Kateryna Suprun and her “Mriya”. The opinion of musicians about sovereignty Olya Lozynska

Катерина Супрун. Фото Сергія Горобця

An interview with violist Kateryna Suprun about the “Mriya” project in Berlin, music after February 24, performance and management, dreams and even greater hopes.

This is an attempt to capture the experience at a time when, along with the full-scale war in Ukraine, Ukrainian performers are doing unusual things for themselves, such as refusing the Russian repertoire. Of course, these are rather exceptional phenomena, more familiar to the «Facebook bubble» than to the large market of classical music.

However, we are already taking small steps towards major worldview changes, and therefore this conversation seems to me to be a small brick in the foundation of the Ukrainian culture formation in the world after 24.02. And I want to capture it.

Being a refugee-musician in Germany

Kateryna Suprun: I came to Germany in the first days of a full-scale war. My friends live here, including cellist Lev Kucher, son of professor Ivan Kucher. We studied at the same school with Lev, 10 years ago he left to study in Germany. After the full-scale invasion, the Ukrainians began to establish connections with friends, who had left earlier. Lev mentioned Roman Ohem, who is one of the leaders of the Culture Connects foundation, which offers assistance to refugee musicians. And we thought that it would be great to build up a team, perhaps even an orchestra.

So we created a string orchestra at the end of March and called it “Mriya”. The debut concert took place in Hamburg at the Laeiszhalle in April. Later, my team and I decided to expand the composition and started inviting wind musicians to concert programs, but first of all we started our work as a chamber string orchestra. 

Concerts as a part of quartet began immediately, where we performed at charity events to support Ukraine.

After these few events, we were moved towards and being offered performances in concert halls in Germany. Many foundations began to support us financially and we were able to do the first big project in the Laeiszhalle (Hamburg). It was a concert with famous Ukrainian soloists — Kateryna Titova, Varvara Vasylieva, Hanna Tsurkan and me. The program of the concert consisted of Ukrainian and European music. And on May 10, “Mriya” played a concert in the Berlin Philharmonic together with the famous violinist Andrii Belov and pianist Artem Yasinsky led by Odesa conductor Margarita Hrynyvetska. This project was supported by the Embassy of Ukraine in Germany.


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The position of execution and sovereignty

Kateryna Suprun: From the very beginning, we formulated a strategy: we play Ukrainian music and music of European composers. Our Ukrainian program for quartet consists of quartet by Vasyl Barvinskyi, “Suite on Ukrainian themes” by Borys Lyatoshynskyi, music by Anna Havrylets. The repertoire of the quartet is constantly updated.

The “Mriya” orchestra cannot and will not perform Russian music. Now this is impossible, this is our radical position. Now is the time to raise the great, deep Ukrainian culture. Therefore, this is our mission and we are positioning “Mriya” as an orchestra that promotes and talks about Ukrainian music. Among such projects is «Hear Twice»: at the concert in Hamburg, we talked with the German musicologist Rafael Rennike about the work of Boris Lyatoshynskyi for the audience, before the very performance of the composer’s quartets. It was a deep discussion about music, it sounded in a different context, unknown to most Germans. That’s why there is no Russian music for us now, it’s simple.

“Mriya” as a symbol

Kateryna Suprun: “Mriya”. Personally, I see in this name not only a famous Ukrainian plane. For me, the name carries a deep meaning: the plane was destroyed, but not completely. It is standing, and I think we can rebuild it, although I don’t know if it will still fly. But “Mriya” is a history. The same thing is happening to all of us, to all of Ukraine. No matter how broken we are, we do not give up. This is also the story of many Ukrainian musicians who were forced to leave Ukraine.

For example, many women with children who felt broken, without knowing the language and understanding what to do next. But we are unbreakable, because we have Ukrainian spirit. This is the meaning of the name “Mriya” for our group. The Germans ask us about the meaning of the word “mriya” and we, of course, tell them everything. They also read this title interestingly: as a dream of victory.

