Homage to Ukraine

Karen Bentley Pollick & Ludmila Yurina

THU SEP 29, 7:30PM PDT

Karen Bentley Pollick and Ludmila Yurina perform a variety of Ukrainian music for violin & piano plus their own recent compositions for violin & electronics.

Ukrainian composer/pianist Ludmila Yurina arrived in Palo Alto in mid March 2022 from Kyiv, where she met Karen Bentley Pollick in June 2018. Their first collaboration features two new works for solo violin composed by Ludmila in Palo Alto and at the studio of Stanford University's CCRMA. DUMA is dedicated to the Ukrainian defenders. "Distant Lands" is for violin & electronics, with sounds recorded in the wagon of the Lviv-Warsaw refugee train, and prayers for the children of Ukraine.

Karen Bentley Pollick spent most of the pandemic in San Pancho, Nayarit where she experimented with vocal sounds and mermaid songs in her pool to depict the angst of the animals responding to the daily rockets during a 10 day celebration of Patron Saint Francis. Live violin and choreography will enhance the visceral experience alongside an ethereal video by Stuart Diamond. Her solo violin piece GEMINI FUNK is a virtuosic set of variations derived from a musical cryptogram of her mother's name NAN BENTLEY.

The program features duos for violin & piano by Ukrainian composers Mykola Kolessa, Valentin Silvestrov, Virko Baley and Myroslav Skoryk, with the Georgian composer Giya Kancheli contributing the final lighthearted notes in solidarity with Ukraine.


Ludmila Yurina (b. 16 January 1962 Uzyn, UA)

    DUMA (2022)
     for solo violin

    Distand Lands (2022)
     for violin & electronics

Karen Bentley Pollick (b. 28 September 1963 Redwood City, CA)

   Paean to St. Francis (2020)
    for violin, voice & electronics
    video by Stuart Diamond
       In memoriam: Samuel Bayne Bentley

   Gemini Funk (2021)
     for solo violin
       In memoriam: Nan Breiseth Bentley

Mykola Kolessa (6 December 1903 Sambir, UA – 8 June 2006 Lviv, UA)

   Three Kolomykas (1958)
     for violin & piano
        I Allegro commodo
        II Andante cantabile
        III Allegro grazioso, poco rubato

Valentin Silvestrov (b. 30 September 1937 Kyiv, UA)

   October 25, 1893 ...... in memory of P.I.Ch. (2004)
     for violin & piano
       III Serenade

Virko Baley (b. 21 October 1938 Radekhiv, UA)

   Intrada from Partita #3 (1999)
     for solo violin

    Song Without Words #7 Der Abschied (2003)
     for violin & piano
        In memoriam: Valentin Bibik

Myroslav Skoryk (13 July 1938 Lwow, UA – 1 June 2020 Kyiv, UA)

   Melody (1981)
     for violin & piano
       from the music to the film The High Pass

Giya Kancheli (10 August 1935 Tbilisi, UA – 2 October 2019 Tbilisi)

   Rag-Gidon-Time (1995)
     for violin & piano


Ludmila Yurina

DUMA is one of the genres of Ukrainian folklore, a purely Ukrainian recitative folk and heroic epic, which was performed by traveling singer-musicians - kobzars, bandurists, lyre players in Central and Left Bank Ukraine. Later, this term began to define the genre of an epic poetic work, an epic song of a heroic plan. Fables and plots of thoughts, as a rule, are connected with the historical past of the people. DUMA (2022) for solo violin is written using narrative-recitative motifs and intonations close to original Ukrainian dumas. The construction of explosive climaxes makes it more emotional, designed to excite the listener, to touch the thinnest strings of the soul. Taking into account that I am writing a piece for solo violin for a modern performer and audience, I wrote this duma to be more expressive and dramatic. DUMA is dedicated to the defenders of Azov and all defenders of Ukraine, living and those who have left.

Distant Lands was written at the CCRMA studio inspired by the vision of refugees from Ukraine to Europe and other countries. The imagery of the piece draws pictures of the chimeric lands of the distant homeland and the internal state of the people leaving it. The acoustic part and electronics do not contrast and do not conflict, creating a general picture of the various stages of a person’s inner experiences. Distant Lands uses the original audio track recorded on the Lviv-Kyiv refugee train. The piece is dedicated to Karen Bentley Pollick.

