Features News Events Interviews Take me out Competitions RSS
On the cover
¹7 (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 EuroMaidan’s three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the country’s 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.


Kyiv Culture

Conductor Hobart Earle

American Takes Odessa Philharmonic International. In his long directorship of the Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra, American conductor Hobart Earle has given a provincial musical ensemble world-class status. He’s proof that you can pull it off – even with no government support, even in a post-Soviet country, even if you’re a foreigner.

Hobart Earle first came to this part of the world in 1990, when he brought a Viennese orchestra that he was conducting to the USSR to play a programme of twentieth century American music.

“One of the cities we performed in was Odessa and I was invited to return to Odessa to conduct the local orchestra,” he tells us. “I thought, ‘why not’ and came back seven months later, and the rest is history.” Seventeen years have passed since then and today the Odessa Philharmonic is a remarkable success story: the only Ukrainian orchestra with not only nationwide but also international status. It’s certainly the best-travelled orchestra in this country, having played all over Europe and North America, as well as elsewhere. What’s the secret of the group’s success?

“If there’s a secret, then it’s best kept as such!” he says. “However, in the performing arts - as in any walk of life - the truth is that many results are possible if you work hard, with unrelenting dedication.”

Hobart Earle was born in Caracas, Venezuela. His father was an insurance agent and his mother the conductor of a church choir. Earle subsequently studied conducting at Vienna’s Academy of Music and clarinet at the Trinity College of Music in London, and graduated from PrincetonUniversity magna cum laude. In the late 1980s he founded the American Music Ensemble Vienna/Ensemble for Viennese Music New York,which performed numerous premieres around the world.

Over these years Earle has brought the Odessa Philharmonic to the world’s best venues, including Carnegie Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Centre, Vienna’s Musikverein and others. It’s possible, however, that the most important work he’s done is to perform in such small Ukrainian towns as Poltava, Zhytomyr, and Mykolaiv – in 15 Ukrainian cities in total, bringing world class-level art music to places where otherwise it might not be heard.

Recently there’s been less travelling.

“Since 1991,” he says, “no other symphony orchestra in Ukraine has traveled as far and wide as we have throughout the country. However, the problem is very simple - most of these trips were in years gone by: in recent years we travel far, far less throughout Ukraine. The reason, I regret, is obvious. Today, it costs far, far more money to move the orchestra around in Ukraine than it used to, and there are fewer people willing to finance this.”

He continues, “If you look east to Russia today, and look at such cultural institutions as the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, they have amazing management, and the kind of support – worldwide – that not many cultural institutions in the ‘West’ could imagine.”

A Question of Money
Why is that? “The main issue, I believe, is one of funding. In Russia during recent years, the level of funding for the arts has simply sky-rocketed. Here in Ukraine, if we’ll experience anything even remotely like the growth in the level of funding for the arts Russia has seen since the year 2000, then all will be well.”

In addition, there have been the usual ups and downs.

“I was given the title ‘Distinguished Artist of Ukraine’ back in 1994, and in 2003 the Russian Cosmonaut Association (in conjunction with leading newspapers in Ukraine) named a star in the Perseus constellation as ‘Hobart Earle.’ But over the years, I have had all sorts of thorns in my side, from many corners of society, most often from the bureaucrats. I guess one could consider that to be normal. But the nice thing is that the general public does seem to have an appreciation for what has been achieved.”

 Support the Youth!
Today the Orchestra is also facing some financial troubles. In particular they’re being asked to pay a whole lot more money to stay in their central Odessa premises.

“Philharmonic Hall is our legal address and our official residence on a daily basis, and has been so for the past 70 years, since 1937. And it should remain this way for the next century, at least.”

Earle has done a lot of travelling as a guest conductor as well; he says conductors are international creatures, and he personally enjoys it. “During recent years I’ve traveled abroad to guest conduct with greater frequency (and with a free conscience, since the Odessa Philharmonic has much more stability now). In particular, I’ve really enjoyed my recent tips to Asia, to various countries, most recently to the Taipei Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan. The Southeast Asian Youth Orchestra in Bangkok is another amazing cultural institution I’m proud to be associated with.” He makes clear, “None of this travel diminishes my relationship to Odessa and the Philharmonic.”

Where does he get his inspiration?

“Sometimes, I must say, I don’t know. I guess the deep conviction that music is important is a guiding force. There is so much rubbish in the world today. We musicians have a unique life, and a unique opportunity.”

Local critics these days say that Earle conducts Slavic music with Slavic soul.

“I grew up with a lot of ‘Slavic’ music, such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, right from my early childhood. But it goes without saying that after eight years spent living in Vienna during the 1980s, today my entire outlook on Slavic music is very different. That’s perfectly natural. And yes, the changes from inside, after 17 years living in a Slavic country, do help one to acquire a totally different feel for the music.”

He’s absorbed a lot of knowledge about Ukrainian music in his years here, too.

“As to Skoryk and Kolessa, I had no idea who they were when I was a child. Today I’m proud to have conducted their music in many different countries.”

At the end I ask Earle about the fate of Ukrainian classic music. “It’s absolutely impossible today to imagine how much has changed since the early 1990s,” he says. “Back then, nobody - and I mean, nobody - could have imagined what life would be like here today. In 2001, during my tenth anniversary season, we printed a ‘then and now’ list of changes from 1991 to 2001, and the list was astounding. However, far too many things still remain unchanged. The sad thing about music education here in Ukraine (the same goes for Russia) is that there is virtually no tradition of youth orchestras. The entire system is focused on training soloists. I think this is an error, because not everybody can become a soloist. Today there’s no doubt whatsoever that the long-term future of classical music in Venezuela is secured for decades, due to this amazing system of youth orchestras. The future of classical music in Ukraine rests entirely on today’s youth. The more young people are attracted to classical music, the better. Asia and Latin America are giving the entire world – including us, here, too – an amazing example to follow.”

Kateryna Kyselyova

Go back

Comments (0)
You are not authorized! Only registered and authorized users can add their comments!

Print Print   Send Send    In favorites In favorites

Read also:
  • Pulling Strings
  • Kyiv’s “New Normal”
  • For Richer or Poorer The Struggle of Ukraine’s Young Couples
  • Me and My Shadow
  • Start Me Up

    Global news 
  • Events Calendar
    «« November 2018 »»
    Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
       1 2 3 4
    5 6 7 8 9 10 11
    12 13 14 15 16 17 18
    19 20 21 22 23 24 25
    26 27 28 29 30

    Remember me
    Forgot your password?

    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didn’t 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 don’t 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 – children’s 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. What’s On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.


    Essential Kyiv listings
    Car Rental
    Bars & Pubs
    Catering Services
    Courier Services
    Foreign Banks
    Hotel Service
    Internet Cafes
    Lost & Found
    Medical Care
    Language Courses
    Souvenir Shops
    Travel Agencies
    Real Estate
    Cable & Satellite TV
    Fitness Centers
    Flowers and Gifts delivery
    Food Delivery
    Freight Forwarders
    Internet providers
    Translation Services
    Veterinarian Clinics
    Beauty Salons
    Whatson Birdies Party

    Useful Links