Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

Image of Sylvestrov playing piano. Image links to event page.



Film Screening & Discussion. Sylvestrov
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Please join the Ukrainian Film Club of Columbia University for a screening and discussion of the feature documentary Sylvestrov (2020), by director Serhii Bukovsky. Yuri Shevchuk will introduce the film and moderate the post-screening Q&A.

Valentyn Sylvestrov (b. 1937) is the most internationally celebrated living Ukrainian composer. In the 1960s, Valentyn Sylvestrov was a member of the Kyiv Avantgarde group, which began a new era of Ukrainian music history. He was forced out of the Composer’s Union because of “deviation from conventions of socialistic realism,” which was the official esthetic in the Soviet Union. The postmodernism of the 1970s was Sylvestrov’s true passion. He called his style “the meta music.” Now he works in the field of spiritual music: “silent songs”, bagatelles (“musical poems without words”), postludes, and “psalms” with the lyrics by Taras Shevchenko. The documentary consists of three parts.

Part 1. The Virus of Expression. Maestro participates in the studio recording of his choral pieces written to the lyrics of Taras Shevchenko and performed by the National Choir “Dumka” and the Kyiv Municipal Chamber Choir. Sylvestrov also performs his interpretation of the Ukrainian national anthem, inspired by the Revolution of Dignity in 2014.

Part 2. Memory Corner. A conversation between Serhii Bukovsky and Valentyn Sylvestrov in the office of the Dukh & Litera Publishers. The composer talks not only about everyday events but also about eternal topics.

Part 3. Alleluya. The set is St. Kateryna’s Lutheran Church in Kyiv during the rehearsal of a well-known Ukrainian children’s choir “Shchedryk.” Children sing Alleluia by Valentyn Silvestrov. The final scene takes place in Sylvestrov’s apartment. As he bids farewell to the film crew, he turns on the record of a lullaby waltz. “It seems, – says Sylvestrov, – that the Earth keeps spinning to the rhythm of this waltz.

The documentary features some of the best filmmakers Ukraine has today: director Serhii Bukovsky, producer Hennadii Kofman, and director of photography Serhii Mykhalchuk.


YouTube Link