For UConn’s Solomiya Ivakhiv, recording a CD of Ukrainian classical music wasn’t just a professional endeavor, it was personal.
This past July, the Ukrainian-born assistant professor of violin and viola Ivakhiv and her colleague, Juilliard-trained pianist Angelina Gadeliya, began recording pieces by eight Ukrainian composers for a CD titled “Ukraine: Journey to Freedom, A Century of Classical Music for Violin and Piano.” The work chronicles different styles of classical music, such as post-modern and neo-folklorist, from 20th and 21st‑century composers who emerged and thrived professionally, despite the obstacles they faced in Soviet Ukraine.
“As a child, I grew up in the Soviet Union and experienced firsthand what this dark and painful period of world history can mean for artists,” says Ivakhiv. “With this project, we try to expose the personal journey of the featured composers, and offer them the opportunity to ‘speak’ in a way that wasn’t possible for them before.”
Ivakhiv and Gadeliya also hope to expose listeners to the sophisticated musical history from their homeland, and to raise awareness about Ukrainian culture in general. There has been increased recent interest in the region as a result of Russian military intervention in Ukraine, which began in February 2014.
Each of the composers featured on the album, which is largely comprised of previously unrecorded pieces spanning the period 1919-2014, faced many obstacles in order to maintain their personal, artistic voices during times of harsh communist oppression. Forced to compose music that glorified the Soviet government above all, the artists chronicled in Ivakhiv’s recording were denied the freedom to openly express their creative identities, and clashed with government officials as a result.
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“Ukraine: Journey to Freedom” was released internationally last month, and is also available on iTunes and Amazon. Ivakhiv will be performing some of the music from the CD at a solo recital at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on March 21. For more information, go to the Jorgensen website.