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Organist Jacobus Gladziwa: “This is what we can do! Bringing hope to people”

Great Germany organist Jacobus Gladziwa will play a rechital in Lviv Organ Hall on Ferbruary 2 and 3. It will be the second performance of a musician in support of the Ukrainian people during the Russian-Ukrainian war.

This time, a virtuoso from Germany will perform Mykhailo Shukh's "Silent Prayer", Bach's chorales, two scherzos by Kuschero and Bruckner, and the Guilmant`s Sonata. We had spoken with Jakobus about his life and performance in this interview.

Jakobus, thanks a lot for your arrangement to play again in Lviv! Your support of Ukrainians is very important for us. We also know that your wife is Ukrainian. Can you tell our readers the story of meeting your wife?

We met in Krakow. I had a concert there. This is how music connects people…

I grow and grow also more in Ukrainian culture: food, and customs and I can even speak a little Ukrainian now…

So, in your opinion, what new things about Ukrainian music and culture did Europeans get to know during the period of this war?

I think first of all we need to see, what we as musicians and artists can give society. And this is in my opinion how we can bring a lot to other people: an attitude to love, freedom, and creativity. During these times we discuss a lot about whether art can be political. I think it`s important to say, we can not use music for something. In history, it had happened many times. You had in Lviv Organ Hall this festival with forbidden music from Europe in 2021. So this is one of the examples. Music should not be political. But we can change people if they want. I am optimistic, that the mind of freedom, individuality, and humanism will win. Otherwise, it is like furniture - just nice. So I am very glad and surprised to discover a lot of good new music now during these times from Ukraine. I got also some very interesting contacts with composers from Ukraine. For me, this is exciting to discover a lot about the culture of Ukraine which was under the surface.

You played a brilliant concert last year. We have memorable moments about it! How did you decide to risk getting to Ukraine again?

Last year it was a great atmosphere and the audience. I was deeply moved, even the air alarm was. People are hungry for culture and concerts. So I felt needed here. Here the audience and the country are young, I want to support this and even in this situation during the war.

You always choose Ukrainian pieces for your performance.

Tell us about the choice of “Silent prayer” by Mykhailo Shukh.

Albert Schweitzer, the French organist wrote: “Prayers can not change the world, but prayers change people and people are changing this world”. This quotation came to my mind when I read the Title of Mykhailo Shukh`s piece. This is what we can do! Bringing hope to people.

How did you decide to become an organist? What organ music means for you?

When I was young I was singing in the boy's choir in my hometown Aachen. I was every time fascinated when we sang in services, fascinated by the sound of the organ. Then I began playing the piano and later I played also the organ. It's amazing, what sound and energy can make just a single person. And also the famous quotation by Franck „ Mon orgue, c’est un orchestre!“ (the organ is my orchestra) grew into one of my favorite quotations. So I think it is just fantastic to produce powerful sound with this instrument. A symbiosis between mechanics and instruments. But you need to know, that you form the sound, otherwise is just a big machine…

For me, as a church musician, the organ has of course to do also with transcendence. Widor said: “Playing the organ means manifesting a will filled with the sight of eternity. This is also about the program, between Bruckner, Bach, and Guilmant”.

Text by Diana Kolomoyets

Foto by Jacobus Gladziwa and Eugene Chervony

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