Lesya Ukrainka wrote the series of poems, Seven Strings, when she was 19. Back then, due to her illness and surgery on her left arm, she had long abandoned her dreams of becoming a pianist and composer. At the age of five, Lesya started playing the piano, as well as corresponding with a relative who subsequently shaped her worldview the most: Mykhailo Drahomanov. She dedicated Seven Strings to the very Uncle Mykhailo, whose anniversary, along with his niece’s one, is being marked this year: Ukrainka’s 150th birthday, and Drahomanov’s 180th birthday.
This work, despite the loss of all her hope for her musical future, is not a sign of farewell to music, but rather evidence of a constant stay in it, just in another form. In these uncertain times, Seven Strings inspires if not optimism, then at least hope for ‘the great new’.
The music program of this year’s Book Arsenal is created by using string instruments. The variety of them is as follows: harp, Kharkiv bandura, violin, viola, cello, double bass, and grand piano (however, the latter formally belongs to percussion instruments). These seven instruments are in tune with the number of poems from Lesya Ukrainka’s series.
Particular attention should be given to the Sixtiers’ little-known works from the recent anthology prepared and published by the Ukrainian Institute, which will be performed in two of the four programs. Indeed, this is all the more reason for optimism.