Nadia Shpachenko — Invasion (Reference)
“People are still trying hard to stay positive. People are powerful there and they believe in victory. They're just trying to continue living their lives but don't want to leave,” says Ukrainian pianist Nadia Shpachenko. “The people that I talk to want to stay. They feel like this is their country and want to help as much as possible.
Shpachenko wants to help, too. As a concert pianist from Ukraine, she became a hero to those in her homeland when she was the first and only Ukrainian to win a Grammy. She lives and teaches in California, but her heart is in Ukraine with her family and friends. That’s why her latest recording, Invasion, featuring compositions from Lewis Spratlan, is dedicated to the Ukrainian people and all proceeds support them. The music reflects the many moods the Ukrainian people experience daily.
“I wanted to do something more,” she said. “Not a one-time thing, but a project that would be ongoing where I could raise money, and awareness and promote the work of Ukrainian artists. I was already planning to release a CD with Spratlan, who wrote many pieces for me during the pandemic. But on the first day of the war, we talked and decided that he would write a large piece about this war.”
Why did Spradlin choose a unique combination of instruments for the featured track?
“He chose the mandolin because he wanted to have a folk element. There is a Russian folk song feature at the beginning. It signifies the Russian forces arriving before they invade Ukraine. The saxophone has such a specific character. It often has melodies that are heart-wrenching but also passionate and kind. Each instrument has an exceptionally unique sound that fits the character assigned to that instrument. With the piano, I sometimes play with my fists. It has a huge sound at times.
“This piece is not what many people expect as a war piece. It is quite hopeful. It has many elements that describe Ukraine as a country or as it used to be. The middle section is very wistful, beautiful, and poetic, and it signifies nostalgia for what used to be. It is in remembrance of the beauty of Ukraine.
“This war and my experience also influence the other works. I had been learning and recording the pieces since the invasion started. Many pieces are directly connected to the war. For example, there was a video of high school seniors in Kharkiv dancing in dress clothes in front of the ruins of their high school. They were dancing the waltz. So there is one waltz-like piece on the album.”
To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.
Nadia Shpachenko — Invasion (DG Store)
Nadia Shpachenko — Invasion (Amazon)
Nadia Shpachenko (official site)
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