25 Years of the Pro Musica Viva Foundation – ZBRUČ


Translation of the text that appeared in the Ukrainian portal ZBRUČ in connection with the 25th anniversary of the Pro Musica Viva Foundation

On July 17, 1998, Roman Rewakowicz and Ewa Samborska established a foundation in Warsaw by notarial deed under the name “Pro Musica Viva,” which is intended by the founders to mean – “to make music live.” The history of the foundation’s establishment is related to the production of a CD of Yuri Laniuk’s music. A sponsor was successfully found, a foundation was needed to accept financial support. The process of registering the foundation took quite a long time, and it was necessary to act quickly. In this situation, the financial support of T.O.N. AGRO S.A. was accepted by the Good Ideas Foundation, and it was the producer of the CD. Here you can hear the result:

The “Pro Musica Viva” Foundation, which was notarized, lived to see court registration. The first and at the same time extremely important action of the newly established organization was the performance of Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Credo” in Lviv on October 12, 1999, with the participation of Polish soloists Bożena Harasimowicz-Hass – soprano, Izabella Klosińska – soprano, Agnieszka Rehlis – mezzo-soprano, Adam Zdunikowski – tenor, Romuald Tesarowicz – bass, as well as the Lviv Boys’ Choir “Dudaryk”, the National Choir of Ukraine “DUMKA” from Kiev and the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra conducted by the composer. This great event took place at the Solomiya Krushelnitskaya Hall of the Lviv Opera Theater as part of the 5th “KONTRASTY” Festival of Contemporary Music. The main sponsor was the Polish Company “KARPATY” from Warsaw. How this concert came about is told in my memoir about Krzysztof Penderecki.

The second half of the 1990s was the time of my intensive cooperation with the Lviv music community in founding and organizing the “KONTRASTY” Festival of Contemporary Music. From my activity, this festival had a wide presentation of Polish music and Polish performers. At that time the question arose in me – what about Ukrainian music in Poland and the answer was one: nothing! Ukrainian music was absent from the Polish cultural space. That’s how the idea of introducing Ukrainian music to the Polish listener arose. In December 1999, the first “Days of Ukrainian Music in Warsaw” took place. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski assumed honorary patronage of the festival, while Krzysztof Penderecki, Ukrainian Ambassador to Poland Dmytro Pavlychko, Mazovian Voivode Antoni Pietkiewicz, Warsaw Mayor Pawel Piskorski, Lviv Mayor Wasyl Kujbida, and MP Miroslaw Czech agreed to participate in the honorary committee. The main sponsor of the first “Days of Ukrainian Music in Warsaw” was the Lviv Coffee Factory “GALCA”, financial support was also given by the City of Warsaw, the Ministry of Culture and Art, the Swiss PRO HELVETIA Foundation and the Batory Foundation. Ukrainian music sounded in one of Warsaw’s best concert halls – the Witold Lutoslawski Concert Studio of the Polish Radio. Three concerts presented different dimensions of Ukrainian music. A chamber concert featuring violinist Volodymyr Duda, cellist Yuriy Laniuk, pianist József Örmény and the Lviv Chamber Choir “Gloria” under the direction of Volodymyr Syvochip presented works by Oleksandr Shchetinsky, Valentin Bibik, Yevhen Stankovych, Myroslav Skoryk, Igor Shcherbakov and Yuriy Laniuk. A choral concert featuring the Lviv Boys’ and Men’s Choir “Dudaryk” under the direction of Mykola Katzal showed a wide panorama of Ukrainian choral music from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The symphonic concert featured the excellent Sinfonia Varsovia orchestra conducted by Volodymyr Sirenko performing Valentin Sylvestrov’s “Metamusic” with József Örmény at the piano and Boris Latoshinsky’s Symphony No. 2. “Ruch Muzyczny” reviewer Adam Suprynowicz began his report this way: “We don’t know much about Ukrainian music – I admit that I myself didn’t know what to expect from the Days of Ukrainian Music (December 6-8). Probably ages of listeners gathered at the Lutoslawski Studio went to these concerts with a similar attitude: curious about the new and somewhat afraid of disappointment.” The review ends with these words:

Undertakings on such a high artistic level as the Days of Ukrainian Music not only inform us about what is happening ‘across the border,’ but also enrich the not-so-rich musical life in Poland. (Adam Suprynowicz, “Ruch Muzyczny” February 6, 2000). Another reviewer wrote of “Metamusica”. Valentina Sylvestrova: “This evocative work, which makes time stand still, deserves the career that Górecki’s Third Symphony had a few years ago. Especially in such an excellent performance by the Sinfonia Varsovia orchestra. It was thanks to its playing under the baton of the extremely talented Ukrainian conductor Volodymyr Sirenko that Wednesday’s concert was one of the most interesting and best performed in Warsaw in the past year. (Bartosz Kaminski, “Gazeta Wyborcza” December 10, 1999).

