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Tetyana Komashchenko, winner of Best Young Talent of the Year
Mariya VLAD describes her meeting with Tetyana Komashchenko, 11, the winner of the Lyudyna Roku 2005 prize in the nomination Young Talent of the Year, and provides some details of the winner’s background.
When I saw her enter the office of this magazine, the first thought that flashed through my mind was: “She looks like a tender rose bud”. She was of a small stature, slim like a stem, with a long neck crowned with a regal head. By contrast, the expression on her face and her whole demeanor were that of natural modesty. She was accompanied by her father. Right from the start of our conversation it became clear that she was rather taciturn, and it was her father who supplied pieces of information to fill the gaps in her story. What follows is what I learnt from them.
Recognition came to Tetyana not because she was seeking it but because she happened to be noticed. I am sure though that it would have come to her anyway, sooner or later.
A couple of years ago, in the village of Vyshenki, not too far from Kyiv, there appeared a young man, Mykhailo Strochuk who was appointed the director of the local Culture Community Centre. Mykhailo was a student of the National University of Culture in Kyiv then. In June, at the celebrations of the ancient feast of Ivan Kupala which had long ago gotten merged with the Christian feast of St John the Baptist, Tetyana sang at the celebrations and Mykhailo, who heard her sing, was immediately impressed. He asked her to come over to the Community Centre some time later. She did and his first impressions were confirmed — the girl did have an excellent voice. And she wrote her own songs into the bargain.
In April 2005 he took her to Kyiv where, at the University of Culture, he had arranged a recording session for the girl. She passed the audition with flying colours. Right there and then, the university arranged for her to take part in an international festival, Vid sertsya do sertsya (From Heart to Heart) that was held in Hungary in April of the same year. She performed her new song, Bily kin’ (White Horse) and it earned her a prize, the first one in her life, plus an invitation to perform at an international song and dance contest, Zoryany mosty (Bridges of Stars) to be held in Ukraine later that year. The contest was held in Yevpatoriya, the Crimea, in June 2005, and Tetyana was awarded the first place.
Her rise to fame was truly meteorical. One invitation to a contest or a festival followed another. In the fall of 2005 she won several prizes at prestigious festivals and contests. She took part in the Day of Ukraine’s Culture in Sweden and Finland and was given a very warm reception. Almost immediately upon arrival from Finland she was whisked off to another festival, and some time later she was to perform a role in a musical, V Gostyakh u Meri Popins (A Visit to Mary Poppins).
When she was invited to take part at a festival by Dmytro Hnatyuk, the outstanding Ukrainian opera singer, this invitation came as a final recognition of her talent. It seemed that all these public appearances, TV cameras, flowers and applause would make her head spin but she remained what she was — a ten-year old girl from a village in the Ukrainian country side.
In spite of her frequent performances, rehearsals and travel she managed to keep up with her studies at school. In fact, she continued to be doing excellently in all the subjects, math included (she admitted though that PT and singing classes she liked best). She even found time to help her mother at home and in the vegetable garden.
She was not particularly surprised when she was promoted to take part in the Lyudyna Roku 2005 contest (for more details about the contest, see the article Outstanding Persons of the Year 2005, in this issue). But the competition proved to be very tough. Out of 30 contestants only three were chosen for the final round. When I asked her how she would take a defeat, Tetyana said that she had been all set to win but in case she lost, she would not be unduly upset. “It would just mean that somebody else is better than me, that’s all.”
She did come out best, and on March 11 2006, at a ceremony in Kyiv’s Ukrayina Palats Concert Hall she was proclaimed winner of the Lyudyna Roku 2005 contest in the nomination Young Talent of the Year.
Tetyana Komashchenko remains a pupil of her village school; at the same time she takes lessons of singing, solfeggio, and choreography at Kyiv’s University of Culture. Mykhailo Strochuk, the man who has discovered her talent, is her producer. It is he who takes her to classes in Kyiv, a ten-mile drive one way. Her hobbies include computer games and playing the piano. She does realize that her talent makes her stand out among her coevals, but it does not go to her head and she takes her talent as something natural, something that one has to live with. And she fully realizes that she has to work hard to keep improving it.
She must have inherited her talent from her late maternal grandmother who was a farm hand tending the cows. Her voice made her special and respected well beyond the small world of her village.
Tetyana says she loves her parents and her sister dearly; when asked what kind of food she prefers she says that her favourites are traditional Ukrainian dishes of holubtsi (cabbage leaves stuffed with meat) and borsch. She admits that during her trips abroad, she does enjoy “all those unfamiliar” dishes she is treated to, but still she’d prefer food that she eats at home.
Tetyana Komashchenko has already made six videos of her songs; in addition to her own songs, she performs songs written for her by professional composers. In everyday life, she looks and behaves like a modest village girl but the moment she appears on the stage or in front of a TV camera she is magically transformed into a performer who knows well her worth. n
Photos are from Tetyana KOMASHCHENKO’s archive
The first row, from left to right: Kateryna Sokolovska,
Tetyana Komashchenko with Vladimir Shayinsky,
Tetyana Komashchenko at the filming
Tetyana Komashchenko at one of her
Tetyana Komashchenko holding
Tetyana Komashchenko’s grandmother