Oleksandr Egorov`s Program "Unformat"
City channel,
Kiyv, Ukraine.



Classical music ... This phrase provokes range of feelings and internal experiences. You can just imagine the concert hall, huge chandeliers fill the space with the noble golden light, the orchestra on the stage, full staff, everybody in tuxedos, confident, calm waiting. The audience held its breath and suddenly a wind down the hall – conductor appears, a magician, managing this action, the magician and sorcerer. The orchestra welcomes him standing, the conductor shakes hands with the first violin, makes a sign and the orchestra sits, the final preparations, a sudden wave of the conductor's baton, ringing silence in the hall and ... music, music ...


Today my guest is Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the National Radio Company of Ukraine Symphony Orchestra Vladimir Sheiko. Just look at our guest’s card and start our conversation about the art overclouded by nothing.


“Vladimir Sheiko - artistic director and chief conductor of the National Radio Company of Ukraine Symphony Orchestra. He graduated from the Kiev State Tchaikovsky Conservatory opera and symphony conducting and choral conducting specialty. Trained at the Bolshoi Theater of Opera and Ballet in Moscow. In 1990 established the first non-state private Symphony Orchestra "Ukraine" in the country. Since 2005, artistic director and chief conductor of the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the National Radio Company of Ukraine”.  


 - Did you know that you will become a conductor, exactly conductor, and not anyone else?


 - Actually, I studied music, I loved it, but I wanted to become a sailor, not vice versa. Nautical School, sails – in general a dream. But then, somewhere in the 8th form, I decided to become a musician on a military ship, well, somehow to combine these two things, because the music pulled me. Then I wanted to become a conductor on a military ship, and then quietly I walked away from the ship. So I entered the Music College after 8th form, plunged into the music and it's completely filled my consciousness and in general it was the music. I studied very well, active, a lot, everywhere in two faculties, At Music College, Conservatory, therefore, my time and my thoughts were occupied by that.


 - Did studies come easily to you?


- Yes, the studies were easy, no physics, biology, though everybody feels good with it, but the time was devoted to the music. In addition, we played some rock with the boys, we were interested in jazz, and I played in a jazz piano duo. We arranged songs on “Beatles”, “Yurai hip”, my partner became famous jazz pianist, founder of the jazz club in Kremenchug, laureate of international jazz competitions, so at that time it was enormous. And a lot of musicians graduated from Poltava Music College, where I studied. By the way, the chief conductor of the National Symphony Vladimir Sirenko studied with me, I lead the National Radio orchestra. So, there were a lot of interesting musicians. Someone was playing with Mahmud Esembaev, some part of the musicians. It was very active atmosphere and a lot of good and powerful has been born from that. It started from Poltava, Kiev was later.


 - In 1988 you graduated from the Kiev Conservatory named after Tchaikovsky and in the same year you are Music Director (Chief Conductor) of the Kiev Operetta Theatre. What is a Music Director?


 - The Soviet Union had such gradation: conductor, conductor, director, principal conductor. Music Director – is a person who is entitled to his own stage direction, not only conducting staged and is co-creator of performances with the director.


 - During the 1989-1991 you trained in the Moscow Theater of Opera and Ballet under the supervision of Fuat Mansurov.


 - Theater is the place as a university where the walls teach. We lived in this atmosphere. We got into the epoch…Vladimir Spivakov lectured us. Ten lectures a year. Spivakov has not gone to Spain, Gergiev was appointed as a chief conductor of the Mariinsky six months later. People did not depart yet ... There was nostalgia to leave, or not to leave.


 - Even before the independence of Ukraine, in 90th in autumn you created the first non-state Symphony Orchestra “Ukraine”. You have traveled a half the world with the orchestra, published discs, created a lot of ​​ recordings on the Ukrainian radio, TV and organized international festivals in Ukraine, Switzerland, Italy. About this period of your life in details please. 


