by Oksana Zholkewych
Music educator, Toronto

For the past year, KUMF Gallery visitors have had the opportunity to become acquainted with the work of Maria Dolnycky, founder and artistic director of “Music on Canvas.” Last year at the gallery, Professor Needham offered a series of informative lectures on 19th and 20th century art. Thus, an artistic collaboration was created which led to this unprecedented and highly successful event.

The concert was divided into three distinct sections, each one featuring music reflective of a certain mood exuded by colours. The first, “Evocative Colours,” stirred the soul and touched the imagination with romantic memories. Montreal-born and Vienna-trained pianist Maria Dolnycky performed Gabriel Faure’s Improvisation No. 5 with great sensitivity. She was then joined by duet partner Irina Semenova, an accomplished concert pianist from St. Petersburg, Russia, in two pieces by Claude Debussy, whereby listeners were able to perceive the play between colour, light and tone. Dolnycky went on to perform solo works by Satie, among them the rarely played “Three Distinguished Waltzes of a Jaded Dandy” and “Ragtime” from the ballet “Parade.” It is interesting to note that the aforesaid ballet was a collaborative project of composer Eric Satie, artist Pablo Picasso and writer Jean Cocteau.

In the second part, “Intriguing Colours,” the audience was introduced to the mystery of colours in conjunction with abstract works by composers Robert Starer and Arnold Schoenberg, both born and educated in Vienna and evidently influenced by Kandinsky, who affirmed that colour and sound are mutually influential. At this point, slides were shown of works by Kandinsky and Schoenberg himself; the latter having been both a composer and an artist. Dolnycky then performed Schoenberg’s Six Little Piano Pieces Opus 19, a suite written in the captivating twelve-tone style of musical arrangement which the composer himself co-created.

The third and final part, “Vibrant Colours,” featured dynamic, upbeat duets performed by Dolnycky and Semenova, namely by Ravel, Poulenc, Gershwin, Skoryk and Matton. The true highlight of the evening was the jazz music of Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk. The pianists were able to underscore the humour, light-heartedness and phenomenal rhythmic drive of this composer from Lviv. The performance was at once dramatic and playful, manifesting great temperament as well as a remarkable sense of interaction and precise ensemble work between the two musicians. As the final work on the program, they performed Brazilian Dance, a fiery and dazzling show-stopper by Canadian composer Roger Matton from Quebec.

The concept of directly uniting music and art – a first for this Ukrainian venue – gave everyone present the opportunity to witness first-hand how the two art forms can not only co-exist, but mutually enhance one another, creating a new and unforeseen experience for the viewer and listener alike.

The performers were met with heartfelt and enthusiastic applause from the audience, and an overwhelming number of those present later expressed a strong desire to see more such events in the future.