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Songs for Ukraine VIII
A Case for Magical Thinking
“She believed in magic—the magic of places, the magic of people, the magic of coincidences, serendipity, and fortune.” - Jamie Le Fay
The lighting in the video I was watching was dull, casting a blue-gray tint over everything but the bright white spotlights shining directly into the camera’s eye. The performance space was small and cluttered with music stands, folding chairs, and a grand piano. The high, arched ceilings were vaguely reminiscent of a cathedral that had been down-sized to fit a dollhouse.
The audience, seated at two long tables (one on either side of the space) looked a bit like a jury - watching and evaluating the lone musician as he wandered onto the set, looking around as if he wasn’t sure where he was going or what he was there to do. Then he looked down, discovered a clarinet beneath a cloth on a chair, and picked it up. Seemingly puzzled, he began to play with it. Not play it, but play with it - examining it from all sides, tapping the wide mouth against the palm of his hand, then sliding his hands up the long, slender body and blowing tentatively into the mouthpiece.
To say I found this piece (entitled “Incantation of Clarinet”) puzzling at first would be an understatement. But I’d spoken to its creator, Anna Stoianova, enough to know that she is both musically gifted and exceptionally creative. When I asked about what was going on, she replied, “I was thinking about it as a magic ritual. In the beginning, he is investigating the instrument but doesn’t know what to do. But the moment he blows into the mouthpiece the magic begins - he creates music. I used all kinds of different performance techniques to show how he was exploring and learning. Then in the end he goes back to gently hitting the mouth of the clarinet against his palm. It’s like a flashback. He has realized what Socrates said was true: ‘I know that I know nothing.’”
As I said, exceptionally talented and creative.
Turning Magical Thinking Into Magical Music
Anna describes her music as grounded in emotion. “When I compose, it’s mainly from my heart.” A graduate of the prestigious Stolyarsky school of music, with a Ph.D. in Music Arts from Odesa Music Academy, she is well aware of the rules that govern music composition, but will often ignore them. “For me,” she says, “it’s more important to express what I am feeling.”
Not surprisingly, the process Anna uses to compose begins within herself. “I hear some music inside me, and it can last for days,” she says. “Then I try to write down what I hear and see how it sounds outside my head. Once I have something I like, I think about the form and genre. Once the framework is built, I look at the piece as a whole, with a focus on the last bars - the last notes - of the piece, which sum up the main idea.”
But while capturing and bringing her own ideas to life in music is important to Anna, she also wants her listeners to discover what it means for them. “When people listen to my music, I don’t want them to seek for what I put into it, but to concentrate on what it could be for them - to free their minds and listen with their hearts.”
”The Russian attack changed my life and the lives of all the people I am closest to. My parents seem to have aged a lifetime, and I feel broken every day. We are still lucky to have our home and all our relatives, but we know many who are suffering. The future is completely up in the air. We cannot plan anything.
“My friends and I are doing our best to help our country. Some are in the military. Some, like myself, volunteer. The biggest challenge for me now is simply trying to live with this uncertainty and fear.”
It’s very important for people all around the world to be active, to do whatever they can do to help put an end to this senseless war:
a) Donate money to help Ukrainian refugees and our army.
b) Read and share factual news on social media and other platforms.
c) Go to marches and protests to show support for Ukraine.
d) Appeal to politicians and governments to send more supplies and weapons. Ask them to impose stricter sanctions on Russia, and help evacuate our people.
e) Talk to people around you and explain to them what is happening.
People must understand that this is not some local conflict. It is all-out war on the Ukrainian people and could become a World War III if we don’t stop Russia now.
A Bit About Anna
Anna was born and raised in Odesa, Ukraine - a major seaport located in the southeast portion of the country along the Black Sea - Anna’s father is Bulgarian and her mother is Russian. However, she considers herself Ukrainian. “Odesa is my city and I love it very much,” she says. Her love of music was ignited by her father. Her mother began teaching her when she was six. “The idea of becoming a musician began with my father. He loves music very much. But when I grew older, I realized that I wanted to be a composer. Sometimes I would just sit at the piano and improvise. I play piano (she studied piano in school), and it is my favorite instrument. It contains all orchestra possibilities.”
To learn more about Anna and hear more of her music, follow the link below.
Anna can be reached via Instagram or Facebook:
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Copyright 2022 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.