MUSICAL HUGS
How Ivano-Frankivsk Came Together to Make Music
The idea behind the "Musical hugs" project aiming at the creation of a culture of music in Ivano-Frankivsk was conceived during a workshop for cultural managers led by Culture Bridges and NGO Insha Osvita.

Project coordinator, cultural manager and representative of the NGO D. O. M. 48.24 Nataliya Nalivko and co-organizer, musicologist and keyboardist for the indie band Physalisovi Dmitry Dolhikh-Chernysh tell about the mini-grant their organisation won from Culture Bridges and how it helped them bring their plans to fruition and about the project's impact on the city.
Nataliya Nalivko
Project coordinator, cultural manager and representative of the NGO D. O. M. 48.24
Dmytro Dolhikh-Chernysh
co-organizer, musicologist and keyboardist for the indie band Physalisovi
Key figures involved in the project
22

events
3

months
640

visitors
Nata: We held master classes, music lectures, concerts with guest soloists and local young musicians, led excursions to a recording studio, a DJ school, offered studies on integrated musical development methodology (IMD), held jam-sessions, a playback-theatre performance, and a mixed-genre concert with musicians, poets and actors. We also opened a music room and visited a rehabilitation centre for children from disadvantaged families where we held classes on percussion and IMD.

Here you can listen to the lecture by Dmitry Dolhikh-Chernysh about Ukrainian folk rock yesterday and today, and here - a lecture by Natalia Nalivko on how to distinguish a liar from a pro in music (both recordings are in Ukrainian)
Studies on integrated musical development methodology
About the most important events
Our initial secret concert got a lot of buzz going among the guest musicians, among the local culture crowd and even among those who just wanted "to see what this was all about".
Dima: I'd separate my answer into three parts because each one was instructive and valuable in its own way. First off, opening the Music Room (25 February) where we got a sense of how an event should be run even though this was more of an impassioned exercise in the art of "shake, rattle and roll"! We got the impression that some adults, even more excited than the children, were gripped by some external force. It was a release of energy that was difficult to moderate.

Secondly, there was our initial secret concert that got a lot of buzz going among the guest musicians, among the local culture crowd and even among those who just wanted "to see what this was all about". The location – now a hostel – resulted in a really atmospheric event that spurred a lot of requests for more performances of this type.

Finally, there was Max Tavrichesky's concert. His musical set and his performance left everybody there with goosebumps. No matter whether teen or adult pining for the old days and the sounds of the Doors or Ozzy Osborne or some classic blues.

Nata: I can't point to any one event because each one was so interesting and unique. I'd like to talk, however, about the training sessions in the Rehab Centre for Children from disadvantaged families. We didn't promote this the way we did with other events because it wasn't really a public gathering and didn't want to violate their privacy. But now, after I've been there with those kids, I've changed my mind. We need to take every opportunity to speak publicly about the reality these kids face. Only by attracting attention to their situation can we create a positive effect and promote change.

When we got there for the first time and saw the sadness in them, in their eyes, we were determined to bring a smile to their faces. And that's what we managed to do. That, in itself, is what made the lesson.
Engaging the audience
Nata: Our audience included everyone from one-year-olds to senior citizens, professional musicians, students from the Institute of Culture, and many who had never had any involvement with music.

We're happy with the result. The questionnaire about the audience feedback that Culture Bridges required helped us analyse the organisation of each event, motivating and inspiring us to keep going. The public begged us to keep it up, writing things like "this has revived the city" and "it was so cool!" and of course, there were lots of responses that indicated they would be happy to come to any future events. Following the concert by Ivano-Frankivsk's Physalisovi, Ukrainian writer Yuri Andrukhovich told us that he'd never heard anything like it in Ivano-Frankivsk and that at the Vagabundo Art Space – where we held the concert - the doors would always be open to this group.

Here you can listen to the Physalisovi concert
Opening the Music Room
About the variety of instruments
Nata: With grant funds we were able to purchase percussion instruments – djembe, shakers, tambourines, xylophones, drums, maracas, triangles and others. These are an easy way to start making music - you just need to possess a basic sense of rhythm. It's a simple, effective way to allow those who have never laid hands on a music instrument to gain that experience.

We store our musical instruments in the newly formed music room at the HOME creative space now open to the public. Anyone who wants to come and try out the instruments is welcome!
About the search for musicians
Nata: In our analysis of the situation that obtains in Ivano-Frankivsk, already during our project planning stage we had decided to invite representatives from alternative disciplines – indie music, blues, electric violin instructors, harmonica players, creators of modern musical methodologies – in an attempt to show the diversity within the musical world and present it all in a non-traditional, informal way.

Dmytro was all over the issue of locating local performers. Nine of them would give secret concerts – a concert in an intimate, unannounced location that is only revealed a day before the concert and where that evening's performers are announced right before they go on stage.
The first secret concert
To choose musicians we needed for our events we had to listen to about 200 hundred performers who called Ivano-Frankivsk or its surroundings their home
Dima: Musicians were selected using the most democratic method currently available: Soundcloud. It's a great resource and helped us focus on artists with some local connection. It's also an excellent way to get the music you write out to the public. So, to choose musicians we needed for our events we had to listen to about 200 hundred performers who called Ivano-Frankivsk or its surroundings their home. We looked for potential headliners for solo evening concerts that would both fit our budget and would focus on acoustic performance. That left us with 15-20 candidates chosen "by ear".
The third secret concert
About potential challenges for those looking to implement similar initiatives
1
Public inertia
Our Ukrainian public has an extremely difficult time showing enthusiasm for a performer. Listeners are hesitant to groove to the music if they're not watching somebody who's already a YouTube star with millions of views, regular radio play or some other obvious signs of success. Our audience struggles to "fall in love at first sight".
2
The Free-of-Charge Problem
On the one hand, a free event is usually perceived as something of low-quality, not worthy of attention. On the other, people here are reluctant to pay for art because it's not clear ahead of time what it is and there's this perception that "artists" are just lazy dreamers.

So, by settling on a worthwhile if not yet popular musical niche we ran into a lot of people who responded half-heartedly – they filled out the registration page but didn't make the event for one reason or another.
3
Cutting-edge thinking required
An organiser generally wants to produce an event that's welcoming and special for everyone who takes part. You also tend to come across certain unexpected benefits even in situations where you're forced to go to "Plan B". For instance, the filming of our secret concerts and the sudden need to shift the venue for two events – both are vivid examples of ingenuity that arose from hopeless situations.
Playback-theatre performance
About the search for musicians
Nata: With a grant from Teple Misto we're developing gradually and have acquired additional musical instruments. We're looking to conduct collective percussion lessons this summer for children and adults and organise music camps. We already have already long experience in organising creative evenings for talented youth where they perform, communicate, improvise, and form new bands. We have a unique creative workshop going and dream of setting up a music hub with rehearsal space. We're also working hard to expand our assortment of musical instruments and hold a music festival for young performers.

Personally, I'd love to visit the music festival in Ostrava in July and the music hub in Katowice, Poland as part of the international mobility programme and bring back all those new experiences and contacts, and while I'm there, convince other event organisers to come and work with us in Ivano-Frankivsk.
Photo: Musical Hugs
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