 - It was the time of perestroika, before changing of our lives, before the independence of Ukraine ... I made frequent trips between Moscow and Kiev, etc. It was the idea to create the best orchestra, the idea of ​​freedom: the freedom of repertoire, the freedom of choice, freedom of movement, freedom of everything. So I created the first non-state orchestra, which embodied a dream for many and for me. And then, I was 28 years old. I turned to some people “on the street”  ... I gathered the best musicians and we had a contract system. It has not been too at that time... It was the “top” of Music Society. Three were people who have played with great conductors. How did they believe me? I have learned a lot from them. We covered about 150,000 kilometers all over the Europe with concert tours. Only in Italy we had 94 concerts in 60 cities, in France 52 cities. It is the whole story. But we had a goal. We have spared neither time nor effort. And they spared neither time nor effort. They could say, “Well, boy, what do you teach us?”. They did everything scrupulously. We played masterly. “The Virtuosos of Moscow” were created relatively recently and we had the same way. But the orchestra was bigger; it was a small symphony orchestra from the beginning, people worked on fixed salaries. All this was new too. And the name that we had given was very simple. We had very long time thinking about the name. Then we remembered: what do you call a yacht, so it will float ... And decided to name “Ukraine”. We had a global goal - to present.


 - And you did it. Brilliant, to my opinion. From 1992 to 2005 you have new period in your life. You worked as a chief conductor of the Kyiv Academic Operetta Theatre, where you revealed as a theater conductor. What is the difference between theater conductor and concert conductor?


 - It's a different system of action. First, the conductor has to know a lot of the adjacent besides his orchestra. Community with the director, ballet, choir, with a huge space and objects that give a sound, i.e. artists are involved in his field of action.


 - I will know now how to call the artists: the objects that give a sound. It is from conductor’s lips.


 - There is a space that is constantly changing ... I.e. I have to adjust with everything that is happening on stage except my personal desire and conception. In this case geography has enabled: could they see me or not, is it convenient for them or not. There is a show-complex in which conductor must adjust against his interests, stage interests, everything that happening in the hall. Often conductor excited or calmed by the public. Tempos are birthing from this. The pressure, for example. If the pressure is low, vocalists are singing harder. It is difficult to articulate the vocal cords. Even this affects...


Performance is staged and exploited during five years in a theater. There is no problem of novelty of the music material there is a problem of novelty of the situation. There is situational problem every time. How much public in a hall, is hot or cold, is high pressure or low, is salary paid or not?


- A huge mechanism with thousands of nuances you have need to pick up and they are changing all the time.


 - This is the sense of a theater.


 - You staged Gershwin, Kalman, Strauss, Offenbach. You had 15 performances. What of them did you remember most of all?


 - I memorize all of them because I love all of them.


Most of all I have memorized “Porgy and Bess” by Gershwin. It was a global staging. We steged it with an excellent team: Peter Ilchenko from the Franko Theatre was the director, art director of the Franko Theatre Andrey Aleksandrovich was a production designer, Alla Rubina was a choreographer. We gathered a company, found sponsorship money. It was unexpected at that time. We made huge unrolled double-stage theatrical. In the end, when Porgy was looking for his love, his Bess, theatrical unfolded, and he walked to the side of the ocean, which was flooded by the sun, threw off his crutches and walked away. What was interesting: we used absolutely new staging system. In Soviet era such performances were staged about 6-8 months and we have set the performance in three casts since the beginning of the opening material for the 2.5 months. And we must remember that this is operetta and it musical language is very complex: in addition, it is jazz, achievements of the twentieth century are used in it. I have deceived them. In what sense? I made a photo shoot and said: “You're a Beauty, you're a Beast” and the actors, listening to jazz (Ella Fitzgerald) had created their images. The photo shoot was in January, and the performance in June. I kept them in a riddle in all the time.And they gave rise to this conflict inside themselves: who loves and who with whom is in conflict. They “lived” in the cafeteria, a snack bar in the theater. The music of Gershwin is sounds and they're existing in it. That’s why, when they received the material they swallowed it instantly. They did that like their life's work. It was a total artistic surge. It all happened instantly. Moreover Hvorostovsky performed at the Kiev Opera Theatre at the same time during the second performance. I thought nobody would be. The first time I saw people getting into the yard, like the Winter Palace assaulting. It was filled with people sitting on the floor (fire-fighters did not allow to put the bench). It was a human and artistic shock.


 - People just wanted to touch something beautiful in that difficult times... Probably so. That's the power of art, No matter what anybody says...


 - There are lot of events and situations as always in a theater. I am grateful to the theater for this. I left the theater unexpectedly, only art director and president of the National Radio knew about that. I was introduced to the orchestra in the 29th of August and theater season opened in 30th of August. And in the morning of the 30th of August people found out that I'm leaving. I came to the meeting to say goodbye to the team. I did not know what kind of would be parting. And when art director said that Vladimir leaves us, I rise up and said “Thanks to those who was on ​​friendly terms with me, supported me. Thanks to enemies that taught me to live. I am grateful to you. I'm leaving. And suddenly in total silence people rise began to applaud. And the tears streamed from girls’ cheeks. It was so aching feeling for me... I am grateful to them for this shot. It will be forever in my memory”.


