#186– February 13, 2023
Portraits of Composers, Suite Nr. 1 by Ukrainian composer, conductor, accordionist, and contemporary music advocate Volodymyr Runchak is our Composition of the Week.
Portraits of Composers was first written as a suite for accordion between 1979 and 1988. The band version was finalized in 2018, and premiered on October 1, 2019, at the National Music Academy of Ukraine, by the National Academic Symphony Band of Ukraine, under the composer himself.
The work is dedicated to the general director of the orchestra Oleksandr Pirozhenko, as well as its chief conductor Mykhailo Moroz and the band.
The suite is scored for standard wind band setting, with the addition of piano and synthesizer; and it has a duration of about 20 minutes, and it is structured in 4 movements:
- Bachiana, meditation on a theme of B A C H
- Imitation to Dmitri Shostakovich
- Nicolò Paganini is playing with us in the orchestra.
- Portrait of Igor Stravinsky
Volodymyr Runchak studied accordion at the Music College of Lutsk from 1975 to 1979, later on he has earned degrees in accordion, conducting and composition from the National Music Academy of Ukraine in Kyiv in 1986. He is a member of the National Composers Union of Ukraine, the National All-Ukraine Music Union, EUROPE-EUROPE (Germany) as well as the International Association of Composers, the Ukrainian Chapter of ISCM.
Runchak’s music can be characterized as a combination of emotionality, accurateness of form, depth and spirituality, humor – in essence aiming at newness.
He is a very prolific composer – 4 symphonies, Requiem, 4 chamber symphonies, concertos, as well as non-concertos, countless chamber works, a huge number of choral works, instrumental and vocal solo works. His music has been performed by well-known artists, ensembles and orchestras in almost all European and some Asian countries in numerous festivals and concerts and were published and recorded in Ukraine and abroad.
Runchak is the Artistic Director of the contemporary music series “New Music in Ukraine” which he founded in 1988. Supported by various foreign embassies, this series has been responsible for dozens of contemporary music concerts throughout Ukraine every year, some of them performed by the “New Music in Ukraine” chamber ensemble conducted by him.
Press articles give a full account of Runchak’s commitment to music in general and to contemporary creation in particular.
“Kyiv residents had the good luck to become acquainted with a concert from the “New Music in Ukraine” series in which Volodymyr Runchak proved once more that he is equally at ease with a sheet of music and a pencil in front of him as he is while conducting in front of an orchestra.” (Ukrainian Music Newspaper)
“Volodymyr Runchak found his personal balance between the stylistic and technological limitations and the new freedom. In his works one can hear the courage of the author’s expression which goes far beyond the limit of belonging to any composer’s school. Often, the avant-garde means are the only means for him.” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
“The courageous persistence of the initiator and “motor” of the New Music in Ukraine concert series and an irreplaceable conductor of the chamber orchestra, Volodymyr Runchak evokes surprise and great respect with which this musician composer, conductor, performer and organizer is fighting the public’s disinterest in contemporary academic music of the experimental avant-garde direction. Regard for the conviction of the importance of this matter, for the energy and enthusiasm with which each action is conducted.” (Politics and Culture)
Among his honors are:
- First Prize in the All-Ukrainian Accordion Competition (1984)
- First Prize in the International Composition Competition (Choral Works), Ukraine-USA (1998)
- Prize in the International Composition Competition (Choral Works), Germany (1998)
- Grand Prix in the International Composers Competition (Accordion Works), Poland (2003)
- First Prize in the International Composition Competition (Saxophone Works), Thailand (2006)
- Second Prize in the International Composition Competition (Trumpet Works), USA (2008)
- Grand Prix in the International Composition Competition (Accordion Works), USA (2008)
- High recognition for “Merit to Polish Culture” (2005)
More on Volodymyr Runchak