Karen Bentley Pollick

Paean to St. Francis is an early morning vocal tribute to St. Francis of Assisi recorded al fresco in a pool in San Pancho, Nayarit on October 4, 2020 after 10 days of celebratory fireworks and rockets honoring Patron Saint Francis. Dedicated to all sentient beings great and small, crawling, flying, walking, and swimming who were traumatized by the annual festivities. The mermaid song with reverb in a cave forms the basis of Paean to St. Francis, over which electronics by Stuart Diamond performed on his Electronic Wind Synthesizer in his Manhattan apartment were added to create an evocative C minor mood. Live violin and video of rising and setting planets complete the multi dimensional tapestry.

Gemini Funk was composed in San Pancho, Nayarit in 2021 and premiered on September 5, 2021 at the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, one block away from our longtime family home on Cowper Street. The melody and bass line comprise a musical cryptogram derived from my beloved mother’s name NAN BENTLEY. The solo violin composition channels Nan’s creative, curious and funky spirit through a variety of idiomatic virtuoso techniques including double stops, wide dynamic and pitch range, arpeggiation, left hand pizzicato, Paganiniesque double stop trills, sul ponticello, sul tasto, chopping & comping bow strokes forged with rhythmic verve and contemporary rock/pop influences.

Mykola Kolessa

Kolomyka is a special  genre, one  of  the  frontier of  Ukrainian  folklore. Kolomyka`s  form occurs in almost all Slavs. It spread throughout the Slavic region from its exclusive concentration –from the Hutsul region.

Three Kolomykas of M.Kolessa encompass the best features of his individual style: laconic aphorism, vividness of images, colorfulness, and at the same time rationality of construction, and accuracy of use of every expressive device.

Kolomyki have a number of characteristic features - rhythmic (syncopated accents), modal (Hutsul mode), and melodic turns. First kolomyka has a number of characteristic features - rhythmic (syncopated accents﴿, modal (Hutsul mode), and melodic turns. The principle of variant deployment, micro-changes of the main motive, dynamic growth underlie the development of the three-part reprise form. Second kolomyka approaches the scherzo genre model, due to its whimsy and the unexpected juxtaposition of two vividly contrasting images: the first is contemplative and dramatic, the second is dancing, humorous. Third kolomyka is the most expressive and the most elaborate. The first dance-active motif can be interpreted as a certain variant of the two previous stanzas. In general, the work is perceived as very modern, which is caused by numerous non-chord sounds, delays in different voices, which are solved alternately, so the main functions of tonality do not sound straight, but somewhat veiled.

Valentin Silvestrov

October 25, 1893 (old style) was the day P.I.Tchaikovsky died. Composer Valentin Silvestrov has written a cycle titled October 25, 1893 in memoriam of  P.I.Tchaikovsky. The cycle belongs to the post-romantic period of Silvestrov‘s activity . Unlike the first – serial, dodecaphonic – there appears more simplicity, lyricism, deep philosophy, meditativeness. The cycle consists of three pieces for violin and piano; Prelude ( “The Birth of Melody”), Lullaby and Serenade – which fully reflect Silvestrov`s famous words: “ My music is a reflection, an echo of what doesn`t exist anymore.”

“This work could well be called (in analogy to Bach’s ‘Art of Fugue’) ‘Art of Melody’ if there were a didactic mission. But here is no ‘art’ whatsoever, only melodies flashing moments, captured, frozen in time, songs without words which may be lost or forgotten.” (V. Silvestrov)

Virko Baley

Partita No. 3 is a five-movement work that is an expression and testimony of certain styles and forms (often related to dance); each movement strives for one general affect only (with a minimum of detours), and its style is the determining formal element. As in Partita No. 2 for bassoon and piano, this work is a result of stylistic gene splicing, full of loaned phrases; the result is a sound compost that, nevertheless, uses a very consistent language and lexicon: a structured set of scales (modes), intervallic relationships and rhythmic patterns.

Another element is its Ukrainianism - often covert, hiding and ready to ambush at any moment, finally coming out of the closet in the 5th movement. This Ukrainianism has been with me consistently since 1988, and I’m still not always able to shake if off.

All my Partitas have a hidden text. Yet, there is no attempt in Partita No. 3 to illustrate a story or any aspect of a story. Rather, as in Partita No. 2 and Dreamtime, there are singular elements, short phrases, sometimes images that struck me as very potent, and they became the stimuli for musical elaboration independent from the source. In other words, it is not a programmatic piece. It is a series of meditations and commentaries on key images that lingered in the mind long after the details of the story became blurred. In short, I wanted to write a piece that was essentially joyful and witty, fun to perform and listen to.

Intrada is a rhetorical monologue for violin alone. It divides into two parts: fast, but not too, and furious – and slow and pensive. Here the violin is strutting its stuff. The virtuosity is idiomatic and presents few overwhelming technical hurdles.

