How would you describe your compositional process? Where do you find inspiration to write music?
STANKOVYCH: Personally, the process of writing a musical composition occurs differently every time. There are no standard procedures. It’s a process – from semi-conscious inklings that either develop further or are replaced by the new ones to the concrete perception of sound. The process may happen instantaneously, or it may take a long time; may come easily, or in a very complicated manner. And it is very difficult to explore the process with any great measure of precision, to explain it in detail. Composing is both a spiritual pleasure and a pursuit (sometimes wrought with hardship) of this pleasure. The process may have many aspects to it, all of which need to merge and ultimately end up fixated as musical notation, as a finished result.
Inspiration does not arrive on its own, nor is it pursued, in my opinion. Inspiration either comes or it doesn’t. It’s like a wisp of God’s breeze that blows across and is perceived. Inspiration is a peculiar state of the human soul, which can be felt most immediately through music, bestowed on us by the Creator. It is not accidental that the great Haydn always prayed before writing down his music.
How does your Ukrainian background influence your artistic output?
STANKOVYCH: It is difficult to give a definitive answer to an original question with only two or three sentences. If I may say so, a kind of sound genetics seems to exist, which is a part of the code that makes up each human and each nation. In some sense, folklore traditions attest to that, and not just musical traditions, which were created and kept throughout the preceding centuries.) Professional music is not an exception to this. Neither am I. And one more important caveat: I consider myself to be a Ukrainian composer and long to be deserving of this name. Some of what I’ve said may be felt in Angel’s Touch…
Describe what you hope to achieve through the world premiere of Angel’s Touch… at Carnegie Hall.
STANKOVYCH: Almost every performer and composer on this earth considers it a mark of great honor and personal success to perform or to have one’s works performed at Carnegie Hall, one of the best concert halls in the world. I have this not-so-humble dream and hope – which sometimes are transformed into desires – to have my works performed in the most prestigious hall in the world – Carnegie Hall and then…
Have you worked with Ms. Ivakhiv previously? Tell us about your current collaboration on this premiere.
STANKOVYCH: It was Solomiya Ivakhiv, who initiated the process of composing Angel’s Touch… A very close and productive creative collaboration has existed between us for quite some time now. I consider Solomiya Ivakhiv to be an outstanding musician with a bright future. The basis of creative collaboration is trust. I expect to see good results!
You’ve described the world premiere of Angel’s Touch… as "child-like mysticism: exploring naivety, hope, and inner peace that lead to enlightenment." How does this relate to your Ukrainian heritage?
IVAKHIV: I was born in Lviv, Ukraine and moved to the States at the age of 17 to attend the Curtis Institute of music in Philadelphia. For a good chunk of my childhood (more than a half) I had lived in the Soviet Ukraine that was a part of the Soviet Union. It's hard to believe and comprehend even for myself sometimes that I did live through the horrible communist oppressive times (maybe for not as long as the generation of my parents or grandparents, but still, I experienced the times luckily one can only see in films now).
In the Soviet Union, individuality and independent thinking were constantly suppressed. No one was allowed to travel—even to the neighboring cities. But there was always hope that the Soviet empire will collapse as people longed for freedom and liberty.
Performing Stankovych's work brings memories and aspirations to me when I was little. In his work, I hear the emotions he went through as a child: happy, naive, full of hope. Stankovych is a child of post-war and Soviet occupation of Ukraine. I believe there is other drama and deeper emotions involved.
How does your Ukrainian heritage influence your performance of a work written also by a Ukrainian? How does this lineage shape your musical style?
IVAKHIV: I hear elements of Ukrainian folklore incorporated in the piece such as motives from the ethnic group (“hutzuls”) of Ukrainians living in the Carpathian Mountains.
Have you collaborated with Mr. Stankovych previously? What are some memorable highlights?
IVAKHIV: I had performed Mr. Stankovych's newly written Concerto No. 2 for violin and orchestra in 2007. The work spoke to me with its depth and profound feelings. I'm glad for an opportunity to present another new work by Mr. Stankovych, commissioned by the Ukrainian Institute of America to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Music at the Institute concert series.
What do you hope to achieve through this world premiere on such an historic occasion at this legendary venue?
IVAKHIV: I hope to bring a piece of Ukraine and its culture and history to the heart of New York City (i.e. Carnegie Hall). As I mentioned earlier, the whole work is not just "rosy" and bright. Particularly at the end of the work, the truth and hope for happiness emerge and triumph.
Learn more about this concert here.