Eugene Savchuk is a symbolic figure in the modern Ukrainian music. His invaluable contribution to the national choral art that even today may be called Savchuk’s phenomenon determines his status and place. What is the character, signs and his historical mission?
Unique universality may be deemed the first specific feature of such phenomenon. Repertoire variety of Dumka Capella under the leadership of Savchuk for almost quarter century is indeed worth admiration. It is universal in terms of style, chronology and genre. For example, the first Russian chants (XIV century) sung by Dumka with Eugene Savchuk as its Master are performed together with works of the modern West European composers, namely K.Penderecki from Poland, Carlo Zeme and Clauer from France, Bartolucci and Finzi from Italy. Outstanding vocal and symphonic works of the West European classical music (ranging from Bach to Mahler) are found side by side with a capella compositions of Ukrainian artists (from M.Dyletsky, M.Berezovsky, A.Vedel to E.Stankovych, V.Zubytsky, H.Havrylets and V.Stepurko).
Eugene Savchuk put his hand to the greatest styles, i.e. Middle Ages, Baroque, Classicism, Romanticism and polystylistic XX century that resulted in artistic interpretation of the most illustrative works. Thus, Baroque period is demonstrated by Bach "St. Matthew Passion" and "Magnificat", Handel opera-pastoral "Аcis and Galatea" and Vivaldi "Gloria". Baroque picture created by Savchuk is supported by an accomplished performance of compositions of Mykola Dyletsky – a prominent national musician of XVII century. Vocal and symphonic works of Schubert, Franck, Verdi, Gounod and Mahler represent Romanticism, especially its West European movement. Russian romantic school (S.Rachmaninov, P.Chesnokov, О.Grechaninov, M.Ippolitov-Ivanov) is introduced powerfully. And it is of paramount importance that a strong emphasis is made on works of national romanticists – cantatas, oratorios and a capella choral compositions of M.Lysenko, K.Stetsenko, M.Verykivsky, S.Lyidkevych. Such increased attention to cultural heritage of the national music is another aspect of Savchuk’s phenomenon that is clearly defined and deliberate artistic position, understating of his responsibility for condition and future of the Ukrainian choral art. By the way, such position is strongly supported by public activities of Eugene Savchuk who is the Chairman of the Choral Society of Ukraine, the Secretary of All-Ukrainian Musical Union, the Chairman of Kyiv Region Department of All-Ukrainian Musical Union, initiator of choral competitions named after M.Leontovych and K.Stetsenko.
Eugene Savchuk has interpreted virtually all national choral heritage. In addition to masterpieces of the past and widely recognized national classics, Savchuk performed for the first time numerous compositions of our contemporaries: L.Dychko, L.Hrabovsky, E.Stankovych, V.Sylvestrov, Yu.Laniuk, H.Havrylets who are indebted to the Master for their fortunate artistic destiny. At that, it seems enough to list the names and titles. Let us draw attention to another fact. With all variety of repertoire being both West European and Slavic, sounding of the Capella headed by the Master is well defined and recognizable in terms of the style. At first glance, incompatibles blend and balance here, i.e. in an attempt to reproduce, to the maximum precisely extent, stylistics of a certain period, national school or creative personality it is essential not to lose its own, unique and individual. Means and methods of finding such a balance are unanalysable, each time they are original and unique. However, a receptive listener recognizes from the very start sounding of Dumka that is cultivated with care by Savchuk and is marked with rich timbre palette, cult of plummy and splendid voices and striving for performance here and now closely with a listener. These mentioned distinctions, to my mind, may be considered the second unique and substantial feature of Savchuk’s creative personality. Such attitude to the chorus and choral sounding are rooted to deep layers of the national culture. This intonational result – emotionally open, harmonically rich, full of bright colours and slight half tones, powerful and subtle lyricism – is a manifestation of Slavic way of thinking, more precisely cordocentrical Ukrainian soul. Singing of Savchuk-headed Dumka repeatedly transfer back memory, values and its soul to our people.
Though not only to Ukrainians. Eugene Savchuk and Dumka promote Ukrainian choral art on a worldwide basis. Successful tours abroad (the USA, Canada, Mexico, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Luxembourg), numerous records (works of Savchuk encompass 35 CD with one nominated for a prestigious Grammy Award) contribute strongly to the national culture and at the same time to the common world heritage. This is the mission of the Master.
Yuriy Chekan, Doctor of Art