Farewell, but not goodbye: Gavrylyuk to conclude visit with solo recital

MATT BURKHARTT Staff Photographer
Subagh Singh Khalsa, Week Two teacher-in-residence with the Mystic Heart Community Meditation Program, leads the first meditation session of the week Monday at the Main Gate Welcome Center.

Tonight will be farewell, but certainly not goodbye.

Alexander Gavrylyuk will share his third and final performance of the season at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater. The solo concert features works by Sergei Prokofiev, Chopin, Mozart and Schubert.

Gavrylyuk has regularly performed at Chautauqua Institution since 2006 — both in solo recitals and alongside the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. In those years, he has immersed himself in the Chautauqua community, teaching master classes at the School of Music and enrolling his eldest daughter in Children’s School. He said he views recitals in the Amp as an evening with friends.

“Solo performance is a very intimate experience,” he said. “It’s very much the pianist serving as the connection point between the mystical and spiritual world of the composer being played, and a direct connection to the audience. When those moments happen, when the connection is there to the audience by the means of finding artistic truth in the piece — those are the most precious moments.”

The performance will be split into two halves, and Gavrylyuk said the program delves into the extremes of emotion. He said the night will feature heavenly and hellish sounds and all those that exist in between.

The evening concludes with a journey to Hell in Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-flat Major. One of the composer’s three “War Sonatas,” the piece’s dissonance captures the dischord felt across Europe at the outset of World War II.

“When you listen to this music and you hear the suffering, the atrocities and the most disgusting and horrible things humans are capable of, followed by the grief and sadness, then followed the glory and truth which always wins in the end, you realize that those subjects are still very real today because terrible wars are still going on,” Gavrylyuk said.

The truth encapsulated in these works stirs feelings and conjure images without words. Piano has brought Gavrylyuk to concert halls across the world, and he said performing in so many different places ultimately teases out the similarities among humans.

“No matter which country I go to, I play the same work by Chopin, and I feel the same reaction in Japan, in America, in China or in the Netherlands,” he said. “That makes me think how music perhaps could be the best diplomatic tool available to us, if used properly.”

Even more, he said, music exists as justification for why these wars must stop.

“The fact that wars are still happening, and they are destroying the beauty we will hear in Chopin’s music — that, to me, is a big concern,” he said.

To say 19th-century composers hold answers to 21st-century problems is a bold statement, which is why Gavrylyuk said that these lessons and these feelings ensure their work a timeless status.

“Classical music is never going to be ‘old stuff,’ ” he said. “Never.”

His certitude is ultimately grounded in a macroscopic view of human nature. People never change, Gavrylyuk said, and neither does their relationship with the music they create.

“Have people begun loving less? Have they been having less romantic experiences? Has nature become less beautiful? Has the world we live in emotionally diminished?” he asked. “I don’t think so.”