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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.

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Updated: Jun 30, 2020

“The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety” - Felix Mendelssohn

What is music? Since the age of eight, music has been an integral part of my life. During this time, I have increasingly come to the conclusion that music is a universal language with which we are all born and of which we are capable of consistently developing a deeper understanding throughout our lives. Language is communication, and communication can bring unity.

The idea of unity has always been a key motivation for me personally as it gives me hope for freedom of existence in different communities. But what is particularly exciting is the way in which music in particular can encourage unlimited access to the world of cultural heritage and enhance our curiosity as opposed to fostering prejudice.

It is worth emphasising Mendelssohn’s above use of the word ‘variety’. This word makes me think of getting out of your comfort zone, which for most people is not necessarily their idea of fun. How many times have we all disliked and dismissed a painting, exhibition, piece of music, opera, film etc, only for something to later mentally click into place, allowing us to reconsider it with a fresh perspective? Sometimes when you do not understand what you are experiencing at first it does not necessarily mean that you do not like it. The great example is Martin Eden from Jack London’s’ novel whose behaviour to defeat the invincible and conquer the tips of philosophy is striking. It is unlikely that Martin ‘enjoyed’ the moments when what he just read made no sense to him but paradoxically he continued this journey and, in the end, was rewarded. I believe that the main and important tool of his was a sense of pure curiosity to the new and unknown. This principle works everywhere and to embrace new and culturally enriched music is not an exception, in fact it can be a hard task to accept the unusual.

My aim with this project is to become a kind of conduit for the music community, helping us all as musicians to explore new ways of expressing our music to our audiences. Having spent my life moving from one country to another, studying music from completely different perspectives, and learning four languages, I would like to demonstrate the wealth of different musical traditions around the world albeit with a new way of expressing these through a series of musical recitals.

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