Karmella Tsepkolenko - Background And Figure Background
Karmella Tsepkolenko was born in an Ukrainian-Armenian Family, whose roots were under suspicion for the Soviet autorities. Her mother came from a historically known and musical West-Armenian Roman-Catholic family Demurcian, which were almost completely massacred in Turkey in 1915. The survived grand parents of Karmella as well as her father's Orthodox-Ukrainian family were also expropriated and subjected to reprisals in the USSR in the late 1920s. Hence the composer did not want anything to do with the official Soviet ideology. But she still had to get over many obstacles in purely musical area. If Stravinsky's und Schonberg's music in 1970s was no longer prohibited in the USSR, the composers were always obliged to swear allegiance to traditional conventions of the academised Russian School. A new phase of Soviet musical academism was associated with Shostakovitch's epigones. The political and artistic situation was especially difficult in the Ukraine, where all abroad contacts were severely suppressed and only as exception sanctionned by Moscow authorities. The Ukrainian musical libraries received no printed scores and musical journals from abroad. Even the professional composers were invited to follow models of popular folk music and romances. The Kiev musical avant-garde of the 1960s was destroyed and even the possibility of a particular development of the contemporary Ukrainian art was called in question. Odessa as an international city with traditions of multiculturalism and liberalism always seemed dangerous to Soviet authorities and was under strict control. Odessa Conservatoire was transformed to a most retrograde high school for music in the country (although founded in 1913 by Witold Maliszewski, the future teacher of Witold Lutoslawski). So Karmella had after as well as before the collapse of the USSR to look for an identity not only for herself, but also for Ukrainian New Music in general. Logically she became a co-founder and the leader of Association New Music (the Ukrainian section of the ISCM) and the festival 'Two Days and Two Nights of New Music'. All that has implied interruption of traditions of the academised Russian-Soviet composition school and retum of Ukrainian music to European musical process.
Aesthetic of the Subconscious
Karmella Tsepkolenko opposes rational logic (or form) to irrational and subconscious intuitive musical structures caused by feelings. Hence, music always is part and a reflected image of life, so experience, but not only experience of the mere reality, but also of other 'secret' worlds, which should be uncovered per music in a subconscious way. In order to represent the 'discourse of the cosmos', a composer should conquer 'the dragon of musical technique'. Any technique, even if the most fresh one, shall always remain dead, but a really new music will be a striking, fascinating holiday and tense play of feelings and feeling-like sounds and colours. A musical piece is like a window into such festivities of life. The history of music may be represented not as a compositional technique in progress, but as a reflected image and live experience of the transforming subconscious.
Any new work has to mirror and to produce a new experience, so it needs a new emotional structure and musical form. For that a composer requires special, subconsciously oriented methods, e.g. an original scenario for any composition to be created. Not only musiņal contents, but all musical parameters of Tsepkolenko's works (their material, technique, form, instrumentation) are defined through a 'scenario'. Properly, that is a kind of programming the whole creative process of composition in a dialogic play of the composer with his scenario as well as musical material. Also, the future performance is aforeprogrammed as inner psychologic interpretation and outer theatre-like performance. In Tsepkolenko's works there are to be differentiated: generalized, say symbolic 'idea scenarios' (ref. numerical symbolism in string quartet 'Glorification of the Four Elements'), dramaturgical 'fable scenarios' with latent musical dramaturgy ('Theatre Sonate', 'Card Games') and 'literature scenarios' which are close to programme music ('Puritan Lady Flute's History').
Feminine and Children Musical Perception
A special function of model at scenario composition belongs to naive musical experience of the children as well as to feminine emotional perception, because the 'emosphere' is of vital importance for both these 'marginal cultural groups'. The children perceive music as dialogic experience and musical images as expression of feelings, colours, voices, portraits, and such a 'naive' perception must be valid in case of adults, too. Though musiņ as such shall not be masculine or feminine, but good of bad one, the 'feminine' emotional psychology is by no means less important for scenario composition than the 'masculine' rational psychology.
'Festival music' trend is no evil, but blessing for New Music, since it has produced a new context and a new musical genre. Why must the New Music be squeezed into the small bounds of abstractly thinkable 'absolute music'? The festival 'Two Days and Two Nights of New Music' in Odessa directed by Karmella is considered as integral work of arts. It is held every April (since 1995) and really lasts a whole weekend from four hours p.m. on Friday until four hours a.m. on Saturday and from four hours p.m. on Saturday until four hours a.m. on Sunday. This weekend festival is featured by extreme concentration of time: two 12-hour non-stop vigils are divided into ca. one-hour long performances, installations, experimental and instrumental theatre actions, multimedia shows etc. Even in case of a more conventional quasi concert, the ritual forms are substituted by theatralised play forms as Duel-Duo, Solo-solissimo and similar. The festival room also is far from common stereotypes - the hall interior resembles a night club with a performance area in the middle instead of the stage. The great success of the festival confirmed by thousands of Ukrainian audience has demonstrated, that New Music today is vital not only in an elitist context.
Stylistically, Tsepkolenko in 1980s came nearer to free atonality, and since she has started individualising the form on the grounds of scenario composition in a dramaturgical manner, she has gradually emancipated from academised post-Shostakovitch tradition. After her Darmstadt experience she joined various trends of European New Music using free models and markedly post-modern stylistic means, but sound of her music was always determined by ear. She prefers linear (sometimes widened per chords) und dialogic texture, performance-like 'festival-genres' (Solo-solissimo, Duel-Duo, Card Games), naturalness of expression.