Ukraine Benefit Organ Concert

Cunningham Piano and Allen Organ will be sponsoring a special fundraiser concert event for Ukrainian Refugee Relief featuring organist Gail Archer on Sunday, September 11, 2022 3 pm at the Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, located at 830 N. Franklin St., Philadelphia, PA

This concert will be free and open to the public, and will be simultaneously livestreamed.

All donations will go to Ukrainian relief for refugees in Poland. Donate today at:

Sponsored by:

  • The Southeaster PA Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
  • Allen Organs
  • and Cunningham Piano Company


Fanfare Bohdan Kotyuk


Benedictus: Song of Zachariah Bohdan Kotyuk

Piece in Five Movements Tadeusz Machl


Fantasia Victor Goncharenko

(b. 1959)

Passacaglia Mykola Kolessa

(1903 –2006)

Chacona Svitlana Ostrova

(b. 1961)

Fantasie Iwan Kryschanowskij


Program Notes

In July, 2018, my summer concert tour took me to the city of Chernivtsi, in the Ukraine. In many Eastern European cities, the organs are found in chamber music halls associated with the philharmonic orchestra in each city. In Chernivtsi, the organ hall is the Armenian Catholic Church, a distinguished building designed by Josef Hlavka, who was the architect of the Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Chernivtsi. The organ, built by the Rieger-Kloss firm, was paid for by the philharmonic, but is used for worship by the religious community. This recording is the second in a series that began with my Russian Journey release in 2017, a long-term project which explores the organ literature of Eastern Europe, little known in the West.

I am grateful to my Ukrainian colleagues, organist Olenka Matseliukh and composer Bohdan Kotyuk, for their assistance in sending me many scores by contemporary Ukrainian musicians. I would also like to acknowledge the support of Barnard College, Columbia University and the Harriman Institute, Columbia University for the generous grants that made this recording project possible. The recording engineer who joined me in Chernivtsi, Brian Losch, was patient, supportive and tireless during the two days we worked together in early morning and late night sessions. My thanks are also extended to Svetlana Plish and her staff at the organ hall, especially organist Elena Udras and Alexander Domino.

The only composer on the program born in the nineteenth century is Ivan Kryschanowskij (1867-1924) A native of Kiev, he studied both music and medicine and was successful in both careers. He completed studies with Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, a member of the Russian Five, at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1909. Rimsky-Korsakov was Igor Stravinsky’s teacher, as well, but Stravinsky left us no organ music. Kryschanowskij’s Fantasie gives the organist an opportunity to explore the dense chromaticism, rhythmic complexity and constantly shifting texture and color of early twentieth century Eastern European orchestral music.

Mykola Kolessa (1903-2006) was born in Sambir, near Lviv, to a musical family; his father, Filaret Kolessa, was an ethnomusicologist and composer. Mykola’s studies took him to Prague, where he graduated from the Prague Conservatory (1928) and received an advanced degree from its School of Master Artists (1931). A fine teacher, he worked at the Lysenko Higher Institute of Music (1931–9) and then at the Lviv Conservatory, which he later headed as rector (1953–65). Kolessa wrote two organ works, a Prelude and Fugue (1978) and the Passacaglia (1929). A tonal composer, he employs an original chromaticism, thick chords juxtaposed with rapid running figures and double pedaling, demanding technical precision from the performer.

Tadeusz Machl (1922-2003) was both an organist and composer. Born and trained in Lviv, he served as organist at St. Elizabeth Cathedral in his native city. After the Second World War, he moved to Szczecin, and then to Cracow, Poland. In the 1950’s, Machl received a scholarship that allowed him to travel to Paris to study the music of contemporary French composers. His organ works include seven organ concertos and 22 solo organ pieces, as well as a Requiem for mezzo-soprano, baritone, mixed choir and organ (1981). The Piece in Five Movements is a late work influenced by the organ improvisational techniques Machl observed in Paris. There is a freedom in these short pieces that allows for creative interpretation while balancing the duplet against triplet figures that appear in both hands and pedal passages. While the movements conclude with a major or minor harmony, the ambiguity of Machl’s harmonic language demands acute listening on the part of the performer in order to bring out the spare beauty of these musical miniatures.

