First Workshop Preview of
Floating Tower’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: an immersive musical homage to the spirit of Ukraine
Saturday and Sunday July 1-2 at 7PM
Presented by the Adams Theater and Produced by Floating Tower
All proceeds donated to Razom For Ukraine
JULY 1 & 2, 2023
Composer Mátti Kovler and his musical collective Floating Tower bring together a group of Ukrainian teen refugees, members of Ukrainian Village Voices and a multinational cast of local and immigrant musicians for the first workshop preview of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. Initially conceived in Ukraine in 2017 as an immersive collaboration between the Ukrainian National Symphony and Floating Tower, the project was envisioned to take place in Kyiv and Uman. Putin’s war has temporarily interfered with these plans. The piece was inspired by the Sergei Parajanov’s film of the same name, situated in the Carpathian Mountains of Western Ukraine. Taking Parajanov’s iconic film as a point of departure, Floating Tower’s project-in-the making aims to refute Putin’s notion of Ukraine’s non-existence through re-contextualizing Ukrainian folklore in a broader context of world cultures.
From antiquity until the present day, Ukraine has been a meeting place for Jewish, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine civilizations. Inhabited by a variety of nations and peoples, from Iranian-speaking Cimmerians to the ancient Scythians, from Crimean Tatars to Cossacks and Ottomans, Ukraine has its own distinct culture and rich historical heritage. The project illuminates the lesser known and fascinating musical parallels between ancient Ukrainians, Jews, Persians, Greeks, and inhabitants of Balkans. Parajanov’s tragic tale of an ill-fated couple, Ivan and Marichka, is a point of reference to guide the audience through an hour-long performance that intentionally does not have any dialogue and is performed in various languages including multiple dialects of Ukrainian, Yiddish, Persian, Arabic, and Hebrew without translation. Mátti Kovler conceived of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors in collaboration with Berkshire-based video artist Joe Wheaton.
Order of Segments:
Scene I Exposition
Scene II Innocence
Scene III Village Dance
Scene IV Starry Night
Scene V Winter Journey
Scene VI Prayer
Scene VII Finale: Sacrifice
Music Director/Piano/Voice: Mátti Kovler
Videography: Joe Wheaton
Ethnomusicological Research: Brian Dolphin
Co-Director/Choreography: Dima Koan
Set Design: (Procession elements, Trembita Costumes): Amir Zeidani
Costume Design: Anya Sobolieva
Production Interns: Diana Sobolieva and Finn Jolly
Sound Design/Production Manager: James Kogan
Sound Engineer: Chris Carlotta
Boy Ivan: Petya Politaev
Girl Marichka: Polina Politaeva
Teenage Ivan: Danylo Boiko
Teenage Marichka: Eleonora Gudyma
Adult Ivan: Brian Dolphin
Adult Marichka: Asia Mieleszko
Village Madman: Dima Koan
Evil Molfar: Martin Shamoonpoor
Marichka’s Spirit: Mahya Hamedi
Village Musician/Sopilka/Accordion: Ben Batchelder
Ensemble/Double Bass/Trembita: James Kogan
Ensemble/Bandura/Accordion: Zoya Shepko
Ensemble: Max Temnogorod
Ensemble: Hanna Kipnis King
Ensemble: Natalie Oshukany
Ensemble/Guitar: Aidan Meyer Golden
Ensemble: Simba Yangala
Voice/Accordion: Matthew Shifrin
Violin: Masha Vasilevskaya
Oud: Bob Davis
Percussion/Daf Solo/Procession Solo: Rami Elassar
Kolyadniki (Community Choir Members): Gina Meyer, James Stenson,
Liz Asch, Nico Derey, Rachel Branch
Mother (Video): Gina Meyer
First and foremost, we would like to thank all of the participants for their unbelievable commitment. With the scarce financial resources of an ad-hoc production company run entirely by volunteers, a workshop of this scale would not have been possible without everyone’s ingenuity and ability to improvise and creatively overcome (multiple) obstacles along the way. It is a part of the Ukrainian spirit of this show.
We are grateful to Yina Moore, the visionary behind Adams Theater whose unrelenting dedication made this workshop possible. A separate thank you to Yina’s parents whose work behind the scenes was not left unnoticed. Thank you to Joe Wheaton, for his creative talent, time, and enormous kindness. Thank you to Floating Tower’s generous donors: Marsha Gray, Carla Shen, Marcy Syms, David Smythe, Adams Community Bank, Chase Hill Artist Retreat. Thank you to our fiscal sponsor Jewish Creativity International. Thank you to producer Gennady Gutgartz (Ukraine) for his creative consultation. Thank you to Deborah Fishman (FED Social) and to Simba Yangala (Golden Table) for feeding the musicians for the past 9 days.
Thank you to the many community members and host families who housed the musicians outside the Chase Hill Artist Retreat: Carolyn Brooks, Gilad Barakan, Rob Fitzgerald, Topia Inn. Thank you to the community volunteers who helped with various tasks from driving to emotional support: The Dolphin family, Gina Meyer, Liz Asch, Jeff Poushter, Maria, Misha Beiser Wulf. Thank you to Amir Zeidani for the beautiful procession elements.
We’re likewise grateful for the participation and diligence of NYC-based Ukrainian Village Voices and especially to Brian Dolphin for his ethnomusicological research, consultation, and guidance. This project would not have been possible without Brian’s creative input. Thank you to James Kogan for saving the day and becoming a de-facto sound engineer on a one-day notice. Thank you to our dear friend/co-conspirator Anya Zicer, an actor, producer, and educator whose Lost & Found Project was our point of connection to the Ukrainian Refugee teens participating in this production.
This would not have been possible without your wonderful work with the teens alongside Masha Vasilevskaya and Dima Koan. Thank you to the Ukrainian teens for not only performing but actively contributing to the choreography and staging of the show. Your professionalism and talent left us all in awe. Thank you to Francesca Olsen for help with crafting the press release and marketing, to Roman Iwasiwka for photography and videography, to Rachel Branch and Berkshire Community TV’s Solutions Rising, to Mike Dupler for providing the initial rehearsal space at the Blue Building, NYC, to Bobbi Paley for helping to spread the word, to Rocky Greenberg and Susan Popper for their help with navigating the last minute lighting emergency. A separate thank-you to David (Mikey) Smythe, for his patience and help behind the scenes. Thank you all!