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Inner musical kitchen

Kateryna Suprun: The programs are created by me. Taking into account that we are in Europe, the program is, accordingly, divided into two sections with works of Ukrainian and European composers. But the emphasis is always put on Ukrainian music, we are constantly experimenting and adding new things. We have basic pieces that we always perform — Valentyn Sylvestrov, Myroslav Skoryk and Yuriy Shevchenko.

The soloists change, among the constant ones are me and the pianist Kateryna Titova. We have a strong tandem with Kateryna, in 2020 we created Suprun Titova Duo and toured together throughout Ukraine. Katya has been constantly coming to Ukraine on tours in recent years, she is a powerful pianist. After all, “Mriya” is especially pleased to play with Ukrainian soloists who have lived abroad for a long time, and we see a special meaning in these collaborations. From April to November, we played more than 30 concerts, among them there were performances at the famous Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and Laetshalle, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Bremen Theater, in Langenlagen, at various locations in Berlin and at music festivals.

In addition to classical music concerts, we have recently performed together with “Okean Elzy”, who came on tour to Germany. We played a song “Obiimy” and, to be honest, that was vey symbolic. All close people are on the same stage, in the same hall – that was a wonderful feeling. This is the time when Ukrainian performers come, we all feel as if at home. And it was so touching to sing this song, because it begins with the words “when the war ends».


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Management is an important skill

Kateryna Suprun: As a team leader, I also perform as a concert director, that is I recruit musicians and deal with organisational issues related to rehearsals and logistics. At the same time Lev and I also take care of the musicians comfort.

Of course, it is difficult, for me this project is “3 in 1”: I am both a soloist, a concertmaster in an orchestra and a manager.

Experience really helps me, because at one time I was in charge of a string quartet “Danapris”, created projects for presidential grants, worked on the “Malanka” project, was both a performer and a project manager of the New Era Orchestra. Actually, I learned how to build organisational structures for a big team there. But even this experience is not enough, I would really like to get additional education so that everything could be managed more professional and at the highest level.

Read also:

Star of medieval music Benjamin Bagby listens Ukrainian classical music

Listening to contemporary Ukrainian music: “Air mechanics” by Alla Zagaykevych

Grammy winner Nadia Shpachenko released an album in support of Ukraine

About the Author

The Claquers is a Ukrainian online magazine devoted to classical music that unites a group of music critics with the mission to foster a critical conversation about art music in Ukraine and beyond. The Claquers organization was founded in June 2020 by musicologist Stas Nevmerzhytskyi and three colleagues: musicologist Dzvenyslava Safian, music theorist Liza Sirenko, and cultural critic Oleksandr Ostrovskyi.

The publication’s provocative name suggests the context in which The Claquers was conceived. After two previous generations of proactive critics who had careers in education and cultural promotion, classical music criticism was limited to either positive reviews or no reviews at all. A fresh and uncensored eye on events in classical music life in Ukraine was needed to shake up the musical community and complete the country’s classical music ecosystem.

Unlike in western Europe and North America, art music audiences in Ukraine are much younger. The collective of writers with The Claquers is also young, and has taken on the task of explaining to these new listeners why a long tradition of classical music in Ukraine exists, and how it became a part of today’s cultural life. As a group The Claquers considers its main goals: to educate about contemporary classical Ukrainian music, to build bridges with popular culture by publishing about diverse musical genres and other arts (such as music in literature or in film), to expand the critical tools of music criticism with audio podcasts, and to cultivate audiences abroad via an English version of the website.

The Claquers was made possible by generous funding that enabled its establishment and is sustained by the generosity of donors on Patreon. This singular and engaged Ukrainian online hub devoted to classical music continues to engage people in this music and invite new authors.

Stas Nevmerzhytskyi (ФОП Станіслав Невмержицький), individual proprietor

The registration number of the taxpayer's registration card, or the series and number of the passport:

Location of a individual proprietor:
Ukraine, 04212, Kyiv city, TYMOSHENKA STREET, building 2K, room 302

Date and number of entry in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, individual proprietor and public organizations:
10/16/2020, 2000690010002052048


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