SPIRIT OF WATER
In 2021, WARC commissioned an international orchestral collaboration titled “Spirit of Water”. The piece is inspired by the indigenous traditions and ecological challenges facing five major water bodies in Eurasia and North America: the Hudson, the Drina, Lake Baikal, Lake Ruskeala, and the Aral Sea. The composers, hailing from Russia, Serbia, Uzbekistan and the United States collaborated to raise awareness about the natural and cultural heritage surrounding these sites. Each piece contributes to the global dialogue on climate change.
At the event, composers shared about their personal relationship to the given water bodies. “I am from a Karakalpak village near the Aral Sea. I witnessed the devastating effects the loss of the sea had on my community,” said Ayapbergen Otegenov, “I would like to share the cry of my people, who have suffered much from this disaster; an example for the rest of the world.”
Since its engagement in the Aral Sea Region of Uzbekistan in 2016, WARC seeks to involve young people in ecological advocacy throughout Eurasia. Sadly, the lesson of the Aral Sea has not been learned, and many of our most precious water bodies are facing a similar fate today. At the concert, the Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the United Nations Bakhtiyor Ibragimov and WARC president Robert Willard discussed these lessons. “The degradation of our lakes, rivers and seas most directly affects the indigenous populations living nearby, for many of whom these water bodies hold a special cultural value. For the Buryats- the Baikal, the Karakalpaks- the Aral, or the Algonquin- the Hudson.”
Despite these challenges, Spirit of Water shares a message of hope through music. “Contemporary music should move humans closer to nature, and to themselves. It helps us look past the artificial, technological illusions of modernity,” concluded composer Pavel Andreev, composer of the piece Ruskeala.
"Spirit of Water" premiered at the National Opera Center in New York on August 28, 2020, with an additional performance along the Hudson River the day before. We organizing recurring performances of the piece in the United States and abroad, to raise awareness and funds for a more sustainable planet.
Meet the Composers:
Born in Siberia, Olga’s family lived across Russia during her childhood and eventually moved to Montenegro. In both countries she won a number of competitions for young composers and was recognized for her choral work. After having relocated to Belgrade, Serbia for university studies in music, Olga won first place in the ULJUS competition and had her work performed at festivals such as FESTUM, KoMA, 50 Kalemegdanski Sutoni, and others. She is also very engaged in mixed-media collaborations and has composed music for the TV-drama Proleće u Januaru, commissioned by RTS (Radio & Television of Serbia). Olga’s movement documents the transformation of the Drina River since the industrialization of the Balkans and its importance to the region’s fragile ecosystems.
Born to an American father and a Russian-Armenian mother, Albert is currently studying piano at the Mannes School of Music under the tutelage of Irina Morozova. He additionally takes jazz classes at the New School and studies jazz piano with Dan Tepfer. As a performer and a composer, Albert was a finalist for multiple awards and won the 2013 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award, first place in the 2014 Intersection of Jazz and Classical Music Piano Competition at UWV, Downbeat Magazine’s 2017 Outstanding Performance Award, and second place in the 2019 Metropolitan International Piano Competition. He has participated in numerous summer festivals around the United States and abroad and has had the privilege of working closely with musicians as Peter Serkin, Hayk Arsenayn, Alexander Braginsky, Armen Donelian, and Ran Blake. Albert will be composing a movement on the indigenous, colonial, and modern history of the Hudson River.
Beginning his piano career at four years old under the tutelage of Galina Andreevna Bystrova, Pavel Andreev graduated from the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in 2007. Pavel has organized a number of collaborative projects such as the duet for piano “Sky Breath” in 2012 and “Awakening” in 2017, the later of which was performed on a floating piano on Marble Lake in Ruskeala, Karelia. The video of the performance became a viral hit and can be seen here: bit.ly/3waZm7d . Pavel will be composing a movement on the local cultures and history of Ruskeala for the “Spirit of Water” suite.
Born in Irkutsk, Russia, Elizaveta Savchenko studies at the Fryderyk Chopin College of Music, where she specializes in contemporary composition under the direction of Yan Leonidovich Krul. She has been selected as laureate for a number of competitions, including the S.S. Prokofiev International Competition and the All-Russian Competition for Young Composers. With such winning pieces as “Baikal Toccata” and “Sunny Irkutsk,” Elizaveta has a wealth of experience translating the sublime environment of her native Siberia into the language of music.
Ayapbergen Otgenov received his bachelor’s and master’s from the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan in 2012 and 2015. While completing his education, Ayap won first prize in the 2013 Paulo Serrão International Piano Competition in Italy and the 2019 Fiestalonia Milenio in Spain. He has composed countless works in a variety of genres, including historical dramas for the Uzbek National Academic Drama Theater and for television series such as Ayjamal and Sen Uchun. He is a member of the Union of Composers and Baskators of Uzbekistan and additionally works as a senior lecturer at the State Institute of Arts and Culture of Uzbekistan.