“You know what kind of feeling I have? As if I’m inside of the song, you understand? “- said one of the main “Lord of the Rings” characters Samwise Gamgee. And, it turns out, he was right in something. After all, the fantasy world, which one day was created by Tolkien, can really turn into music today: the Ukrainian National Academic Orchestra of Folk Instruments (NAOFI) is actively working on the creation of its own story of searches and road – the fantasy show “The Masters of Elements”. However, musicians plan to go not to the Mordor, but to three Ukrainian cities.
The novel of British writer begins in the Shire, where Frodo Baggins inherits that very ring from his uncle Bilbo. Interestingly, both of them know anything about its origin. In the Ukrainian reality everything turned out to be a bit more natural: the project of the musical fantasy show “The Masters of Elements” is gaining the biggest score in the competition by the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation, as a result, musicians receive the long-awaited and necessary funding for their project. So, instead of the Shire, we have Ukraine, Bilbo changes to the UCF, and NAOFI gets a deserved gift instead of Frodo. However, there’s one difference – they know what to do with it. This is how a story of an alternative, Ukrainian and, most importantly, musical fantasy world begins.
Though, there is enough mysticism and magic in real life. The author of the project, musician Oles Zhuravchyk says that the concept of the show came to him… in a dream. And here Tolkien may have been jealous because Frodo and the whole Brotherhood take the backseats – NAOFI bases its show on a rather similar, but different story.
According to legend, thousands of years ago, there was a Circle of Molfars (wizards in Ukrainian folklore – translator’s note). The guardians of four elements, they were thinking how to protect them from the dark powers. They decided to hide the energy of Water, Earth, Fire, and Air in four artifacts. As for the Spirit of Elements, they decided to keep it in four charms. Souls of the elements were encoded in the Music Grains of the Melodies, that way it was handed down from generation to generation. Almost like the ring that Frodo got.
But the main thing isn’t that: the guardians knew that once the Light Era of People-creators will come, these people will bring the new worldview. Playing the music of their hearts on special musical instruments… they will awaken the elements. And, it seems, that this time is not far away.
After waking up, the author of the project noted the idea. In a few days, he agreed on cooperation with the head of the National Orchestra of Folk Instruments Viktor Hutsal. “This program shows how folk instruments can perform in a modern music. Each element is associated with a folk instrument. They are harmonically combined and it influences the music. People used to ignore folk instruments as modern instruments; they thought those were just traditions from the past. However, these instruments have covered a huge distance in their development, now they sound sustainable and exquisite. They can be used for different music styles. Ukrainian folk instruments have lately been used not only by orchestras but by modern bands as well. It enhances their music with special vibes and flair. It is great because listeners understand that it can work and not just lie in museums,” the head and the chief orchestra conductor explains how he turns dreams into magic.
As it should be in every good and respectful fantasy, every element has its master, guardian, and custodian. In musical interpretation, four soloists were selected for this role. Each of them masterfully owns a certain instrument or class. Thus, Petro Skazkiv, who plays cymbals, will rule Earth, violinist Oleksandr Bozhyk will be a guardian of Fire, the lightness and melodiousness of Water will be shown by bandura-player Heorhii Matviiv. The air was taken by the author of the project himself, the very one, who saw the plot in his dream.
However to sleep, to negotiate with other musicians and to announce the project is far from the end. At least, if the authors plan to confirm big and ambitious statements about the upcoming musical fairy show. And they understand this, all of them from the participants of Ukrainian analog of “the Brotherhood of the Ring”, to those, thanks to whom the show becomes complete and, probably, possible.
Preparations for musical fantasy starts early in the morning. The number of days before the premiere is decreasing, and some difficult moments still need to be mastered. The hits of the past decades in seconds turn into folk melodies; Nirvana suddenly begins to sound in the language of violin and kobza, and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” rings among bandura’s strings. Was this very fantasy created by Tolkien? Of course not. But the genre lives only when it is saturated with something new, unusual, paradoxical and fantastic.
NAOFI and Frodo, the Cultural Foundation and Tolkien – all of them are blended into something that at the same time is intriguing and alarming. Something that requires Gollum’s perseverance to find the truth and answer: what will happen if you remove from this show the idea of, perhaps, already annoying Tolkien, if you only leave the idea and the way Ukrainians try to embody it? Not to associate the entire project with experience of classics of the past? There will be the same fantasy. For it, fortunately, has no limits, and it will continue to exist until the masters of the elements will hold back the forces of evil in Odesa, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Kyiv.
By Dmytro Zhuravel
Photo by Ivan Pechenyi