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Stefan Bulyha - Clarinet


1- Your first teacher was Mykola Protas. How do you remember this master and this foundation stage?

I sincerely thank my first teacher for so many things. I feel so much gratitude for that fateful phone call with an invitation to the music school, which sounded in our apartment on May 13, 2008. I remember the exact date because our family celebrated the birthday of my younger sister and grandmother. I am also grateful to Mr. Mykola Protas for his dedication and selfless work, for his caring attitude, for his constant support, for his sensitivity to me, which has always been manifested. It was he who helped me take the first steps in mastering the clarinet, in the correct setting of the mouthpiece (which I could not master for a long time), as well as for setting the right breath while playing the clarinet and many other things my first teacher did for me. It was Mykola Protas who prepared me for college and handed me over to one the best clarinet teacher in Ukraine, Roman Vovk. Despite the fact that almost 5 years have passed since I graduated from the music school, I still maintain close contact with my first teacher, as well as other school tutors – Larysa Stukalo, Kateryna Dymchenko, Lidia Chorna, Serhiy Kulchynsky, and others, to whom I am also very grateful. I have very friendly and close relationship with them and these tutors have always remained close and dear to me, as well as sincerely happy for my victories as their own.


2- Is your family musical?

Now, none of my relatives have anything to do with music. However, my mother's grandfather Pavlo Zachernyuk played many wind instruments in the fire brigade orchestra from a young age. Later he played on the euphonium (baritone) in the village orchestra of the village Lukiv (Matseiv) in Volyn. I saw him only in the photos and I am very happy that I have been following his footsteps. I am convinced that my commitment to the clarinet was brought from him and he would be proud of me and glad that I have chosen the path of a musician in my life.

3- You later studied at the college Glier KMAM, where you studied for 4 years. How do you remember this stage in your development and the masters in this institution?

Yes, studying at R. Glier Kyiv Municipal Academy of Music was one more phase in my acquisition of new knowledge and skills, as this metropolitan educational institution belongs, without a doubt, to the top tier institutions, especially in comparison to the music school in Rivne. In fact, I was lucky that I was taught by Professor Roman Vovk, whom I have already mentioned. Very symbolic is the fact that Mr. Roman celebrates his birthday on May 13, as well as my sister and grandmother. I also thank him immensely for the knowledge and his vast experience as musician and teacher. I’m grateful him for the significant contribution that Roman Vovk has made to me and each of his students, who shine with their talents around the world. It was he, who t a lot of things that I will need for the rest of my life. His eternal stimulus and perseverance helped me win, both over myself and in many competitions, as well as in entering the Royal Academy of Music in London. Without a mentor like Roman Vovk, it would be very difficult for me to reach such a peak.

I sincerely and infinitely thank him for never losing faith in me and always providing help, advice and parental guidance, as well as all himself to improve me as a future true musician. Other people also played a big role in my development during my studies. These are college teachers Olga Shevchenko, Oleksandr Kocherzhenko, Vadym Rakochi, Victoria Bodina, Hanna Kuzmenko, Tetiana Patsukevych. My participation in the Glier KMAM Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Vitaliy Protasov, who has been the chief conductor of the National Philharmonic of Ukraine for a long time, also undoubtedly influenced my formation. It was the knowledge and experience gained at the college that helped me to participate in the Moldovan Youth Orchestra and later in the Pan-Caucasian Youth and Ukrainian Youth Orchestras. Currently, I’m the member of the last two orchestras. I was greatly impressed and influenced by YsOU conductor Oksana Lyniv, who is a very powerful musician. I recently learned that she had signed a contract with the Royal Opera House in London. I would like to visit Giacomo Puccini's play "Tosca", in which Ms. Oksana will take part in the British capital in November.

I also thank my friends, with whom I studied in Kyiv and who also had a positive impact on my development – for their support, help and friendship. These are Maksym Levitsky (conductor), Andriy Palyarush (clarinet), Vlad Tolordava (trumpet), Solomiya Kachur (clarinet), Dmytro Kerez (trumpet), Olga Stukalova (flute) and many others, who always motivated me to self-improvement and new achievements. I could always count on them. After graduating from college, we study mostly in different institutions, but our friendship will always help and inspire everyone to gain new achievements and accomplishments.


4- You won numerous competitions. Does anyone stand out for you?

Yes, apparently some of them were iconic to me. This is a victory in 2017 in the competition named after Muelberg in Odesa, in one of the most musical and beautiful cities of Ukraine, which is called South Palmyra. I dedicated my victory in the same year at the Starchenko contest to all my compatriots because the contest took place in my hometown of Rivne. I can also single out two competitions that took place outside of Ukraine. At one of them, I received the first prize CHAMBER MUSIC AWARD in the chamber ensemble - Stefan Bulyha - clarinet (Ukraine), Clara Shubilske - violin (USA), Jada Campbell - piano (USA) at the "Zodiac Music Academy & Festival".

At this event, I gained new experience of collaboration and playing in an ensemble, and I was also pleased to receive the second prize at the Silverstein Global Clarinet Contest in the USA, which was judged by the 40 best clarinetists from around the world, including such famous musicians as Sabine Meyer (Germany), Eddie Daniels (USA), Gabor Varga (Hungary) and many more, although I must say that each of the other competitions in which I participated also meant a lot to me and revealed to be the new useful experience that supported my creative growth.

5- You are currently a student of the Royal Academy of Music. How is this progressing?

