The masterful pianist and creator of “continuous piano music” returns to Copenhagen. ALICE is happy to present a special night with the incredible Ukrainian musician and composer Lubomyr Melnyk in the stunning space of Christian’s Church. No doubt a fitting space for the overtone rich music of Melnyk.
Born in Ukraine in 1948, Lubomyr Melnyk fell for the piano at an early age. Given lessons as a young child after his family emigrated to Canada after the iron curtain came down, he was immediately transfixed by the possibilities of the instrument. After studying classical piano and graduating with a degree in Latin and Philosophy from St Paul’s College in Winnipeg, in the early 1970s Melnyk found himself in Paris. Homeless and in desperate need of money, he supported himself by accompanying dance lessons for a company run by the experimental choreographer Carolyn Carlson. The experience became a kind of epiphany: watching Carlson’s dancers, he began to play a new kind of music, spontaneous and improvisatory – responding not to rigid classical conventions but the dance he saw unfolding. Using the sustain pedal to create echo and reverb, he transformed free-flowing cascades of notes into hypnotic waves of sound. Eventually he found a name for this new style: ‘continuous music’, which he uses to this day.
Critics have detected the influence of Ravi Shankar and other Indian styles in Melnyk’s music, along with the insistent, repetitive textures of minimalist pioneers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Melnyk himself cites his debt to the American composer Terry Riley, particularly the legendary 1964 work ‘In C’, which he says “opened the world for me”. But he adds that if you listen carefully, you’ll also be able to hear the lilting contours of traditional Ukrainian folk music.
Lubomyr Melnyk has visited Copenhagen several times in recent years, everytime mesmerizing the audience with his otherworldly music. He is widely regarded as a visionary musician. Drowned in Sound wrote about his 2018 album “Fallen Trees”: “This, like the other excellent records he has given us since his belated emergence into the global limelight, is a work of quiet – but nonetheless defiant – beauty from a true great of contemporary classical music, who we must all continue to cherish for as long as we can. Essential.”