The 25th anniversary of the Pro Musica Viva Foundation – Ruch Muzyczny


Text about the 25th Anniversary of the Pro Musica Viva Foundation was published in Ruch Muzyczny.

Many musical institutions of the West remembered Ukrainian music only after the Russian invasion of our eastern neighbor began. Meanwhile, it is worth noting that the Warsaw-based “Pro Musica Viva” Foundation, which promotes Ukrainian creativity, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

According to Roman Rewakowicz, co-founder (with Ewa Samborska) of the “Pro Musica Viva” Foundation, the organization was established back in 1998. “The first and at the same time extremely important action […] was the performance of Krzysztof Penderecki’s Credo in Lviv on October 12, 1999, with the participation of Polish soloists and the Lviv Boys’ Choir “Dudaryk,” the National Choir of Ukraine “DUMKA” from Kiev and the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra conducted by the composer. Krzysztof Penderecki’s arrival in Kiev generated great media interest. The composer gave numerous interviews in which he emphasized his connection to Ukraine, saying: “My father was born in the village of Tenetnyki near Rohatyn,” Rewakowicz recalled.

Rewakowicz’s activities at first focused on presenting Polish music and Polish performers to our neighbors. However, he soon realized that Ukrainian music was absent from the Polish cultural space. He decided to do something about it – in December 1999 the first Days of Ukrainian Music were held in Warsaw.

Ukrainian music sounded in one of Warsaw’s best concert halls – the Witold Lutoslawski Concert Studio of the Polish Radio, he writes. – Rewakowicz writes. “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.” – the conductor adds.

Adam Suprynowicz wrote about the event in our pages, “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. Probably many of the listeners gathered at the Lutoslawski Studio went to these concerts with a similar attitude: curious about the new and somewhat fearful of disappointment.” The disappointment, however, was not: “Undertakings at 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” (“Ruch Muzyczny,” 6.02.2000).

Rewakowicz has not given up on presenting Polish music in Ukraine. The Foundation coordinated the 4th Festival of Polish Culture in Ukraine in 2002 at the invitation of the Polish Ministry of Culture. “Twenty-nine different cultural events that included music, theater, film and visual arts were held in four Ukrainian cities: in Kiev, Lviv, Kharkiv and Odessa. These described actions marked the Foundation’s specialization – the promotion of Polish culture in Ukraine and Ukrainian culture in Poland,” – Rewakowicz writes.

The director recalls that the third and fourth editions of “Days” were held in cooperation with the National Philharmonic thanks to the favor of its then director Antoni Wit. The Philharmonic included the Ukrainian repertoire of the Festival in its year-long program book. “It seems that so far it has not happened in the world that the first musical institution of a country has so hospitably opened its concert halls to Ukrainian music,” he said.

The eighth “Days” last year, as Filip Lech noted in our pages, was another Festival “accompanied by Russian rockets, but by February 2022 we were deaf to them.” Our reviewer emphasized that “The concerts were held in an atmosphere of special festivity – joy in celebration of Ukrainian music, hope, bitterness and melancholy. Almost all of the composers whose works we listened to – with the exception of Valentin Sylvester and Yuriy Laniuk – were in Warsaw. […] The program could be read as a parallel of modern man’s temporal horizons, our paradoxical perception of the world. On the one hand, we dissolve in history. Like never before, we feel a connection to what has gone before. On the other – we are deeply anchored in the 20th century and its tendencies to destroy order; the desire to repeat avant-garde gestures has become strangely conservative,” Filip Lech concluded.

Another edition is planned for this year, the program for which can be found on the Foundation’s website. The event, thanks to support from the Warsaw city government and other partners, will have an annual rhythm – city funding is assured until 2025.

Ruch Muzyczny

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