Bohdan Kotyuk (b.1951) comes from a family of distinguished Ukrainian religious leaders and philosophers, including Archbishop Samuel Cyryl Stefanowicz (1755 – 1858), Julian Tselevych (1843 – 1892), Ivan Huhlevych, and Hryhoriy Yarema. Trained at the Lviv Conservatory, Bohdan combined his interests in religion and philosophy with musical analysis and composition.
Many of his organ works are directly influenced by the Mass and bear titles that suggest their appropriate use in a service of worship: Sanctus, Benedictus, Alleluia, Laudatis. The Benedictus is an introspective and reflective piece which is inspired by the Song Of Zechariah in Luke 1: 67, in which Zechariah praises God for the birth of his son, John the Baptist, who will become a prophet foretelling the coming of the Messiah. The subtle dialogue between hands and pedals is comprised of brief, unexpected gestures that create a light, crisp texture. In contrast, the Fanfare alternates between triplet and duplet figures in conversation with one another from alternating keyboards of the organ.

Viktor Goncharenko (b. 1959) hails from the city of Dnipro. He studied composition with Vitaliy Kieyko at the Kiev Conservatory from which he graduated in 1983. Today, he is active as a music editor and computer modeling specialist for various publishers in Kiev, including Music Ukraine, SAN, Kovydav and Careta. His interest in organ music dates back to his student years, but more recently, he has composed several organ fantasies, a prelude and fugue, dialogues for organ and piano and a chaconne. The second Fantasia has an ABA structure and an entirely irregular metric scheme. The inner accompaniment, built of fourths and fifths, gives both an ancient and modern sound to the opening and concluding sections. The central section moves twice as fast as the rest of the piece and has a thicker texture with full chords. Both the first and last sections conclude with a charming staccato melody which is doubled two octaves lower with legato articulation in the left hand.

Svitlana Ostrova’ (b. 1961) studied choral conducting, composition and organ at the Music Academy in Kiev, where she was born and raised. An author of methodological texts and devoted music educator, she teaches at children’s music schools and directs a vocal ensemble in Kiev, Shchedrivochka, which promotes both traditional Classical music and music by contemporary composers. Her works for organ include the Symphony of Creation and Diptych: Golgotha and Eucharist. The Chaconne in this program has four short sections: a simple presentation of the theme in block chords, an improvisatory variation in sixteenth notes, a triplet version of the theme, and a final chromatic version with an elegant flourish to the top of the keyboard at the conclusion.

The richness and variety of the Ukrainian organ literature deserves international attention, as the beauty and vital creative spirit in this music inspires and rewards the performer as well as the listener. It is my sincere hope that many people will take the journey to Chernivtsi, and come away refreshed, renewed and ever more curious about the musical arts in Eastern Europe today. - Gail Archer

About The Artist

Gail Archer is an international concert organist, recording artist, choral conductor and lecturer who draws attention to composer anniversaries or musical themes with her annual recital series including Max Reger, The Muse's Voice, An American Idyll, Liszt, Bach, Mendelssohn and Messiaen. Ms. Archer was the first American woman to play the complete works of Olivier Messiaen for the centennial of the composer's birth in 2008; Time Out New York recognized the Messiaen cycle as "Best of 2008" in classical music and opera. Her recordings include her September, 2017 CD A Russian Journey and The Muse's Voice, Franz Liszt: A Hungarian Rhapsody, Bach: The Transcendent Genius, An American Idyll, A Mystic In the Making (Meyer Media), and The Orpheus of Amsterdam: Sweelinck and his Pupils (CALA Records). Ms. Archer's 2019 European tour will take her to the British Isles, Italy, Spain, the Ukraine, Poland, Russian and Malta. Highlights include the St. Giles Cathedral Edinburgh, Scotland, the Basilica of Loyola, San Sebastian, Spain, St. Mary’s Church, Cracow, Poland, Holy Cross Church, Lublin, Poland, the Philharmonic of Lviv, the Ukraine and the Lutheran Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, Moscow, Russia. She is the founder of Musforum, an international network for women organists to promote and affirm their work. Ms. Archer is college organist at Vassar College, a faculty member of Harriman Institute of Columbia University, and director of the music program at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she conducts the Barnard-Columbia Chorus and Chamber Singers.