I auditioned for the Royal Academy of Music last December. I am very pleased that the academy noted my talents and skills shown in the entrance exams with a full scholarship to study. It is a great honor for me to be a student of one of the most prestigious music institutions in the world. Classes begin with the new school year and I look forward to meeting the academy, the teachers, my new colleagues and, of course, the British capital, London. So far, I'm only familiar with the Admissions Team and Head of Woodwind Fraser Gordon. I thank them for their online help in learning a brand new direction, which will be for the studying RAM, and I’m also grateful for the support I receive from them.

Now, I am also looking for foundations and trusts to help me to adapt and live in the UK capital. I am very grateful to Talent Unlimited, who was the first to respond and kindly accept me as one of its fellows, which will help me to improve my performing skills. I very much hope that the other organizations to which I have applied for a living scholarship will also support my application.

I understand, it is necessary to work hard and stay persistent to reach musical heights. Therefore, I hope, personal qualities, my educational experience, skills, and achievements at the competitions, as well as the level of playing the instrument, which became the whole my life, are appropriate for the conservatory requirements. I expect it to become a further step in my professional development, which will help me to glorify my Alma mater and country someday.

6- What are your fondest musical memories, privately or performing?

Such memories are my preparation for responsible competitions and concerts, where I hone all the subtleties of musical works, which I will present to the jury members or the audience. And of course the competitions, contests, and festivals themselves, the spirit of which can not be compared with anything else. Among the many memories is the competition I mentioned above in France, where I performed in an ensemble with two musicians from the United States. Despite the fact that we got a very complex work by Bela Bartok "Contrasts" and we had very limited time to prepare, we still managed to mobilize all our forces and successfully performed, for which the ensemble received the CHAMBER MUSIC AWARD. It was then that emotions really overwhelmed us from the fact that despite all the difficulties we were able to perform with dignity and win.

Also among my most pleasant musical memories the performance of works by Ukrainian composers takes an important place. In my solo repertoire, there are works by Levko Kolodub, Levko Revutsky, Yevhen Stankovych, Myroslav Skoryk. As the part of the Ukrainian Youth Symphony Orchestra, we performed works by Yevhen Stankovych, Borys Lyatoshynsky, Myroslav Skoryk, Zoltan Almashi, and Vasyl Barvinsky. It is this Ukrainian heritage that I will definitely try to promote and promote abroad as much as I can. After all, there are many talented personalities among the Ukrainian composers of all times, whose masterpieces are not well known, for different reasons, around the world or in Ukraine. That is why I try to research information about them and their masterpieces to popularize it and inform my colleagues during the meetings at competitions, festivals, and musical events. I am inspired to do so due to the artistic director of YsOU Oksana Lyniv. Speaking to foreigners, I often tell about Leontovych, who is the author of “Carol of the Bells” (and this is new information for some people), and also about the fact that Leonard Bernstein’s parents lived in my home city Rivne. I want to share the Ukrainian musical culture, represented by Lyatoshynsky, Revutskyi, Lysenko, and Silvestrov’s masterpieces around the world receiving new knowledge, skills, studying new methods, and learning the world musical heritage.


I also have good memories of the moments I have been spending at home after all. I try to see my friends during a meeting with whom we exchange news, interesting information and relax together. If I perform in Rivne, they definitely come to the concerts to support me. I am really glad to have wonderful friends in Rivne, Kyiv, and other cities, including cities in France and USA. Now, I hope, I will also have them in the UK as well.

7- How often do your practice?

I try to exercise every day because, in order to be in good shape and sound good, you need constant and persistent training. I make the most of my time for classes, and most importantly I try to do it productively and for the benefit of the cause and the end result. Just as Mykola Protas and Roman Vovk taught me.

8- Would you consider teaching in the future?

In the first place, I have music-making, but if I have the opportunity to teach, I will try to do it too. Although this is still a long-term prospect, in the coming years I have a task to get the most musical baggage while studying at RAM and participating in various creative activities during my stay in the capital of Great Britain.

9- Who would your dream accompanist be, from the present or past?

In the past, the accompanist of my dream was Bohdan Drymalyk, who was the accompanist of the class of the famous Ukrainian singer Solomiya Krushelnytska. Nowadays, it is Yevhen Dashak from Kyiv and Serhiy Kulchynsky from Rivne. I am sincerely grateful to Mr. Serhiy for accompanying me for one of the works, which was listened to at the entrance exams to the Royal Academy of Music.

He is the father of the world-famous opera singer Olga Kulchynska and her sister Khrystyna, who is a cellist and studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. I also dream of playing on the same stage with them. And if you asked me about a conductor with whom I would very much like to play, then from the past it would be the Ukrainian Stefan Turchak, who was highly valued by Herbert von Karajan and gave him a baton as a sign of his affection. And from now on, this is definitely Sir Simon Rattle, and I will do all my best to make this dream come true.

10- How do you balance your time commitments in terms of study, research, performance? What are the biggest sacrifices?

Most of my time, of course, goes to training and improving performance. That's why I often have to sacrifice meetings with friends, sometimes even vacations. However, my friends are never offended, because they understand what it means for me to study and play my instrument. Now I also spend a lot of time improving my English, because studying in the UK requires the perfect knowledge of it. It is the high level of English proficiency that will show respect for the country in which I will live.

11- What advice would you give to young musicians at the start of their journey?

It’s necessary to set a specific goal and aim, then confidently and persistently go to them every second, every hour, every day, despite any obstacles, difficulties, or even threats. Also, it’s always necessary to stay yourself and be honest with people. These are the things that my parents and my teachers taught me, that I am sincerely grateful to, and that I love and respect. These are the things that have always helped me during my studies, participation in concerts and other events. A musician must be a person who loves not only his work, but also the world around him and people, then in the works he performs this world will be reflected in all the brightest colors and shades, while people will enjoy them and listen with pleasure.

To return to Stefan’s profile:

submission March 2021