Kiev Symphony Orchestra to Perform at Baylor

Oct. 6, 2000

Who would have thought that a mission trip to Eastern Europe would result in 175 Ukrainian musicians visiting Waco and Baylor?

The Kiev Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will perform at Baylor University at 8 p.m., Oct. 19-20 in Jones Concert Hall. The concerts, sponsored by a group of local physicians, will benefit Baylor University School of Music scholarships.

In March 1999, Waco physician Scott W. Livesay went to Kiev, Ukraine, on a mission trip with of a group of physicians and other individuals. While there, he met Roger McMurrin, an American conductor who lives in Kiev. McMurrin and his wife, Diane, moved to Kiev after visiting the former Communist country in 1992.

Roger McMurrin had gone to Kiev to direct the first performance in that city of Handel's Messiah with 35 professional Ukrainian musicians and a hired state orchestra. The response to the performance was so overwhelming that the McMurrins decided to sell their Florida home and move to Kiev. They believed that classics, which essentially were unknown during 70 years of Communist oppression, would bring hope to a people experiencing political turmoil and economic hardship. They also wanted to bring employment and international exposure to the artists who lived in the capital city.

Dr. Livesay was so impressed with the McMurrins and their story that upon his return to Waco, he approached Baylor President Robert B. Sloan, Jr., about the possibility of bringing the Ukrainian orchestra to Waco. Dr. Livesay and the nine other Waco doctors who had gone on the mission trip decided to underwrite the concert at Baylor, with all proceeds benefiting student scholarships for the School of Music.

While the Ukrainians are in Waco, they will be staying with approximately 80 Waco families for three nights. During the Baylor performance, titled "From Sea to Shining Sea," the Kiev Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will perform excerpts from Romeo and Juliet and Alexander Nevsky by Prokofiev, arias from the Russian/Ukrainian repertoire, Ukrainian classics by Bortniansky, Rachmaninoff, and others, Taneyev's "John of Damascus," Ukrainian folk music, "Fantasy on Adeste Fideles" by John Rutter, an American salute with a spiritual medley, songs from Gershwin, Bernstein, and Berlin, and several other pieces.

The Kiev Symphony Orchestra and Chorus are the only private ones in Ukraine. There are 50 professional state choirs, six professional orchestras, and three opera companies in Kiev alone.The Kiev groups have performed for President Bill Clinton, participated in the International Church Musical Festival in Bern, Switzerland, and toured the United States, performing 27 concerts for more than 30,000 Americans. In 1998, their second trip to the United States, the symphony and chorus performed at Carnegie Hall, Severance Hall in Cleveland, Jacoby Hall in Jacksonville, and Princeton University Chapel.

"I am delighted that they are coming to Baylor," said Stephen Heyde, professor of orchestral studies, director of orchestral activities and Conductor-in-Residence.

General admission concert tickets are $25 each. For tickets or more information, contact Richard Veit, School of Music Concert and Promotion Manager, at (254) 710-3991 or Richard_Veit@baylor.edu.

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