Roman Hurko

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Roman Hurko is a Toronto based composer of Byzantine Rite Music


Roman Hurko is a Canadian of Ukrainian descent, born in Toronto, Canada (1962). A graduate of The Yale Institute of Sacred Music (Master of Arts and Religion) and The University of Toronto (B.A. Music History and Theory), he has also studied privately with composer Father Ivan Moody in Portugal and Leonid Hrabovsky in New York.

A member of the Composers' Union of Ukraine since 2004, Roman began writing music while still in high school. His first composition "Ave Maria" for SATB choir was premiered by the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir, at the Guelph Spring Festival in 1983, with the composer conducting.

In the summers of 1983 and 1985 he attended choral conducting seminars led by Maestro Volodymyr Kolesnyk, former director of the National Opera of Ukraine. In the fall of 1985, he co-founded the St. Evtymyj Youth Choir at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Toronto. Roman soon began setting parts of the liturgy for his choir, and in 1999 decided to complete and record the entire Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom to commemorate the second millennium of Christianity (Liturgy 2000).

In tandem with his compositional work, Roman has built a career in Opera Stage Direction. A former member of the Canadian Opera Company (COC) ensemble, he worked as staff assistant director at the COC from 1988 - 93. After freelancing as an assistant director in Europe and the US (Royal Opera Covent Garden, Salzburg Festival, De Nederlands Opera, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Teatro de la Zarzuela, The Washington Opera,) he made his stage directing debut in 1996 at the Spoleto Festival (Italy) with Handel's Semele. Also at Spoleto, he co-directed Prokofiev's War and Peace together with festival founder and composer, Gian Carlo Menotti. Most recently, he directed Mozart's Don Giovanni and Wagner's The Flying Dutchman at the Vancouver Opera.

During this period he also composed the incidental music for two plays with the Yara Arts Group at La Mama Experimental Theater Club in New York City: A Light From the East (1991) and Explosions (1993).

Mr. Hurko has composed and recorded four major pieces of sacred music: Liturgy 2000, Panachyda/Requiem for the Victims of Chornobyl (2001), Liturgy No.2 (2003), and Vespers (2005). Liturgy 2000 was premiered in Chicago by the Schola Cantorum of St. Peter the Apostle, conducted by J. Michael Thompson, at Sts. Volodymyr and Olha's Ukrainian Catholic Church on July 14, 2000. Requiem/Panachyda, dedicated to the victims of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, received its premiere at St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in Kiev, on April 26, 2001 (the 15th anniversary of the disaster), with the composer conducting the Frescoes of Kiev Chamber Choir. A subsequent recording of the Requiem received its broadcast debut in April 2003 on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio 2 programme "Choral Concert".

Selections from Liturgy No. 2 were given their North American premiere by the Elmer Iseler Singers at concerts in Ottawa and Toronto. In September 2005, Vespers was premiered in Kiev's Pecherska Lavra (Monastery of the Caves) by the Vydubychi Church Chorus, as the opening concert to the 16th KievFest International Music Festival.

On April 9, 2006, Requiem was performed in concert at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall by the combined: Elmer Iseler Singers, Orpheus Choir, Amadeus Choir, the Vesnivka Women's Choir, and the Ukrainian Male Chamber Choir in a concert to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster. This concert was subsequently broadcast on April 26 (the 20th anniversary of the disaster) on the CBC Radio 2 programme: "In Performance", and again on Sunday, May 14 on "Choral Concert".

Many of Mr. Hurko's recordings have received their US broadcast premiere on Princeton Radio's "Classical Discoveries" program (103.3 FM), hosted by Marvin Rosen. Most recently, Roman has become involved in a series of recordings entitled "The Ukrainian Art Song Project" as producer. The goal of the project is to record the complete art songs of Ukraine's major composers. Volume 1 of the series, The Complete Art Songs of Kyrylo Stetsenko (1882 - 1922) was recorded during the summer of 2006 by Pavlo Hunka, Bass and Albert Krywolt, piano. Also featured on the recording are Russell Braun, Baritone and Benjamin Butterfield, tenor. The recording was launched on September 14, 2006 at the new Four Season's Opera House in Toronto. Recording for the Volume 2, The Complete Art Songs of Mykola Lysenko (1842 - 1912) has been completed and is scheduled for release in early 2010. The Art Songs of Yakiv Stepovyj will begin recording in July 2009.

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