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Songs 4 Ukraine XVIII
And when the broken-hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be.” - Paul McCartney
My first exposure to Malinich Andrii (Andrey Sarabanda) was a YouTube video of his performance in “Stimmen*” a mono-opera about the psychic wounds that resulted from World War II. Based on the poetry of Paul Celan, a German poet perhaps best known for his poem “Fugue of Death,” the opera opens with Malinich staggering onto the stage with his arms akimbo and his legs and feet barely able to carry him to the chair in front of the audience. His head is tilted at an odd, clearly uncomfortable angle, and a trickle of blood runs from the side of his mouth.
When he reaches the chair, Sarabanda collapses, arms hanging between his legs, and stares off into the distance as if too tired to do anything but breathe. After a long, tense moment, he straightens and begins to sing in a deep, resonate baritone but continues to move like a broken marionette. The piano, which is played internally by plucking the strings (as opposed to playing the keys) adds to the painful dissonance and arrhythmia. It is an extraordinary but disturbing performance, and certainly not what I was expecting when his music was recommended to me.
Malinich later explained what he was attempting to embody, describing his character as “...a broken wooden doll who can't do anything about the craziness in the world or his part in it. He even tries to kill himself but can't. Humanity is sick, broken, and living in fear because of war. The story is a circle,” he adds. “The people think they are creating something better - making a better life - but they are making the same mistakes over and over.”
That’s when I begin to understand. “It’s a bit like what is happening in Ukraine right now, isn’t it?” I ask.
“Yes, kind of,” he agrees. “It’s impossible to say something about what’s happening in Ukraine without talking about feelings - about how deeply the war is touching us.”
Lest you get the wrong impression about this remarkable 28-year-old artist, who not only writes and performs songs, but composes, produces, and acts in operas, and is an accomplished pianist as well, let’s take a step back to talk about his brief history on the planet.
Malinich’s, also known as Andrey Sarabanda on social media, was born in Odesa, Ukraine to a family of four - his parents, a younger brother, and himself. Although interested in a wide variety of subjects, including philosophy, linguistics, architecture, and sports, music has been the driving force in Malinich's life. “I was always singing as a kid,” he says, “but it wasn’t until I was ten that I got up the courage to attend music school.”
Once started, however, there was no denying Malinich’s precocious musical gifts. “I sang as a soloist in the choir, studied music theory, and discovered I had a knack for classical composition. I wrote my first composition at the age of thirteen. That’s pretty late when compared to Mozart,” he adds with a laugh.
Malinich has been fortunate to study with a composition instructor he calls his “spiritual mother.” She exposed him to both a wide variety of music and all aspects of what it means to be a musician. “She insisted I learn both sides of music, “ Malinich says, “music creation and performance.”
Today, Malinich describes himself as an opera singer who dabbles in other genres and enjoys playing piano, organ, and cembalo in his spare time. “I like to sing as a soloist, performing rock, classical, and opera pieces. I also enjoy mono-operas in which I am both the singer and the director. When I can, I like to take part in different kinds of concerts such as baroque, modern, and academic music festivals in Ukraine.” To say Malinich lives and breathes music would be an understatement.
In recent months, Malinich has been working as a singer and pianist at Odesa Philharmonic and at the Odesa Municipal Theatre where he takes part in "Creative Power," an initiative that brings musicians from a variety of musical organizations together to play in support of the Ukrainian army.
Prior to the start of the war, he was composing new music, drawing inspiration from his dreams, where he says he “...travels to many places. I don’t need any drugs,” he laughs. “I’ve been able to remember my dreams since childhood.” To date, he has written operas, symphonic pieces, and many pieces of vocal-instrumental chamber music. He’s also created vocal and instrumental pieces with the bandura.
But since the Russian invasion and attacks on Ukraine, Malinich has struggled to find a way to express what he’s been experiencing. “Since the start of the war three months ago - since you heard the first explosions and learned of the first deaths - I’ve gradually become empty. Not so much because of fear but because of depression. Yes, I’m working and I’m lucky that my family and I are alive. But the thing that I cannot understand is why anyone would want to kill a person because they are different. No, we are not the same, we are all different, and to be different is ok.
“Anyway, I can’t express the horror I’ve been feeling in my music yet. I have lots of plans for the future but it will take time to heal and grieve - to find the music to say what I want to say. So for now, I’m trying to express my feelings in music that already exists - music I can throw myself into and just sing.”
* Stimmen - The primary sense of the word implies the outward tuning of voices or instruments and the inward tuning of one's soul.
To experience more of Malinich’s music, visit:
To learn more about the “Creative Power” initiative and their ongoing live concerts online, visit their director Iryna Tymakh’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lanzheron2014
or their YouTube Channel - Odesa Online
Copyright 2022 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.