Concert Programs

Thornton Edge presents the Slava Festival – Concert Program

April 11, 2023
7:30 p.m.

New music ensemble, Thornton Edge, under the direction of faculty member Donald Crockett, presents the Slava Festival, an evening of contemporary music by composers of Ukrainian origin, including a world premiere by Composition alum Adam Karelin.



Yulia Lanina & Nina C. Young

Prayer for Ukraine

Valentyn Sylvestrov, arr. Eduard Resatsch

Concertino for Nine Players

Ivan Karabyts

Forget your Past
I. “I want to forget”
II. “Swan Song”
III. “Bells and Whistles”
IV. “Prayer”
V. “Post”

Adam Karelin

Composer Notes

Pre-Concert Installation: Mother/Land – Yulia Lanina and Nina C. Young
Yuliya Lanina’s exhibition titled Mother/Land, delves into the artist’s complex relationship with the war in Ukraine. Through animation, sculpture, and installation, Lanina continues her introspective exploration of the emotional and physical impact of war and trauma…The exhibition’s centerpiece is a large animation composed from emotionally charged ink drawings she started making since the war began. The continuous scroll of images represents the artist’s experience of the war from afar. Accompanying this moving animation is a soundscape by Nina C. Young containing fragments of melodies from the Ukrainian national anthem, sirens, and birdsong.
Prayer for Ukraine – Valentyn Sylvestrov
During the 2014 Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine at the end of the Euromaidan protests, Valentyn Sylvestrov (b. 1937) listened to the songs, hymns, and prayers of the protesters. These songs, followed by violent shootings, inspired him to write several choral cycles in response. Among these many resulting works was Prayer for Ukraine. “Lord protect Ukraine” are the words that begin this prayer and this hymn to peace, love, and freedom shines in the face of the war that continues to rage on in the years after this work’s completion. Though originally written for chorus, Andreas Gies arranged the piece for instrumental forces in 2022, which has allowed the work to be performed by orchestras around the world.
Concertino for Nine Players – Ivan Karabyts
Ivan Karabyts (1945-2002) once wrote “In Soviet times, we received a basic education, but we were not sufficiently informed about what was going on in the multifaceted music world…” So much of Karabyts’ music completely rejects Soviet-era isolationism and looks towards integration and synthesis. His music melds together arrays of musical inspirations, seamlessly and effortlessly shifting between diverse characters and styles. Karabyts named Mahler, Lyatoshynsky, Bartók, Stravinsky, and Shostakovich as influences, but what shines through in his music is his strikingly original voice, his ability to create magical textures with familiar instruments, and his relentless wit.
Forget your Past – Adam Karelin
The Monument House of the Bulgarian Communist Party on Buzludzha Peak towers over its landscape. A typical architectural monstrosity from Soviet brutalism, its gray concrete has endured as a symbol of Moscow’s domination over the peoples trapped behind the iron curtain. But in the post-Soviet era, an unknown artist graffitied FORGET YOUR PAST in bright red letters over the entrance to the building. When I saw a picture of this graffiti in 2019, those words resonated with me far beyond words, and into what has now finally become my first oratorio. These three words, “forget your past,” are they a command? A suggestion? A taunt? Are they sincere? Are they ironic? Do they tell us what Moscow wants us to do? Do they reveal to us what we want to do?
My great-grandparents all spoke Yiddish as children. By the time they were adults they had learned Ukrainian, and for most of their working lives, they had to speak Russian. My grandparents and mother speak Russian, Hebrew, and English. And my last name traces back to the Karelian people on the border between Russia and Finland. Under Soviet rule, Ukrainian Jews lost their homes and their language. No one in my family speaks Yiddish anymore and our family’s old home in Kherson is being attacked by Moscow once again. In the post-Soviet era, many folks have scattered around the world, with some families, like my own, being forced to immigrate multiple times each generation. And so for me, a post-Soviet, post-Yiddish, post-immigration, post-justabouteverything Russian-speaking Ukrainian Jew who was born in Israel and grew up in the United States with a Karelian last name…these three little words ask more questions than they answer, but carry more songs than they stamp out.
-Adam Karelian