 - I want to give you a compliment. Recently being at the concert of the legendary John Lord who performed accompanied by your orchestra, I got the colossal pleasure from the unthinkable teamwork and from the action that was happening on stage. It seemed to me that in the first part the orchestra sounded better than the Bulgarian musicians, invited by Lord. I beat all the palms. I shouted bravo to musicians and Mr. Lord. I broke a voice in a literal sense. I Got colossally pleasure. How to achieve an orchestra teamwork?


 -It is impossible with force. While we are taking compliments that we have a good atmosphere in the orchestra; probably the best among many collectives. People understand that they are co-creators, not mercenaries, hewers. In addition, we had a lot of concert tours, where conditions of artistic life are very hard, when people have to support each other. We check many people through the concert tours before accepting for employment. For example, a person stayed for two months in Korea, a month in Spain: heavy conditions, top-class concert halls and a big responsibility. When he showed himself in normal everyday life, in music (as in the cabin in space), we accept him for employment. And we no problems with him in future.


 - You with the orchestra traveled to many countries in Asia and Europe, played in the best halls. How were you received?


 - We have traveled in 10 countries. Everywhere we were taken standing. It is just the “end of quote”. Spain generally likes to applaud ten encores. Once we played an encore, "Polovtsian Dances" by A. Borodin. 18 minutes encore. We performed in the main halls of these countries. It is important; because it could be outlaying districts. Once after performance in Barcelona, ​​we returned to Madrid. And Queen Sofia visited our concert. There was an appointment after the concert. This is evidence that people are interested of us.


 - The most memorable performance?


 - We were in the south of France in Nimes. We played Verdi's “Requiem”. It was in 1995. Our performance was in the Coliseum (11000 seats). Elton John performed before us. He gathered nine thousand audience. We performed two days later. Three thousand tickets were sold at our concert, and four thousand for the last hour. Thus, at the Verdi's “Requiem” we have gathered seven thousand audience(s?) in July, at the heat. And in what was the shock? Requiem is ending in complete silence, and there is no applause, there is nothing. I was thinking what happening? And suddenly I heard a rustle. I looked around and saw that seven thousand people rises in silence, and … a hailstorm of applause.


 - And what audience is most classic?


- The most complicated audience was in 1993. The orchestra “Ukraine” had a concert tour in Italy and Croatia. What is the sense of complicating? The war in Croatia, Zagreb is defeated, the front line in 15 km. And Tchaikovsky Festival is in Zagreb. We are closing this festival. The audience all in diamonds is sitting on a specially built summer arena. I raise my hands to conduct the 40th symphony by Mozart, and suddenly some whistling in the sky, like a sound of the falling shell. I can’t drop my hands. The sky is starry. The whole of audience is looking at the sky. And then was quiet and we started to play. But we moved rocked this audience first 15 minutes. The war is 15km from Zagreb and the people are filled with something. We would not catch them with the “chaff”. It was unexpected for us after Italy. They took us “on the tooth” about 20 minutes. And those 20 minutes were difficult.


- How did you become a person, who you are?


- Who I am, you can estimate only from the side, by what I would like to be I know only from inside. But I worked hard, set big goals. I created something all the time: orchestras, choirs, student vocal ensembles. We recorded phonograms for the Ukrainian Radio with them. I didn’t want to let down my parents. They’re well known musicians. Once my mother said: “If will you learn out of five it’ll be better to drop your studies”. It was the first incitement. And then it already came into a passion. And when it is obtaining there is a greater passion.


 - Are you a gambling-prone person?


 -I think yes, exactly in this case.


 - Do you have time for something else except rehearsals, concerts, tours?


- People ask me: what do you do after work?


- I answer: I do work. If the work was burden to me it would be a tragedy. I can conduct until two o’clock and go home and do nothing more. But I'm leaving at 10 pm. I had to build office, to gather managers, to do everything for its operating.


 - So, you're managing.


 - I have to do it, even though every conductor’s dream -only to conduct.


 - Vladimir, may you be called a happy man?


 - I hope so.