Architecture of Voice
AoV was a series of nineteen concerts and three exhibitions set around various locations in Kyiv, studying the relation of vocal gesture, memory, and cityscape. Each performance was held at a different location, the design, history, or function of which was connected to the music being performed: extended vocal techniques next to the skeletons of the paleontological museum, sailing hymns in a swimming pool, Rothko’s Chapel at a stadium made into prisoner-of-war camp during the WWII, etc. Creating a series of surreal audiovisual situations, Ukho sought to balance the complexity of new music with the immediacy of bodily and spatial experience. AoV consisted of three cycles that focused on underappreciated Kyiv landmarks (1), Kyiv stadiums (2), and Kyiv water infrastructure (3) respectively and featured performances of Ars Nova Copenhagen, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, L’Homme Armé, La Dolce Maniera, Phil Minton, Audrey Chen, Ghédalia Tazartès, Tomomi Adachi, Alter Ratio Vocal Ensemble, Nika Kyiv Choir, La Gol Theatre, and others.
Ukho Ensemble Kyiv seasons
2015–2019, Kyiv, in partnership with Plivka Art Center
Ukho Ensemble Kyiv is a group of sixteen Ukrainian musicians and an American concertmaster Rachel Koblyakov playing new music under the baton of Italian conductor Luigi Gaggero. It was co-founded in 2015 by Luigi and Ukho agency with the support Plivka Art Center.
Its foundations were outwardly utopian. It was meant to be a large ensemble of Ukraine’s top soloists, performing contemporary classical music without rehearsal time constraints, complemented by inventive visual interventions. The group was selected upon an open call, in a series of auditions, out of over one hundred fifty applicants from all over the country. In the first several years its every concert was preceded by 60+ hours of rehearsals.
Instead of a widespread structuralist approach to contemporary music, the ensemble privileges a phenomenological one: its interpretations are not based on an abstract idea of the time that needs to be calculated, but rather on the human experience of the empathic encounter between the interpreter, composition, and audience, which brings about the feeling of lived time. This results in what Le Monde described as “eloquent, shimmering” interpretations.
In the seasons of 2015–2016, 2016–2017, 2017–2018, and 2018–2019 the ensemble has presented over thirty concert programs. The readings of the great modern Masters (Messiaen, Grisey, Ligeti, Takemitsu, Xenakis, Kurtág, Silvestrov...) alternated with those of great contemporaries (Ambrosini, Andreyev, Antignani, Gervasoni, Gourzi, Naon, Rathé, Rotaru, Solbiati..). Featured Ukrainian composers included Kolomiiets, Manulyak, Pashynskyi, Zaika, and Zavgorodnii—three of them performing in the ensemble.
Unable to support full seasons in the times of pandemics (2020-2021) and war (2022), in recent years the ensemble has been primarily concentrating on recording its material. Its next live appearance is hosted by InterAct e.V. and Theaterhaus in Stuttgart, in early December 2022.
Pane.Sale.Sabbia by Carmine Emanuele Cella, National Opera of Ukraine
2017, Kyiv, in partnership with Plivka Art Center
In 2016–2018 Ukho produced a series of three pieces for the National Opera of Ukraine, a theater that largely relies on the classic Italian opera in its repertoire. Attempting to show that new music is inherently connected to tradition, the agency has chosen to present contemporary material hailing from Italy. “The Italian trilogy,” featuring Limbus Limbo by Stefano Gervasoni, Pane.Sale.Sabbia by Carmine Emanuele Cella, and Luci mie traditrici by Salvatore Sciarrino, was groundbreaking for Ukraine—these were the first contemporary operas to be staged in the National Opera in decades. All three productions were carried out entirely by Ukho (with the Ukho ensemble performing as the orchestra) and fully sold out.
The second opera of Ukho’s “Italian trilogy” was commissioned by Ukho from Carmine Emanuele Cella. A 70-min electroacoustic piece, it told a macabre story of three Italian partisans executed during WWII, with village children taking it for a holiday parade. The “excellent” (Voce Classico) performance was complemented by stage design by Katya Libkind which employed contemporary art language. Vocal parts were performed by Viktoriia Vitrenko, Edouard Hazebrouck, Matias Bocchio, and Guillaume Delpech. Ukho Ensemble was conducted by Luigi Gaggero.
Subsoil Assets: an exhibition of operas in the pavilion of memories
2021, Kyiv, in partnership with Pavilion of Culture, Ukrainian Cultural Foundation
An interdisciplinary exhibition in a mockup of a coal mine, featuring eleven audiovisual installations based on set design, video, and audio recordings of three operas of Ukho’s “Italian trilogy” (2016–2018). The project sought to explore the symbolic systems of the operas, their music, and the history of their creation without the constraints of the theatrical form. Covering a pavilion of 1200 m2, with five thousand people in attendance, Subsoil Assets also featured four Ukho Ensemble concerts that showcased adjacent music of the operas’ composers and four lectures that elaborated on the features of contemporary opera language.
Composer Master Class
2018, Kyiv, in partnership with Plivka Art Center
A summer school for young composers. Ten emerging composers from Europe and the Americas, selected upon an open call, worked for three months under the supervision of Luis Naon and Stefano Gervasoni—each creating a chamber concerto. After completing the work, they all arrived in Kyiv for ten days of intensive rehearsals with Ukho Ensemble and vis-a-vis sessions with their teachers. Five pieces, selected by the jury, were then performed at a concert by the Ukho Ensemble, with Leonardo Marino’s work awarded a special mention.
Leonardo Marino, L’artificio del fuoco, excerpts:
Stefano Gervasoni, Pas perdu
Stefano Gervasoni’s monographic album, produced by the Ukho agency, was the first of the four existing Ukho Ensemble’s LPs. A 67-minute long record “about wandering, traveling aimlessly in search of dissipating meaning” features three works: Lilolela (1994), Pas perdu (2014), and Dodici sonetti di Camões (2009/2017), a monumental twelve-song cycle of unusual “timbral inventiveness” (Voce Classico) for twenty instruments and bass-baritone, sang Frank Wörner.
The album was released on the Austrian label Winter&Winter to critical acclaim from Diapason, Le Monde, neue muzikzeitung, and Neue Zeitschrift für Musik among others.