Program Notes

Curated by Adam Karelin, USC’s 2022 valedictorian, the Slava Festival is a celebration of living Ukrainian art and culture, featuring music both from Ukraine and from its global diaspora including Valentyn Sylvestrov’s Prayer for Ukraine, and Ivan Karabyts’s Concertino for Nine Players.
Presented in partnership with the Stand with Ukraine Foundation and the USC Dornsife Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, the event features a pre-concert art installation and a post-concert reception for humanitarian relief in Ukraine.
Post-Concert Reception
Following the concert, a reception sponsored by the USC Dornsife Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures will treat concertgoers to traditional Ukrainian crepes from local business, BlinBlin.

About the Artists

Thornton Edge, previously known as the Contemporary Music Ensemble, was founded in 1976 by Robert Wojciak. Since 1984, the group has been under the direction of Donald Crockett. Composed of some of the finest student musicians of the USC Thornton School of Music, Edge has presented an annual series of concerts at USC for many years. It has been a guest at the long-standing Los Angeles series Monday Evening Concerts and at the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series. Its players have performed as soloists with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the ensemble has presented concert tours in Berlin, Paris and Lyons. Under Donald Crockett, Edge has presented numerous premieres and has been coached and/or conducted by such composers as Witold Lutoslawski, John Harbison, Henryk Górecki, Joan Tower, Steven Stucky, Judith Weir and the members of the USC Thornton composition faculty. Edge received the 2004 LA Weekly Award for Outstanding Classical Soloist/Ensemble.