Songs Without Words: Der Abschied

“Proshchai, svite! Proshchai zemle…”
[Farewell, world! Farewell, earth!]
Taras Shevchenko

I have over 11 such Songs Without Words by now; many of them are instrumental versions of actual songs (mainly from the Emily Dickinson Songbooks). Originally composed for cello and piano, Der Abschied (Farewell) was composed in memory of a wonderful Ukrainian composer Valentin Bibik, who died in 2003 from a brain tumor. He was a good friend and I miss him; the use of German for the title is a reference to Mahler, which you may hear in the piece. An important aural image are bells; the piece begins with what I somewhere described as “dissonant bells.” These opening “bells” are important, “as they provide the harmonic and melodic material for the movement and give the listener the first indication of the sound of bells throughout the piece.” Near the end, the violin quotes a lovely series of melodic phrases from Seven Miniatures for Strings Orchestra, Op. 20 by Bibik.

Myroslav Skoryk

Melody is a work written by M. Skoryk for the film “High Pass” commissioned by film director Volodymyr Denysenko. Melody is by far Skoryk’s most recognizable and performed work. This work in different arrangements became a kind of “intonation mark” of the late 1980s - early 1990s.

Melody has a pronounced lyrical character. Perhaps the main reason for this recognition is the incredibly accurately found melodic idea, the combination of an improvisational-narrative manner with a climactic wide octave move, with a peculiar rhythmic pattern, which is perceived both as a lyrical excited monologue and as a sad violin melody of a folk virtuoso.

Giya Kancheli

Rag-Gidon-Time is emotionally filled, dynamically saturated with contrasting moods. This piece derived from the theatre, a strangely halting dance filled with silences and dynamic explosiveness, its title also alluding to the dedication to the Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer. The kaleidoscopic nature of the thematic material, the relief of harmony, the findings in the field of timbre appeal to the musical responsiveness of the listeners. Kancheli said: “I wanted to show the audience that even my light music, designed to evoke a smile, contains the main features characteristic of my chamber and symphonic works: slow tempo, sharp dynamic contrasts and pauses - that is, silence in which, as it were, continues to sound music.”


Ludmila Yurina graduated from Kyiv Music College in piano and from National Music Academy in composition with Prof. E.Stankovich, completing her post-graduate studies there. She received a Fulbright scholarship in 2010 for studies at Stanford University’s CCRMA.Yurina is an organizer and co-director of festivals of contemporary Ukrainian music in Fort Worth and New York. She has served as artistic director of numerous festivals in Ukraine and abroad. She currently works as Associate Professor in the Department of Composition at the National Music Academy of Ukraine in Kyiv. Her works have been performed and published in Ukraine, USA, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Yurina is a member of the National Composers` Union of Ukraine. Awards: Torneo Internationale di Musica TIM( Italy); Lyatoshynsky Award; Kossenko Award; Lyssenko Award. Creative residences in Germany and Sweden, lectures and workshops in Germany and USA. Yurina composes in many popular musical genres - symphonic, chamber, vocal, choral, chamber opera, electronic music, film music and radio shows.

A native of Palo Alto, California Karen Bentley Pollick studied with Camilla Wicks in San Francisco and joined the class of Josef Gingold at Indiana University, earning BM and MM degrees with a cognate field in Choral Conducting. She has performed with the Paul Dresher ElectroAcoustic Band since 1999. Her multimedia project ‘Solo Violin and Alternating Currents’ received a grant from the NEA and evolved into ‘Violin, Viola & Video Virtuosity’. Karen received a Seed Money Grant for Disseminated Performances from New York Women Composers. While residing in Vilnius she performed ‘Resonances from Vilna’ with pianist Jascha Nemtsov and premiered David A. Jaffe’s violin concerto How Did It Get So Late So Soon? with the Lithuanian National Opera & Ballet Theatre Orchestra. Karen’s debut recording for Toccata Classics presents Hermann Graedener’s two violin concertos with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. Her recent recordings garnered top recognition in the Global Music Awards: Graedener Violin Concertos, Chamber Music of Ivan Sokolov, and Orchestral Music of Ole Saxe, featuring the premiere recording of his violin concerto My Manchu Princess & Dance Suite. A founding member of Virtuosos de Cámara, Karen presents chamber music concerts in Puerto Vallarta and Nayarit. Recent concerts include the premieres of Pietà by Jerry Mader and ROMANTARCTICA by Henning Kraggerud, plus live video of MAQA VIOLIN by Yitzhak Yedid.