Such laudable beginnings inspired further activity. In Poland at that time, the system of competitions for grants was crystallizing – the “Pro Musica Viva” Foundation actively applied for support for its ideas. The second Festival “Days of Ukrainian Music in Warsaw” was held in June 2001. This time it was possible to realize only two concerts – a chamber concert and an oratorio concert. The latter, with the participation of the National Choir of Ukraine “DUMKA” and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, presented two major works: “Palimpsests” by Yuriy Laniuk (the second performance after the premiere in Canada) and the world premiere of “Words on the Expedition of Igor, son of Svyatoslav, grandson of Oleh” by Yevhen Stankovych.

My good cooperation with Ukraine in presenting Polish music resulted in a proposal from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Poland to coordinate the 4th Festival of Polish Culture in Ukraine in 2002. The “Pro Musica Viva” Foundation accepted this invitation. As a result, the largest organizational action of the Foundation came out. With the financial support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Poland, the venture united a number of Polish organizations – the Federation of Polish Organizations in Ukraine, the Society of Polish Culture of Lviv Land, the Association of Polish Culture in Kharkiv, the Odessa Branch of the Union of Poles in Ukraine. Also included were a number of state and local government institutions of Ukraine, as well as Polish diplomatic representations. Twenty-nine different cultural events, which included music, theater, film and visual arts, were held in four Ukrainian cities: in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv and Odessa. Invited to participate were in Kiev – the T. Shevchenko National Opera and Ballet Theater, the I. Franko National Drama Theater, the National House of Organ and Chamber Music of Ukraine, the Union of Visual Artists of Ukraine, the Center for Contemporary Art at the Mogilev Academy, and the “Zhovtsein” Cinema; in Lviv – the M. Zankovetska National Ukrainian Drama Theater, the S. S. Krushelnitska State Opera and Ballet Theater. Krushelnitskaya, Lviv Palace of Fine Arts, Lviv House of Organ and Chamber Music, Regional Teachers’ House, Polish People’s Theater, Galician Center for Cinema Art, Lviv “Voskresinnia” Theater, “Dzyga” Gallery, Association of Lovers of Fine Arts “Own Thatch”, Secondary General School No. 10, in Odessa – Odessa Museum of Art, Odessa Young Spectator Theater named after M. Ostrovsky. M. Ostrovsky, Odessa Philharmonic, Wympel Cinema, New Music Association, in Kharkiv – Kharkiv Art Museum, AVEC Gallery, Kharkiv State Drama Theater named after T. Shevchenko, Russia Cinema. The festival was held from October 24 to November 10, 2002. It happened that one day in all four cities the events of the festival took place. This great organizational success of the “Pro Musica Viva” Foundation received a praiseworthy evaluation in the post-inspection letter of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Poland, which stated that the “Pro Musica Viva” Foundation fulfilled the provisions of the agreement by using the funds obtained under the grant as intended.

These described actions determined the specialization of the Foundation – promotion of Polish culture in Ukraine and Ukrainian culture in Poland. The 25th anniversary, which the “Pro Musica Viva” Foundation is celebrating this year, includes dozens of different, primarily musical, undertakings that introduced Ukrainian music to the Polish audience and Polish music to the audience in Ukraine. Focusing the coverage, I will mention the Foundation’s most important action in Poland – the Days of Ukrainian Music in Warsaw. Last year the 8th was held, this year the 9th is planned. Starting in 2019, from the 5th Festival, the “Days” took the form of an annual event thanks to a three-year grant the Foundation received from the City of Warsaw in 2020. This year, the City of Warsaw awarded the Foundation another three-year grant for the Festival – our action will also take place in 2024 and 2025. It is worth mentioning that the 3rd Festival in 2004 and the 4th in 2008 were held in close cooperation with the National Philharmonic thanks to the favor of then director Antoni Wit – one of Poland’s most prominent conductors. The Philharmonic included the Ukrainian repertoire of the Festival in its year-round program book, actively promoting the event with its resources. It seems that so far it has not happened anywhere else in the world that the first musical institution of a country has so hospitably opened its concert halls to Ukrainian music. An important event in the history of the “Days” is the cooperation of the “Pro Musica Viva” Foundation with the Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego and the Most the Most Foundation associated with the Bank. Thanks to the favor of these institutions, last year’s Festival had great momentum with the invitation of the National Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra. In an extension of this cooperation, this year we are preparing the 9th Days of Ukrainian Music in Warsaw, where Olena Ilnytska’s piece “To Victory,” commissioned by the “Pro Musica Viva” Foundation in cooperation with Most the Most Foundation and Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, will be premiered at the final concert on September 10, 2023.

Roman Rewakowicz

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