Ukrainian musician Oksana Nikitiuk's busy life in Latvia

Ukrainian musician Oksana Nikitiuk, who has been away from her homeland for two years, calls music, the friends she has made in Latvia and like-minded people her sources of strength. Latvian Radio spoke to the accomplished artist February 23 about her life and music in Latvia.

Nikitiuk is a singer, conductor, and musicologist. In Latvia, too, she has the opportunity to work in her profession. She sings in the State Academic Choir "Latvija", works as a concertmaster in the Ikšķile Mixed Choir, and collaborates with other Latvian musicians. This Sunday she will give a duet with pianist Herta Hansena in the concert "Sunflower Road" at Liepāja's concert hall "Great Amber".

"The first part will be Ukrainian, the second part - Latvian music. The second part will also include the premiere of Līva Blūma's vocal cycle, which is a very interesting symbiosis of Ukrainian and Latvian music. She has woven together Latvian and Ukrainian melodies and lyrics, they flow into each other and sound very natural," said the musician. Latvian Radio met Oksana Nikitiuk at the Academy of Music. She has just finished rehearsals for Sunday's concert "Sunflower Road", where she will perform with pianist Herta Hansena.

As she says herself, she is very grateful to God that she can work in her profession in Latvia and be as sought after as in Ukraine.

Although her longing for her homeland is not going away, she tries not to plan any specific time when she will return to Ukraine permanently, knowing how uncertain and insecure the situation still is.

In Latvia, she is strengthened by music, the support of the Latvian people, and the beautiful opportunity to share the richness of our two cultures with each other, Nikitiuk says.

She appreciates very much the opportunity to work together with our great conductor Māris Sirmais and to get to know Latvian choir culture in general. She also recognizes that the sound of Latvian choirs is different from that of Ukrainian choirs:

"Latvians have a smooth and clear sound, which is a special mark of your recognition. The Ukrainians have a much more massive sound, maybe not as precise, but massive and very rich in timbre. This probably reflects the mentality of each nation," said Nikitiuk.

"But Latvia, of course, with its very well-developed and strong choral traditions, is a true professional paradise for any choral artist. I appreciate it very much that I can both sing in a choir and work as a concertmaster here," she added.

Oksana Nikitiuk has also made several recordings with Latvian musicians for Latvian Radio. These include a cycle of poetry by Taras Shevchenko by Ukrainian composer Oleg Kiva, recorded with the Sinfonietta Rīga chamber orchestra.

Oksana describes Kiva's cycle as deep and gorgeous music, which is as if created for her voice and fully corresponds to the feelings of Ukrainians currently separated from their homeland.

"There is Shevchenko's poetry, which he wrote when he was far away from his homeland and in which he expressed all his ardent longings. That is why these words are very close to many Ukrainians today," she said. "Over these two years, listening to other compatriots, I have come to realize how much we really love our country."

"It is not a poster patriotism, but we love very truly, with all our heart and soul. It is not by chance that we call Ukraine by the affectionate name 'Nenka', which means 'mommy' in Ukrainian," said Nikitiuk.

"We love Ukraine all the way - its land, nature, sky... the way cherry orchards bloom in Ukraine... both in our poetry and in real life, you can feel a great love for our country," said the musician.

This Sunday, February 25, Oksana Nikitiuk and Herta Hansena will perform at the concert "Sunflower Road", which will unite Ukrainian and Latvian music and will take place in Liepāja's concert hall Great Amber.

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