In 2014, I moved to the United Kingdom to start my Bachelors Degree in Music at the Royal Academy of Music with a focus on voice. I will always remember being told in our professional development sessions and lectures that not everybody will become a soloist, in fact, this is most likely to be the exception rather than the rule so it is always important to consider other career options. Of course, being determined to get my place in the sun, I did not pay much attention, convinced that I would pursue the route of undergraduate to postgraduate to an opera studio to a contract with a theatre. But now as I find myself approaching the end of my postgraduate degree in summer 2020, I realise that crossing over into professional life will not be so straightforward.
Moreover, this is a transition currently exacerbated by the global pandemic which has led to the likelihood of little or no live music performance until spring 2021 at the earliest. So whilst I will continue to pursue my longterm aim of a career in opera, I am aware that my life in music does not have to be - indeed must not be - confined to a specific path.
One thing that has become clear to me over time is how, in the sphere of classical music, musicians from all over the world have adopted a tradition from European music largely composed by white males, and that musicians have frequently become somewhat disconnected from their own musical roots. It seems ironic that, as a Ukrainian, I might spend my life performing opera without ever using the skills I have developed in order to perform the beautiful music of my own country, or indeed from other parts of the world.
Why might it be important and useful to familiarise oneself with a broader range of musical traditions that lie outside of the standard European canon?
One reason is because, with time and a deeper engagement with musical genres from outside of that mainstream tradition, it is also possible for artists (and audiences) to expand their own sound worlds, thereby developing a new appreciation of colours, flexibility, freedom and an appreciation of diverse musical interpretations.
Ultimately, I am a believer in the power of curiosity and flexibility. I would like to organise this festival not only as a way to present new music but also to give musicians from all backgrounds a chance to discover, to learn, and to challenge their musical status quo, thereby allowing them to enrich their own personal musical styles and sound worlds.