NOVA is presenting a work by Utah composer Igor Iachimciuc this Sunday. An award-winning artist with recent performances of his works all over the United States, Mr. Iachimciuc is originally from Moldova, a small country nestled between Romania and the Ukraine. Moldova was a part of the former Soviet Union until it achieved independence in 1991. Igor began composing at the age of 15 and has a PhD from the University of Utah. He is a virtuoso cimbalom player and teaches a number of composition courses at the University of Utah School of Music.
We recently conducted the following interview with Mr. Iachimciuc. NOVA will present a performance of his dynamic Sonata for Clarinet and Piano on Sunday December 14th, 2014.
NOVA: Most people at Sunday's concert will probably know very little about Moldova. What can you tell us about the country where you were born and raised as it affected your musical tastes and education?
II: Indeed, few people have heard about Moldova, not only because it is a small country but also because it became independent only recently after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Before its inclusion in the Soviet Union, Moldova was part of Romania. A part of historical Moldova, a state that existed before the formation of Romania, is in modern Romania. So, it is possible to compare the separation of Moldova with separation of Germany.
Both Romanian and Slavic cultures have influenced my musical composition. I am equally close to the folk traditions of Central, and Eastern Europe, and equally attracted to music of Bartók and Stravinsky, Vieru and Denisov, Dinescu and Gubaidulina, etc. The same is true about my musical education. All of my teachers in Moldova had ties with both Romanian and Russian schools.
NOVA: Are there regional traits to the folk music of Moldova that you are drawn to as a composer?
II: My first love of music came through folk traditions because I start playing cimbalom (string percussion folk instrument) at the age of 10. The folk tradition is especially strong in the North of Moldova were I was born. Perhaps, my first influence is the music of lautars (folk musicians who came from musician family) from Edinet, my birth place. But quickly I have mastered many Romanian folk styles, which eventually I explored in my compositions. Only later, in my twenties, I discovered classical and modern music. My first attraction towards composition came after listening the music of Bartók and Stravinsky. It was only after hearing music by these composers that I understood the full potential of folk music. At that time, the application of folk music by other composers seemed artificial, simplistic, and populist.
NOVA: How long have you been in Utah, and how did your education at the University of Utah shape you as a composer?
II: I have been in Utah for about 8 years. Studying composition abroad definitely expanded my musical vocabulary. I discovered a world I couldn't possibly have imagined previously. First, I became familiar with the music outside of Moldova. Many modern composers were virtually unknown to me due to both the Iron Curtain and the financial situation in Moldova. Second, studies in America made me realize the tight connection between seemingly different approaches to compositional techniques regardless of geographical and historical factors.
NOVA: You mentioned that your Sonata for Clarinet and Piano is indebted to your study of Bartók. What characteristics of Bartók's music might a chamber music aficionado expect to encounter in your sonata?
II: Yes, Bartok influenced me directly. The rhythm, like in many of Bartok pieces, dominates over the melody. I also made some timbral adjustments by muting some lower strings of piano in order to obtain a timpani-like sound. The frequent use of polyphonic textures also resembles Bartok.
NOVA: Was your Sonata for Clarinet and Piano composed for anyone specifically? The attitude and character of the piece is so direct and outgoing, I can't help but wonder if you had certain players in mind when you wrote it.
II: No, I did not have a specific clarinetist in mind, but I imagined that the player must have a special feel for rhythm and be capable to quickly switch between contrasting musical characters. Needless to say, this musician should be a virtuoso with a rather powerful sound. The same things I demand from the pianist. This is a very tight composition which does not allow rhythmic freedom. All of the rhythmic interactions can only be heard in a perfect ensemble. I am really excited and looking forward to hear this Sonata on Sunday!