New Voices: Women Composers of Eastern Europe

On June 7th, 8th and 9th, 2024, Slavyanka will present concerts of sacred choral music written by contemporary East European women composers. The concerts will include compositions from Ukraine, Bulgaria, Serbia, Belarus and Russia. Beyond some familiarity with Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, most American audiences know little of Russia’s 1000 year choral tradition, and even less about the sacred music of Eastern Europe. Yet the Orthodox spiritual vision and culture has been foundational in shaping the culture and imagination of Russian and Eastern Europe.
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Concert Schedule

Friday, June 7th; St. Mark's Church
2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley 8:00 PM.
Saturday, June 8th; First Congregational Church
1985 Louis Road, Palo Alto, 4:00 PM
Sunday, June 9th; Star of the Sea Church
4420 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, 4:00 PM


Irina Denisova
A prominent choral conductor and composer in Belarus, now a nun at the St. Elizabeth Monastery in Minsk - Nun Juliania (Denisova). When asked about how music is born, nun Juliania answers quite simply. She taught children for 30 years, explained to them what a melody consists of, how to break it down into components and put it back together, “just like a construction kit”. But only when talent is applied music becomes an expression of something “transcendent, unearthly” and communicates unity, so that every listener thinks this particular composition is about him. Simply creating a melody is easy for nun Juliania due to her higher musical education and a wealth of experience. She doesn’t even consider such unfinished compositions worth attention. Only the ones constantly recurring, the ones which she loves dearly deserve to be embodied in a fully-finished structure of a chant.

Dragana Velickovic
composer known for her contributions to religious music, has left an indelible mark through her work on Troparion. In the realm of Byzantine music and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, a troparion is a short hymn, often organized into stanzas. Its earliest function was as a refrain during the recitation of biblical odes and psalms. 

Iryna Aleksiychuk
, pianist and organist, associate professor of composition at the National Academy of Music of Ukraine, Laureate of international competitions and National Creative Awards, Honored Art Worker of Ukraine, member of the National Union of Composers of Ukraine. 

Dobrinka Tabakova
A compose
r of  ‘exciting, deeply moving’ music (Washington Times), with ‘glowing tonal harmonies and grand, sweeping gestures [which] convey a huge emotional depth’ (The Strad).
She has been commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society, BBC Radio 3 and the European Broadcasting Union. Her debut profile album String Paths, on ECM Records, was nominated for a Grammy in 2014. In 2017 she was appointed composer-in-residence with the BBC Concert Orchestra. An album of her orchestral works, recorded by the Halle Orchestra is released in October 2023.

Ljubica Marić (Љубица Марић)
18 March 1909 – 17 September 2003)

A composer from Yugoslavia. She was a pupil of Josip Štolcer-Slavenski. She was known for being inspired by Byzantine Orthodox church music. She was professor at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade and a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Ljubica Marić is considered to be the most original Serbian composer of the twentieth century and musically the most influential one.