During times of conflict and uncertainty, artists often find themselves grappling with the need to make sense of their changing world through their work. Ukrainian composer Alla Zagaykevych is no exception, as she has continued to explore the impact of historical turmoil in her country through her compositions.
“When the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, I thought a lot about the fact that in our modern musical culture we have a lot of famous art – paintings, literature, music created during conflicts, for example, the novels of Kurt Vonnegut, or the music of Arnold Schoenberg, Luigi Nono, Iannis Xenakis,” said Zagaykevych. “Behind this, I see the personal responsibility of these artists. An attempt to make sense of the present.”
From Feb. 8-18, Capital will host the annual NOW Festival. This year’s event will focus on “Art in the Time of Conflict,” with captivating fusion of performances, lectures, and art by guest artists, students, faculty, and staff. The event stands as a testament to the enduring power of artistic expression in times of conflict, mirroring Zagaykevych's belief in the ability of art to provide meaning and context to the present.
“For me, the combination of composition and performance art is natural. I like to be a participant in the preparation of works, participation in joint projects with improvising musicians. In this way, the composer gets a better feel for the nature of music, performance, and instrumentation,” she said. “I think this has always been important for all composers.”
Zagaykevych’s list of works includes symphonic, instrumental and vocal chamber music, electro-acoustic compositions, multi-media installations and performances, chamber opera, and film. The inaugural event for the 2024 NOW Festival is a showing of the documentary “The Living Fire (Жива Ватра),” directed by Ostap Kostyuk with music by Zagaykevych, to be held in Huntington Recital Hall.
“When I work on film, the main thing is the feeling of team or ensemble. I must know and feel the idea of the director, sound engineer and cameraman, feel the meaning of each film fragment, as we feel the phrase in music,” said Zagaykevych. “In this particular film, I myself took part in the recording of the film's music and spent several days in the mountains with the film crew. It gave me the opportunity to feel how the heroes of the film live there.”
When it comes to working with students to nurture the next generation of artists, Zagaykevych is passionate about recognizing and celebrating individuality. During the NOW Festival, Capital students are encouraged to embrace their unique understanding of music to navigate the complexities of the time.
“In the formation of young musicians, especially from other countries, other cultural systems, the most interesting thing is to feel the individuality of each musician, [their] understanding of music. There is no such thing as eternal knowledge about music, or knowledge about how to write music correctly,” she said. “I think it is very important to create your own world, to help young composers create their own individual art.”
New to this year’s NOW Festival is “Play the Gallery,” an opportunity to highlight Capital’s student-artists in a juried exhibition of original creations that could range from poetry and prose readings to dance, acting, musical improvisation, musical composition, and live visual art creation. The event will take place in the Schumacher Gallery the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 14.
Supporters of the 2024 NOW Festival include Capital University, Bexley Community Foundation, the Susie & Charlie Rath Creative Arts Fund in Memory of Leland S. McClelland, and the Johnstone Fund for New Music.
For more information on the Conservatory of Music at Capital, go to https://www.capital.edu/academics/conservatory/.
To learn more about the 2024 NOW MUSIC Festival, go to https://www.capital.edu/student-life/arts- and-culture/annual-events/now-festival/.