed on the thoughts, even as one listened to songs celebrating the elegance and mystery of its purely natural entire world.

As opposed to the Fulfilled Opera’s Ukraine advantage live performance Monday, this concert was presented with no fanfare or patriotic demonstrations, only a couple phrases of clarification (if any have been required) why specified artists from the previous nation had been unable to seem as scheduled. (The event’s web site indicated that ticket proceeds and donations will go to humanitarian aid in Ukraine.)

Aptly titled “Forest Music,” the method marshaled electronics and superior instrumental tactics to evoke the “voices” of wind, h2o, trees and creatures. (Saturday’s and Sunday’s plans, titled “In the Field” and “Anthropocene,” will flip the spotlight, respectively, on Ukraine’s historic rural culture and environmental challenges in the modern environment.)

Only the to start with piece, Ivan Nebesnyy’s Air Audio 1 (composed in 2001-2004), referred to as for genuine singers onstage, and even there the 4 associates of the vocal group Ekmeles have been busy most of the time exhaling, whistling, beatboxing, or supplementing percussionist Sean Statser by rubbing sheets of paper and tapping small stones together.

As a fifty percent dozen transient variants unfolded under James Baker’s attentive conducting, four flutists—Kelley Barnet, Laura Cocks, Isabel Lepanto Gleicher, and Alice Teyssier—wove their possess soundscape of hums, hisses, and hoots, and occasionally danced with percussive, shakuhachi-like assault, as if a troupe of merry human beings have been passing by means of this normal scene.

Zoltan Almashi’s resplendently titled An Echo from Hitting the Trunk of a Dry Mountain Spruce in Rycerka Górna Village, composed in 2015, commemorated the composer’s experience with an precise, ancient hollow tree in a meditation for four players on the organic and human situations the tree experienced witnessed.

Pianist Margarita Rovenskaya led off with a driving bass line on her geared up instrument, damped to thump like a tree trunk. Percussionist Statser answered her on tuned wooden blocks. A comfortable adagio adopted, in which violinist Sabina Torosjan and clarinetist Gleb Kanasevich developed from a disembodied excitement to total-throated track as Statser coaxed distant thunder from a huge gong. Immediately after the wooden blocks propelled a Ukrainian hoedown for the comprehensive ensemble, Kanasevich closed the piece with a tender clarinet melody whose Slavic melancholy supplied one particular of the evening’s scarce reminders of existing occasions in Ukraine.

Anastasia Belitska’s 2019 electronic composition Rusalochka—the title is the affectionate kind of Rusalka, the female water spirit of Slavic folklore—involved no performers onstage, but was heard in a mostly-darkened hall (with the enable of Victoria Cheah, who obtained an “electronics by” credit history in the software).

To evoke the spirit of Mermaid Easter, a classic spiritual holiday break, the composer artfully merged archival recordings of songs of the season with electronic appears suggesting moaning winds, the crackle of hearth, a shimmer of stars, a metallic hurdy-gurdy. The extremely processed voices went in and out of unison, a distant ancestral babble, until finally a single, realistic voice uttered a phrase or two, and the piece ended all of a sudden.

As the composer described it in a software observe, the 2012 piece Trees by Ostap Manulyak was a kind of cinematic “pan” from the uncovered roots of a mighty tree to its chook-loaded top rated. It reached this result with a lengthy climb of microtonal cluster chords for its ensemble of flutist Lindsey Eckenroth, clarinetist Kanasevich, violinist Torosjan, and cellist Stella Saliei, with pianist Rovenskaya and percussionist Statser. Amid the birdy slides and chirps, and a rustle of leaves in the piano, beefy digital sounds and really hard, dissonant string chords proposed the tree’s robust construction.

Only one particular product remained after intermission, Alla Zahaykevych’s Nord/Ouest of 2010, a contemplation of the sights and sounds of Ukraine’s northwestern location impressed by the composer’s folklore investigation subject journey in 1986. Friday’s meant performing forces included two voice artists, percussion, and the composer on live electronics, but three performers were being not able to leave Ukraine at this time, and the composer manufactured a new model incorporating their pieces in the digital tracks.

That remaining Statser, the percussionist, on your own on phase, nestled deep in his array of drum kit, suspended cymbals, gongs, blocks, cowbells, bass drum, and so on., interacting for above fifty percent an hour with the electronic sounds, operated offstage by clarinetist Kanasevich (evidently pinch-hitting for the absent composer). In the course of this unpredicted percussion concerto, Statser was a picture of focus as he executed his sophisticated component, manipulating his instruments with fingertips, sticks, mallets, and a cello bow, normally softly, at times loudly. The electronics proposed sounds of wind, dripping water, cicadas. Human appears involved virtuoso turns on a people fiddle and a persistent, reedy voice singing a chant-like phrase.

In this sort of situation, how lengthy is too long?  In Friday’s version, this colorful, multifaceted piece seemed to finish various periods, only to appear again for additional. When does meaningful recapitulation come to be unnecessary repetition?  In this situation, 1 hesitates to choose. Coaching the spotlight so unrelentingly on just one performer appeared to improve the dynamic to one of stamina for participant and listener alike—an unintended consequence of the last-minute revision that enabled the piece to be listened to at all on Friday.

On the other hand, this 7 days of all months, a contact of heroism did not appear to be out of location at the Ukrainian Contemporary Songs Competition.

The Ukrainian Modern day Tunes Competition carries on with programs titled “In the Field” (with functions by Zoltan Almashi, Yevhen Stankovych, Myroslav Skoryk and Julian Kytast ) 8 p.m. Saturday, and “Anthropocene” (is effective by Alexey Shmurak, Roman Grygoriv and Illia Razumeiko) 3 p.m. Sunday at Merkin Live performance Hall. Performs and artists could change due to wartime journey limits.

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