Review: Ukrainian Contemporary Music Festival in NYC, planned before Russian invasion

Posted on: March 23, 2022

“The Ukrainian Contemporary Music Festival returned for its third edition this weekend, with a slate of works related to themes of nature and mythology,” write Joshua Barone and Zachary Woolfe in Monday’s (3/21) New York Times. “The event … was planned long before the Russian invasion…. Yet the war loomed over these performances: Some artists couldn’t leave Ukraine, and the concerts were adapted to accommodate their absences…. The festival’s first concert was a travelogue through the trees, fields and mountains of Ukraine…. Anastasia Belitska’s ‘Rusalochka’ (2019), a purely electronic work of distorted found audio from the Chernobyl zone, recounted a traditional Mermaid’s Easter celebration as warped as the ecosystem there… Roman Grygoriv and Illia Razumeiko, the composers who had planned to perform their post-apocalyptic ‘Chornobyldorf Partita’ … could not travel to New York. So they sent a 45-minute film, a selection from a seven-hour performance of ‘Mariupol’ that they streamed on March 16 from Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine, where they are sheltering…. ‘Mariupol’ is written for dulcimer and a microtonally retuned bandura, a lutelike folk instrument…. This was defiant, ritualistic music—aggressive and forlorn, but with poignant warmth from its creation as a duo.”