UConn Faculty Soloists Perform with Ukraine Symphony at Jorgensen

Two musicians perform on flute and violin in front of an outdoor crowd.
Violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv and cellist Sophie Shao performing as a duo in Mariinksy Park Center in Kyiv in July. (Courtesy of Volodymyr Osypenko)

The Jubilee 100th Concert season of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine will have a unique UConn sound for its performance at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 22.

The featured soloists performing with the orchestra will be two of the Department of Music’s world class string musicians — violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv and cellist Sophie Shao — and the program of music will include “American Rhapsody,” a work for violin and orchestra composed by Kenneth Fuchs, professor of music composition, who earlier this year won the 61st Grammy Award for Best Classical Compendium for “Piano Concerto ‘Spiritualist’; Poems of Life; Glacier;’ Rush,” his latest recording with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Ivakhiv and Shao traveled Ukraine, in July to perform with the National Symphony Orchestra on a program that included “American Rhapsody” in a free concert at Mariinsky Park Center in Kyiv, the nation’s capital.

“I fell in love with American Rhapsody a few years ago and had an opportunity to perform it here in Storrs,” says Ivakhiv, who was born in Kyiv. “Then I thought I want people in Ukraine to hear ‘American Rhapsody’ and I reached out to the best orchestra in Ukraine, which is the National Symphony. They got very excited, so we decided to look for other Rhapsody-like pieces. When Professor Shao joined UConn faculty we performed together and I wanted them to hear how wonderful she is.”

The National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine will be under the baton of Volodymyr Sirenko, who has served as conductor of the Orchestra since 2000 and previously led the Symphonic Orchestra at the National Radio Company of Ukraine, where he made more than 200 recordings. The Orchestra is one of the finest ensembles in Europe, which during its history has premiered works by major composers such as Sergi Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich and featured soloists including Artur Rubinstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Issac Stern, Andrea Bocelli and Jose Carreras.

The program will also include Brahms’ “Double Concerto” and Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 6.” The performance begins at 7 p.m. and is preceded by a Concert Talk at 6:15 p.m.

NOTE: Ivakhiv and Shao also will perform on Nov. 21 as soloists with the UConn Symphony Orchestra, led by André Raphel, assistant professor of music and director of Symphony Orchestra, in a program titled “Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven @ 250 on Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. in J. Louis von der Mehden Recital Hall. The program includes Beethoven’s “Coriolan Overture, Op 62” and “Triple Concerto, Op. 56.” Guest pianist will be Melvin Chen.

Fuchs, Ivakhiv and Shao discussed their musical collaboration with UConn 360’s Ken Best.