No one imagined that the premiere of the cultural and educational project “Babi Yar”, the preparation of which took almost two years, would fall on days when the topic of the Holocaust and the heartbreaking events associated with the genocide of the Jewish people during the Second World War, in addition to the historical aspect, would become so topical resonance.
It was these feelings that pierced the audience and participants of the action in early November, when the famous 13th symphony of the great Dmitry Shostakovich was performed by the New Russia orchestra and the poem “Babi Yar” by the great Yevgeny Yevtushenko was performed by a real scattering of stars, actors and singers - in including Alexander Rosenbaum, Emmanuil Vitorgan, Gennady Khazanov, Leonid Kanevsky, Andrey Merzlikin, Larisa Dolina and others.
The poem, which at one time shocked the country and the whole world, once inspired the composer to create a symphony, which, in turn, entered the history of music and humanity with the same piercing alarm. Now this feeling has united people in a creative and human impulse, sometimes very different, sometimes incompatible and diametrically opposed to each other, but united in a single humanistic impulse.
The original score included a male choir of 60 voices, but we increased this to 80 voices, giving the performance a more powerful and dense sound. Moreover, at the premiere in 1962 at the Moscow Conservatory, the Yurlova Chapel sang, and we invited her to take part in this project, strengthening the composition with the Sveshnikov Choir and the Moscow Jewish Chapel of Alexander Tsalyuk. It seems to me that in this performance the message of the great composition acquired an even more poignant sound. This was also confirmed by the absolutely phenomenal reception by the public, who greeted the performance with a standing ovation.
For me there was also no doubt that inviting rock musicians to this project was mandatory. Rock music always more subtly, brightly, convincingly and at the same time delicately reflects the thoughts of sensible people, especially in turbulent and turbulent times. This was the case with the “flower children” in the 60s, and during times of social crises in the 70s, and in the turbulent “postmodernist” 90s, when eras and the outdated “world order” were being broken down. This is still relevant now, when the world is being drawn into the vortex of wars and armed conflicts that threaten global catastrophe. Many rock musicians feel it is their responsibility to confront the dark side with music and creativity.
The requiem for those killed in Babi Yar was performed by the country's leading rock guitarists: musician and composer Dmitry Chetvergov; Alexey Strike, member of the groups “Moscow Time”, “Veselye Rebyata”, “Hit Cocktail”, “Sabotage”; Alexey Baev, virtuoso guitarist, composer, teacher, laureate of international competitions and jazz festivals, as well as the Moscow Klezmer Band.
Dmitry Chetvergov performed two original pieces - “Sorrow in A Minor” and “In Memory of the Departed” - a serious work that was published on the album “Twists of Fate” in 2020, but was truly performed for the first time that evening! The author himself admitted that it was not only difficult to complete the work due to the emotional tension, a sensitive topic for him, but also to perform it live, sharing with the audience the idea and tragic essence of the composition.
Alexey Strike quickly composed his own requiem “Babi Yar” in several parts. From the first to the last note, the work pierces the listener to the very heart with sensual music, which seems to be filled with living images and events of that terrible time. The traditional classical sound, based on piano with strings and choir, is unexpectedly broken by the opening tragic and sparkling electric guitar solo, they interact throughout the entire composition, organically complementing each other. This was the initial task in such an emotional context - to combine, present as a single, inseparable sound combination of classics and rock.
The outstanding guitarist and composer Alexei Baev specially wrote the composition Maze of Deception (“Labyrinth of Deception”) for this evening, which is dedicated not only to the tragedy of Babyn Yar, but also to all the wars of the past and current centuries. The audience warmly welcomed not only “Labyrinth of Deception”, but also rock tomes from world classics played with great precision by Alexey: Brothers by Yngwie Malmsteen, Tears of Sahara by Tony McAlpine, Building The Church by Steve Way.
Now more than ever, the power of art is relevant, helping to direct towards creation, and not towards destruction and destruction. At the evening of remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust and Babi Yar, musical masterpieces and original works evoked understandable empathy among the audience; many could not hold back their tears. It was not only an evening of remembrance of the departed, but a powerful and piercing reflection on the events of the current day, as well as a warning for the future, which cannot exist without the memory of the past and the lessons of the present.
Memory of Babi Yar