The Ukrainian Art Song Project (UASP) is a ground-breaking project that aims to record a comprehensive anthology of Ukrainian art songs for distribution to the music world. Pavlo Hunka, the world famous bass-baritone and artistic director of the UASP, embarked on the project in 2004 in the hopes that the recording of the complete art songs of Ukraine’s 25 most eminent composers, would bring Ukraine’s rich heritage to the fore.
In 2004, Hunka’s operatic career brought him to the Canadian Opera Company, directed by Richard Bradshaw, to perform in the title role of Falstaff. Hunka’s wife, Larysa, noticed that many in the Toronto audience were speaking Ukrainian. The Hunkas became acquainted with members of the community and quickly engaged a core committee of dedicated supporters to support his life-long passion of finding and recording Ukrainian art songs.
The initial project was the recording of the 42 art songs of Kyrylo Stetsenko which was completed in 2008. This was followed by the recording of Yakiv Stepovyi’s 55 art songs in the summer of 2009 and of Mykola Lysenko’s 124 art songs in 2010. Galician art songs by 4 composers, including Stefania Turkevich, the first female composer, were recorded in 2012 and will be launched in 2014. The art songs are now also available on iTunes.
The goal is to record over 1,000 Ukrainian art songs with a translation of all songs into English, French and German. The musical scores are published on the Ukrainian Art Song Project website (uasp.ca) and are available for download as PDFs or in Sibelius. The scores are available in Cyrillic text and also are transliterated into English text, and can be transposed into any key. They are available internationally and free of charge.
The UASP exists under the auspices of the Canadian Ukrainian Opera Association (a registered charitable foundation), which has lent its full support to this endeavour. In addition to the goals and activities mentioned above, equally important is presenting art songs on the stages of the world and introducing them to the students at conservatories and faculties of music internationally. These classical songs, many of which were composed and then left until they were researched and found by Hunka, offer an undiscovered treasure trove of classical music.
For Hunka, the best part of the project is the discovery and preparation of the songs. “Through (the art songs), I acquaint myself still further with the spirit of the composer. I inevitably gain a deeper understanding of what being Ukrainian really means; this wonderful music gives me cause for great pride, which I try to pass on to all who love classical music. It’s delightful to witness the enthusiasm and appreciation for our music by other great singers. They hold our music in high esteem. It is quite simply ‘great music’.”
For more information, to view or download the scores and to purchase CDs, visit the UASP website www. uasp.ca
This blog by Pavlo Hunka will inform friends and followers about recent events and progress in his career and with the UASP