Invasion: Music and Art for Ukraine

World Premiere recordings of works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lewis Spratlan featuring art by numerous Ukrainian artists.

Released worldwide on Reference Recordings on September 23, 2022

100% of proceeds donated to Ukraine humanitarian aid organizations.

If you would like to donate above the cost of the recording, you may do so through this Invasion Project Page on Razom for Ukraine

Donations are 100% tax deductable.

INTRODUCTIONS

Watching in horror as my home city of Kharkiv was being destroyed, I resolved to express through music my feelings of despair and anger, as well as hope and resilience. On my birthday in February 2022, the war started, Lewis Spratlan began writing INVASION, and the character of our plan for a CD of his works shifted. Positivity, defiance, perseverance, peace, nostalgia, recollections, and hope – all are displayed by the people in Ukraine, and all are reflected in the pieces on this disk. Even as all of us are comforted by timeless beauty, we are periodically reminded of the tragedy of the present. I commissioned Ukrainian artists to create paintings/artworks to use in this booklet and in the accompanying music videos, as their responses to the music. Also featured are drawings/artworks made by children in Kharkiv, as their responses to the war. Proceeds from this album will be donated to Ukraine humanitarian aid organizations. –Nadia Shpachenko

My collaboration with Nadia Shpachenko began seven years ago when she invited me to contribute a piece to the repertoire for the CD she was working on at the time. This disc was called The Poetry of Places and was concerned with the linkage between music and architecture. My piece, Bangladesh, was about the transformation brought about in that country by the construction of Louis Kahn’s brilliant Government Center. The CD went on to win a GRAMMY® Award. Nadia’s performance was spellbinding, combining the muscular portrayal of a collection of massive buildings with the subtlest rendering of tenderness and intimacy. This emotional range is what drew me so strongly to Nadia’s artistry. It is on full display in the five works of this CD. The monstrous cruelty of war in Invasion, the intricacy and athleticism in Piano Suite No. 1 and Two Sonatas, the humour and occasional violence in Six Rags, and the enveloping and multi-dimensional humanity of Wonderer show an artist in full command of the communicative power of music. –Lewis Spratlan

  • Invasion, composed in direct response to the war, is one of the first and most fascinating responses to events in Ukraine… a dream-like musical experience that looks into a cultural mirror… the layers are simultaneously like Kurt Weill cabaret, drummers marching to war, drunken slip-sliding, a pianist trying to compete with artillery shelling, and the resilience of music-hall song and dance in the face of a black midnight…

    Huntley Dent, Fanfare Magazine
  • This is certainly one of the first releases to reflect the war in Ukraine; it may go down ultimately as one of the richest and best, and it serves also as a reference for the remarkable late-life creativity of Spratlan…

    James Manheim All Music
  • (Invasion) An emotionally charged, boldly dissonant, intensely descriptive composition… Gratitude is due to Lewis Spratlan and to Nadia Shpachenko, soulmates against man’s inhumanity to man.

    Rafael de Acha, All About the Arts
  • Spratlan’s music is viscerally exciting, a sonic representation of (understandable) anxiety via a preponderance of gesture. The performance is as good as one could imagine… a terrific performance of a wonderful piece, it is worth hearing this disc for Wonderer alone…

    Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine
  • Invasion is an evocative and powerful musical snapshot of the war in Ukraine. Perhaps this is the opening movement of a work that will ultimately give us a heroic and victorious final ending.

    Paul Muller, Sequenza21
  • Using Scott Joplin as his foundation for Six Rags was genius. The results were purely original… He used Joplin-style rags within each of the six pieces. They could be blatant–and played with dynamic impetus by Ms. Shpachenko–or hidden amongst a forest of intervals.

    Harry Rolnick, Concertonet.com
  • Shpachenko’s playing is spectacular, constantly swinging from bravura flair to inward reflection as the music demands… The major piano work, at 20 minutes, is Wonderer… It is a scintillating tour de force… The overall effect of Wonderer is exhilarating and emotionally satisfying, to the point where I hope it joins the standard repertoire among contemporary pianists. Shpachenko’s reading is close to ideal in its variety, quick-wittedness, and tenderness… The outstanding contemporary-music disc of the year.

    Huntley Dent, Fanfare Magazine

Track Listing (all compositions by Lewis Spratlan):

[1] INVASION for piano, saxophone, horn, trombone, percussion, and mandolin
Recorded with Anthony Parnther, conductor; Pat Posey, saxophone; Aija Mattson-Jovel, horn; Phil Keen, trombone; Yuri Inoo, percussion; & Joti Rockwell, mandolin

[2-4] PIANO SUITE NO. 1 for solo piano

[5-10] SIX RAGS for solo piano

[11-12] TWO SONATAS for solo piano

[13] WONDERER for solo piano

TOTAL TIME: 75:47

Recorded on May 29 and June 22­-23, 2022 at Silent Zoo Studios, Glendale, CA
Producer: Lewis Spratlan
Recording Engineer: Patrick Dillon Curry
Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Sean Royce Martin
Piano: Steinway & Sons, Model D
Program Notes: Peter Yates
Art Director: JoAnn Nunes
Visual Artists: Yurii Nagulko, Lesia Babliak, Kati Prusenko, Olena Papka, Aza Nizi Maza Studio children artists, art direction by Mykola Kolomiyets
Cover Painting: Lesia Babliak, ”My beloved Ukraine,” from Yellow-­Blue Album of war art. March, 2022.