Text & Translations

Forget your Past
I. “I want to forget”
Я все забути хочу, все що забути можу.
Я так і все забула, що забути хотіла.
Але ось я згадала те, що я вже забула,
те, що мені не треба,
що доля мені дала.
Я все забула.
Я все пам’ятаю.
Я нiчого не пам’ятаю
Я нiчого не можу забути.
Я не можу.
Не пам’ятаю нiчого,
не можу забути.
I want to forget everything I can forget.
So I forgot everything, everything I could forget.
But I remembered what I had already forgotten,
what I don’t need,
what fate gave me.
I forgot everything.
I remember everything.
I don’t remember anything.
I can’t forget anything.
I can’t.
I don’t remember anything;
I can’t forget.
II. “Swan Song”
Fargesn deyn fargangenheyt.
Fargesn meyn fargangenheyt?
Ikh vil nisht fargesn.
Forget your past.
Forget my past?
I don’t want to forget.
Forget your past
Forget your past
Forget your past
Forget your past
and then at last
I’m one of you
I’m one of you
You don’t believe me
but it’s true
I walk like you
I talk like you
I’ve even learned
to hate like you
I don’t remember how to cry
I don’t remember anything
but you did teach me
how to sing
III. “Bells and Whistles”
Älgiä duumaikkua
gu minun kieli kuoli
Iz meyn shfrakh toyt?
Meyn shfrakh iz toyt.
Ober meyn mentshn lebn.
Meyne lider lebn.
Ir kenen nit fargesn mir.
Don’t think
that my language has died.
Is my tongue dead?
My tongue is dead.
But my people live.
My songs live.
You cannot forget me.
IV. “Prayer”
Услышьте небеса
Молитву мою
Отпустите вы меня
от прошлого
Дайте мне забыть
И с начало начать жить
Без веса бетонного прошлого
Дайте мне пустить цветы
И радугой замазать серость
Откатите облака
И смягчите мерзость
Я молиться не умею
и верить не могу
Пошлите мне амнезию
Снесите помять ту
которою любил
ту которую ценил
Это небо без небес
Ушли они с этого света
Хотел я на свою молитву
Услышать светлого ответа
И получить свободу
от прошлого
от проклятого прошлого
освободится, возродится
и опять, вновь искать
для того чтоб забывать
и в конце концов
смогу я больше не бежать
вить без памяти нету прошлого
а без прошлого нету слёз
Истёкшая река
растекалась в небеса
от мнимого источника
до умопомрачение
Heavens, hear
my prayer
Release me
from the past
Let me forget
And once again begin to live,
Without the weight of a past of concrete
Let me release colors
And with a rainbow wipe over the grayness
Roll back the clouds
And soften evil
I don’t know how to pray
And I can’t have faith
Send me amnesia
Tear down the memory
that I loved
that I valued
This is a sky without heavens
They left this world
I wanted to hear a bright
answer to my prayer
And get freedom
from the past
from the damned past
be freed, be reborn
and again, newly search for
the past
in order to forget
and in the end
I’ll be able to stop running
from the past
for without memory there is no past
and without the past there are no tears
The desiccated river
flowed out into the heavens
from an imaginary spring
to the absurd
V. “Post”
Я забыла, что смогла
А что помню я забуду
Буду прошлое своё бросать
И не гладь забывать
Чтоб воскресла всё опять
Так чтоб нам было о чём подпевать
Хором вместе споём
и потом гладко сойдём
С ума, вить легче жить без памяти дерьма
Так что я забуду
И с пустой башкой помру
Счастливой дурой благодарная добру
Как я рада всё забить
И дальше спокойно жить
Счастья помнить ничего
Чтобы петь не знали что
I forgot, what I could
And what I remember, I’ll forget
I’ll toss away my past
And without looking back, forget
so that everything can resurrect,
so that we have something to sing along about
As a choir we’ll sing together
And then gently slip out of ourselves,
since it’s easier to live without the memory of sh*t
And so I’ll forget
And with an empty noggin die
A joyful idiot grateful to goodness
Oh, how happy I am to forget everything
And live on peacefully
It’s a joy to remember nothing
So that we won’t know what to sing about
– – – –
אני רוצה לשכוח
(ani rotsa lishkoakh)
אני רוצה לשכוח את העבר
(ani rotsa lishkoakh et he avar)
ואני לא רוצה לזכור שום דבר
(ve ani lo rotsa lishkor shum davar)
בבקשה תן לשכוח
(bevakasha ten lishkoakh)
I want to forget
I want to forget the past
And I don’t want to remember anything
Please let me forget
– – – –
I don’t want to forget my past
I don’t want to forget my past
and who I am.
It’s all I’ve got left,
since you burned everything else.
And I won’t let you come and take the rest.
What a fool I was
I never should’ve tried to forget anything,
to forget my
Texts composed, translated, and transliterated by the composer in Ukrainian, Yiddish, English, Karelian, Russian, and Hebrew.


Prayer for Ukraine
Composed by Valentyn Sylvestrov
Chloe Descher, flute 1
Alie Whalley, flute 2
Caleb Durant, horn 1
Jean Smith, horn 2
Dominic Grande, percussion
Kaitlin Miller, harp
Veronika Manchur, violin 1
Olena Kaspersky, violin 2
Julia Moss, viola
Alex Mansour, cello
Sarah Wager, bass
Concertino for Nine Players
Composed by Ivan Karabyts
Elad Navon, clarinet
Taki Salameh, bassoon
Tali Duckworth, trumpet
Alex Melzer, trombone
Dominic Grande, percussion
Zoe Beyler, percussion
Elizabeth Chou, piano
Olena Kaspersky, violin
Sarah Wager, bass

Forget your Past
Composed by Adam Karelin
Marina Hovhannisyan, voice
Hannah Rice, voice
Antonina Styczen-Leszczynska, flute
Sonia Matheus, oboe
Melissa Frisch, clarinet
Taki Salameh, bassoon
Christina Gasparich, piano
Paulina Delgadillo, harp
Dominic Grande, percussion
Agatha Blevin, violin 1
Laura Gamboa, violin 2
Julia Moss, viola
Alex Mansour, cello
Ethan Moffitt, bass