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- The Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra is the first Ukrainian orchestra to tour the United States since 2017.
The Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine performs at Eastman Theatre’s Kodak Hall on Jan. 31.
The concert features Ukrainian-American violinist and Eastman School of Music professor Oleh Krysa, as well as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 — which has been heard in the films “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and “The King’s Speech.”
But the work to be performed that perhaps stands out the most is Chamber Symphony No. 3 for Flute and Orchestra, written by living Ukrainian composer Yevhen Stankovych.
The Eastman School is presenting the concert with the support of the Ukrainian Federal Credit Union and RocMaidan, an organizational arm of the Ukrainian Cultural Center designed to educate about current events in Ukraine, advocate for Ukrainians both locally and in Europe, and to collect medical supplies and funds for humanitarian assistance.
“We all feel that this concert is important to showcase Ukrainian cultural and musical assets — musicians, conductors, performers,” said Oleg Lebedko, the chief executive of the Ukrainian Federal Credit Union and a RocMaidan committee member. “It's also important to bring attention to the country of Ukraine and to the fact of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, and to show that our culture has a lot of traditions. And it was suppressed for many years and centuries actually, by our big neighbor.”
Lebedko said the money raised from the concert will be used to get generators to Ukrainians who are without power, heat, and water during the winter due to Russian incursions. In March of last year, a similar concert for Ukraine, featuring Oleh Krysa with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, raised $50,000 for RocMaidan’s efforts in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s history is a complicated one, with numerous occupations by foreign governments — Austria and Poland in the west, and the Soviet Union in the east — that have largely prevented the Ukrainian people from uniting under a shared history, language, and culture.
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- Theodore Kuchar, the Lviv National Philharmonic's principal conductor, will lead the Jan. 31 concert.
The National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine was created in 1991 when the Soviet Union fell. The orchestra later became a source of national pride and a household name internationally through its prodigious number of recordings (more than 60) with the Naxos label. The ensemble was the first Ukrainian orchestra to tour the United States when Kuchar brought them in 2017.
The Lviv Philharmonic is now the second. The tour’s timing during the war is coincidental, as it was planned two years ago, prior to the invasion, Kuchar said.
And though Kuchar is quick to clarify this fact and the tour’s purpose as a way to highlight the history and culture of Ukraine, he acknowledges the benefits of people’s preconceptions about the orchestra’s current performances.
“We're the first entity to come out of Ukraine, representing the country,” Kuchar said. “So you can imagine with the facts, with the climate politically that exists, with the fact that we're the first — it's easy to draw all kinds of associations and fantasies as to what is happening. And I think that's terrific. Because it's all a positive energy and a positive excitement that takes place.”
The Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine performs at Kodak Hall on Jan. 31, at 7:30 p.m., as part of a 30-city tour. WXXI Classical will broadcast the concert live with Fred Child, the host of the popular national radio program “Performance Today.” $10-$30. esm.rochester.edu/theatre.
Daniel J. Kushner is CITY's arts editor. He can be reached at [email protected].