“Invasion: Music and Art for Ukraine” trailer

Live interview about “Invasion” album on Ukraine’s main TV Station 1+1

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Photo by Tom Zasadzinski

About Nadia Shpachenko

GRAMMY® Award-winning Ukrainian-American pianist Nadia Shpachenko enjoys bringing into the world things that are outside the box—powerful pieces that often possess unusual sonic qualities or instrumentation. Described as a “gifted and versatile pianist” (San Francisco Chronicle), “one of today’s foremost promoters of contemporary music” (Textura Magazine), and “a great friend and champion of new music” (Fanfare Magazine), Nadia performed recitals at Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall, on the Piano Spheres and Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella and Chamber Music Series, and with numerous orchestras in Europe and the Americas. An enthusiastic promoter of contemporary music, Shpachenko has premiered more than 100 works by composers including: Armando Bayolo, Elliott Carter, Christopher Cerrone, Paul Chihara, George Crumb, Ian Dicke, Daniel Felsenfeld, Tom Flaherty, Annie Gosfield, Yuri Ishchenko, Leon Kirchner, Dana Kaufman, Amy Beth, Kirsten Hannah Lash, James Matheson, Missy Mazzoli, Harold Meltzer, David Sanford, Isaac Schankler, Alexander Shchetynsky, Adam Schoenberg, Lewis Spratlan, Evan Ware, Gernot Wolfgang, Iannis Xenakis, Peter Yates, Pamela Z, and Jack Van Zandt, among others.

Nadia’s debut Reference Recordings album Woman at the New Piano: American Music of 2013 was nominated for the 58th GRAMMY® Awards in 3 categories. “Sure to remain a mainstay of the contemporary discography for posterity” (New Classic LA), Nadia’s 2018 Reference Recordings album Quotations and Homages features premieres of solo and collaborative works for 6 pianists (performed with Ray-Kallay Duo, HOCKET and Genevieve Feiwen Lee) inspired by a variety of earlier composers and pieces. Described as “superb… evocative… pure magic” (I Care If You Listen), Nadia’s 2019 Reference Recordings album The Poetry of Places features premieres of solo and collaborative works (performed with LA Phil pianist Joanne Pearce Martin and LAPQ percussionists Nick Terry and Cory Hills) inspired by diverse buildings. The Poetry of Places won the 62nd Best Classical Compendium GRAMMY® Award. She is also featured on José Serebrier’s 2021 Reference Recordings album Last Tango Before Sunrise, Wouter Kellerman’s 2021 South African Music Award-winning album We’ve Known All Times, Gernot Wolfgang’s 2019 Albany Records album Vienna and the West, Isaac Schankler’s 2019 Aerocade Music album Because Patterns, and Genevieve Vincent’s 2018 Mano Walker Records EP Petit Rêve. Nadia completed her DMA and MM degrees at the University of Southern California, where she was awarded the title of Outstanding Graduate. Her principal teachers included John Perry, Victor Rosenbaum, and Victor Derevianko.

Photo by Tom Zasadzinski

About Lewis Spratlan

Winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in music and the 2016 Charles Ives Opera Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Lewis Spratlan was born in 1940 in Miami, Florida. His music, often praised for its dramatic impact and vivid scoring, is performed regularly throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Spratlan is the recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Composition, as well as Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Bogliasco, NEA, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and MacDowell Fellowships. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Yale University. From 1970 until his retirement in 2006, Spratlan taught composition at Amherst College. He locates himself solidly in the mainstream of Western music, in the tradition of chant through Ligeti and beyond. He is also much influenced by jazz and South Indian music. Spratlan writes: “I consider myself free of any ideology beyond that contained by music itself—the laws of counterpoint, principles of movement, changes in density, register, and color. All of this provides a means to say something human, to make observations about oneself in the world and the world in oneself.” As to what to write, he follows the advice of an early instructor, “Above all, write what you want to hear.”

Producing new works at a prodigious rate, his recent commissions include the opera Earthrise, commissioned by San Francisco Opera; a piano quartet, Streaming, commissioned by the Ravinia Festival; Sojourner for ten players, commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress; Shadow, commissioned by cellist Matt Haimovitz; Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra, a consortium commission; A Summer’s Day, commissioned by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Shining: Double Concerto for Cello and Piano, commissioned by Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O’Riley; and Common Ground, commissioned by The Crossing choir, among many others. Spratlan’s opera Life is a Dream received its world premiere by the Santa Fe Opera in 2010, under the baton of Leonard Slatkin. His Horn Quartet, dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, was premiered in September 2013. Bangladesh, for solo piano, commissioned by Piano Spheres, was premiered in October 2015 at REDCAT/Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, by Nadia Shpachenko, followed by numerous subsequent performances. Spratlan has recently completed his fourth opera, Midi, a black French-Caribbean Medea, ca. 1930.