The National Academic Choral Capella “Dumka” (abbreviation for Ukrainian State Travelling Capella) is the icon and tradition-setter of choral performance in Ukraine today. Founded in 1919 and over the years lead by such outstanding conductors as Nestor Horodovenko, Oleksandr Soroka, Pavlo Muravskyi, Mykhaylo Krechko, “Dumka” established its own choral traditions and performance style.
Since 1984 it has under the able leadership of the outstanding conductor and Shevchenko Prize laureate, academician Yevhen Savchuk.
If one were to describe “Dumka’s” uniqueness – probably the closest fitting description would be “universalism”, which is evident in Mr. Savchuk’s selection of repertoire. First, it is music for chorus a ‘ capella where traditional for Ukrainian choral ensembles arrangements of folk songs coexist in “Dumka” programs and recordings with West-European Renaissance music or 18th cent. Ukrainian spiritual music of M.Dyletskyi, M.Berezovskyi, A.Vedel, D.Bortnianskyi, or 19th cent. M.Lysenko, K.Stetsenko, M.Leontovych as well as Russian romanticists P.Tchaikovskyi, O.Arkhanhelskyi, S.Rachmaninov.
Second, in “Dumka’s” world of music is the vocal-symphonic music. Here, the choir’s universalism is most evident – its repertoire covers the whole spectrum of world chefs d’oeuvre – from Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion and Scriabin’s “Prometheus” to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Missa Solemnis and Penderecki’s “Credo”, to Haydn’s “The Seasons” and Verdi’s “Requiem”, as works by Vivaldi, Mozart, Brahms, Borodin, Mahler, Tanieyev, Stravinsky, Schnitke.
In performing these masterpieces besides a masterful reading, “Dumka” displays its own Ukrainian – Slavic style – filled with softness, beauty, lyricism, glorious vocal tembre, freer tempos and a great dynamic expanse. “Dumka” under Yevhen Savchuk’s direction is often the first, if not the only performer of the many works of Ukrainian contemporary composers. Some of “Dumka’s” premieres included Sylvestrov’s “Diptych” and “Requiem for Laryssa”, Stankovych’s “Babyn Yar”, “Requiem”, “Legend about Prince Ihor’s Campaign”, Laniuk’s “Palimpsests”, and others.
“Dumka” has 28 CD’s to its credit which are available in specialized music stores throughout Europe.
Today, “Dumka” has reached the Olympus, as confirmed by listeners in Italy and Poland, Austria and Switzerland, Germany and Holland, France and the USA, Spain and Canada, Belgium and Great Britain. Having achieved world recognition and unquestionable authority, “Dumka” confirms its unique status with every new concert, with every new recording. “Dumka’s” performance is a celebration of sublime music, a contribution to humanity’s spiritual treasury and a manifestation of Ukraine’s creative genius.
Yuriy Chekan, Doctor of Art