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On the cover
7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope

28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.


Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.


Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.


Cover Story

The Shining Light of Alex Luna

A new rising star appeared on the Ukrainian show-biz scene recently Alex Luna, the man who sings soprano. His first video was acclaimed by critics and the public with equal amounts of enthusiasm, and he is currently planning to perform before Putin. We caught up with him recently to find out what inspires this young man, and his plans for conquering the world.

Alex Luna first presented himself to the Ukrainian public on 9 November last year when he launched his first video The Moonlight in Arena nightclub. Alex, however, doesnt like the term rising star saying, Ive been in showbiz for a long time now, since I was in my early teens. Mostly Ive performed at corporate parties, and such events are largely governed by business of course, which was a good educational platform for me to learn the ways of the world. Regardless of his time-served status, he piqued everyones curiosity when he launched his video due to his extravagant eyecatching image and the fact that he sings a very sweet countertenor the male equivalent of soprano. As we all know, showbiz rubs shoulders with big business, and on many occasions the business element is far stronger than any artistic elements. So with such a strong image, and such an unusual voice, the first thing I wanted to know was how much of all this was really him, especially the voice. Alex seemed unnerved by the question, but after a glance towards his manager, he relaxed and denied any such allegations. I could not imagine how anyone could perform to someone elses voice. The Russian Duma adopted a law saying any artists who perform using canned music will be put in prison. I wish we had a similar law here in Ukraine. We cant comment on his view of the Russian pop penal system, but there is a ring of truth to his statement, and when one remembers his words at his first press conference when he said, I want to make opera popular with the Ukrainian people, we should maybe give him the benefit of the doubt. The art of opera is, to a large extent, beyond the understanding of the general public, and for it to be reborn it needs an exquisite character. Alex Luna is such a person and with his fashionable style, and feminine good looks, if anyone can re-popularise the art, he can. There is no doubt his first video, directed by Anhel Garcia (who has worked with the likes of Madonna) and including the phenomenal Todes Ballet, was a first class effort. I am very demanding when it comes to everything around me: friends, clothes, style. I think its an important quality for any man, and even more so when it comes to music. The new video, however, due for release towards the end of March, is directed by a Ukrainian filmmaker and wont feature any celebrities except the singer himself. I think the first one went far enough down that road. The singer himself must eventually catch the eye of the viewer, and not to use other stars to get people watching. Having said that, I would quite like to see some top Russian celebrities in my videos, but I know I havent reached that level yet. But I am working on it, Alex explains. His new video tells the story of famous skaters of both modern and Soviet times, with performances from two young and yet unknown ice-dancers. While Alex may be demanding when it comes to those he works with, this does not extend to his audience. I will perform to any audience if it likes me. I dont care whether it is in Zhytomyr or La Scala. This view is refreshing and it shows the young man has an outstanding love for performing and for his audience. At the moment, Alex doesnt really see he has much competition in Ukraine, and he is sorry for the fact. I would like to have more people I felt I was competing with. It would give me the desire to work harder, which in turn would allow me to develop more rapidly. The absence of any real competition can make an artist relaxed and a little lazy.

 Expanding His Repertoire
Alex is currently working on his first album, and when asked if all the songs will be operatic in style, he says he doesnt rule out the inclusion of pop. I dont mind if there are some pop songs on there. We arent that strict with the orientation of the music. I simply perform the songs I love, he says, which is a sensible approach to take when it comes to young, up and coming singers. And if he moves into the pop arena, he will find himself faced with the tough competition he so desperately wants. Before the release of his first video, Alex was known to only a very few people, but now his popularity has rocketed which has left him facing a very tough schedule. People recognise me on the street now, and just about everywhere I go. They stop me and ask me to sign cards and the like. It is very flattering. I like

 He piqued everyones curiosity when he launched his video due to his extravagant eye-catching image and the fact that he sings a very sweet countertenor the male equivalent of soprano

 it, and I dont believe those artists who say it bothers them, he says, expressing a genuine affection for his fans. The next move for Alex is to head east to Volgograd to perform at a special event dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the battle of Stalingrad (the Soviet name for the city). The battle changed the political map of Europe and was a landmark in Soviet history. Ive got a long term relationship with the event, and its a great honour for me to take part in it especially when guests will be coming from all over the world to see it. Russian president Vladimir Putin will also address the audience, and I am really looking forward to singing for him. Ill be there representing the wonderful city of Kyiv, he says, excitedly. After Russia, conquering Europe comes next, Alex declares, proving what an ambitious chap he is. Dont be surprised. Ive had the desire to be a star since I was very young. I was born with it. The one thing noticeable about Alex, is that behind all the image, designer clothes and the rest, there is a regular guy just trying to make his wishes come true. I like bars and discos, but it is rare for me these days to get out with my friends. Usually, I have had such a tiring week that I just stay home at the weekends and catch up on my sleep, he laughs. There is no doubt Alexs style and voice make him stand out from the crowd, but no one can know for sure if the Ukrainian audience will embrace him as completely as he hopes. People here have become accustomed to the norm, and anything that shakes their world, as Alex certainly does, may just be a little too much for them. However, anyone who has the guts to try and raise awareness and popularise opera has our respect!

 Kseniya Karpenko

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Comments (1)
You are not authorized! Only registered and authorized users can add their comments!
Cellador | 21.07.2010 22:40

I found his video by accident, when I was searching for a special video on youtube and I've immediately fallen in love with his extraordinary voice.
I would like to buy his music, CD, but I don't know where I can get it.

So I would be really happy to get a hint.

With best regards from Munich


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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.

    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.


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