On Monday, February 13, Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall hosted The National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. The Orchestra, led by its long-time conductor Volodymyr Sirenko, played Yevhen Stankovych’s Suite from the ballet The Night Before Christmas and Violin Concerto No. 2, as well as Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 “Pathétique”.
After the concert, we talked to Tania Stech, a presenter of the “Eye on Culture” and “Ukraine in the News” shows which appear on Kontakt Ukrainian TV.
Tania Stech: The National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine was extremely professional, they played extremely well. Stankovych’s were very difficult pieces, it was not a traditional classical music that people are used to. As a musician who used to play classical music, I think that the Orchestra handled those pieces very well although they were difficult in terms of being able to handle all the speeds, tempos and changes in syncopation. I don’t know how long they had been practicing, but all the instruments, in Stankovych’s pieces in particular, did an amazing job putting it all together and making it sound cohesive. All the instruments came in time, they played together as a unit. With the different rhythms, which were there, to be able to come in at exactly the same time altogether is quite amazing, I was astonished. Especially, taking into account that they are on a world tour and there are different weather conditions at the different stops, all the different instruments were able to pull out a fantastic performance. And the way they played Tchaikovsky showed that they are at the world level of symphony orchestras because they had a certain soul that I haven’t heard from, say, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. I’ve heard that kind of soul from Joshua Bell, they came close to that feeling of inherent understanding of the music that Joshua Bell has.
New Pathway: This level of performance is all the more amazing considering the drain of musicians from Ukraine that has been going on for 25 years. There are Ukrainian musicians, probably, in most symphony orchestras around the Globe.
Tania Stech: My personal feeling is that it would not be hard to retain a great symphony orchestra in Ukraine because Ukrainians are a very musical nation.
New Pathway: Did you like any particular piece the best?
Tania Stech: I liked Stankovych’s pieces which are a very well composed modern music. I could appreciate the artistry that Stankovych has.
Before the concert, the Toronto-based Ukrainian Art Song Project, featuring Krisztina Szabó, mezzo-soprano; Russell Braun, baritone; and Albert Krywolt, piano, had a pre-concert lobby performance.