February 15, 2023 | 17:00 Lecture
University of Amsterdam | BG 3 | Binnengasthuisstraat 9 1012 ZA Amsterdam

Eastsplainers #3: Music

As the Russian war in Ukraine and imperialist Kremlin rhetoric continues to disturb world media, Eastsplainers offers a counterweight to 'westsplaining' – the habit of looking at developments in Central and Eastern Europe through Western lenses. In this public lecture series, we listen to intellectuals and artists who fled from the Russian war in Ukraine or who fled or migrated from Łódź, Minsk, and Moscow, among other places, to the Netherlands.
Historical Soviet Plastic depicts a soldierly, heroic scene. The flag is painted over in Ukrainian colors.

The February edition of Eastsplainers is devoted to music and sound. We welcome three internationally renowned musicians with a special interest in new or, as they themselves call it, ‘unheard’ music.

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Cellist Maya Fridman, percussionist Konstantyn Napolov, and pianist Hanna Shybayeva are based in The Netherlands, but each of them has close personal and biographic ties with Central and Eastern Europe as well. For Fridman and Shybaeva, the Russian war in Ukraine and recent repressions in Belarus also prompted musical initiatives aimed at fundraising.

Among other topics, we discuss Shybayeva’s Music for Belarus concerts and Fridman’s Benefit concerts for Ukraine – musical events that attracted broad public attention and generated hundreds of thousands of Euros of support for victims of war and repression. We not only talk about music, however: the musicians also perform recent work live.

(Photo: Brendon Heist)

Maya Fridman

Maya Fridman was born in Moscow in 1989 and has been playing the cello since she was six. Her search for new music and experiments led her to Amsterdam, where she graduated cum laude at the Conservatory in 2016. Fridman is known for her passionate performances with a unique mix of styles and genres. Her concerts carry a deeper philosophy and theme, and her recorded works focus on the development of contemporary music for cello and voice. In 2019, Maya won the coveted Dutch Classical Talent Award. For season 2020/2021, she was Artist in Residence at TivoliVredenburg. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD trajectory at Leiden University researching ways of integrating ritual experience in performance practice.

Konstantyn Napolov

Konstantyn Napolov

Konstantyn Napolov is an outstanding percussionist, an impassioned pioneer and promoter of new music. He closely cooperates with leading composers. Educated in Kyiv, The Hague, Strasbourg, and at prestigious US institutions, he has studied with the world’s greatest musicians and been awarded many prizes. Still, he is constantly in search of new and unheard sounds. In performances throughout Europe and beyond, as a soloist and in various ensembles, he plays repertoire and instruments from all over the world and the entire music history.

Hanna Shybayeva

Hanna Shybayeva has won many prizes from a young age at international piano competitions in Europe and the US, and was rewarded with multiple grants. She studied at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague where she graduated in 2005 as Master of Music with the highest distinction. Since 2008, she has been a member of the New European Ensemble, which exists of soloists and chamber musicians from across Europe and is one of the most innovative ensemble’s for new music. Since 2013, Hanna has been a member of the piano faculty at the International Anton Rubinstein Music Academy in Düsseldorf (Germany)/Kalaidos Hochschule (Swiss) and since 2021 she is appointed as a piano professor at the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music.

Lecture series

Which contemporary cultural and intellectual trends do they witness in various parts of Central & Eastern Europe today? And how can knowledge about these trends help us understand Europe better? We study these questions with two important caveats in mind. One: the unlawful Russian regime somehow affects artists, scholars, and thinkers across all of Central & Eastern Europe – but we shun equalisations of other localities with Ukraine, where a full-fledged Russian war creates acute and mass-scale suffering. Second: rather than amplifying views on various Central & Eastern European locations as a monolithic European ‘East,’ Eastsplainers aims to unsettle these views. These locations may have connected histories – but our lectures and discussions show that they merit independent study and careful attention to local dynamics.

In a series of public lectures, staff members of the universities of Amsterdam and Leiden interview and introduce scholars, journalists, artists, film makers, musicians, and other cultural and academic professionals. They enter into conversations with each other and the audience, and they showcase new music, films, and literary works.

Apart from solidifying public education about Central & Eastern Europe, the series is meant as a space to jointly halt and digest the ongoing disturbing news about the Russian war in Ukraine. The series is also aimed to consolidate diasporic networks and offer financial support to artists and intellectuals in need. Eastsplainers is an initiative of prof. dr. Ellen Rutten, co-organised by Mari Janssen and Suzanne Rademaker and is set up with support from the University of New Europe, Middle- and Eastern-European studies publisher Pegasus and the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis.

The lectures take place from 17:00 to 18:30 in VOX-POP, the creative space of the UvA’s Faculty of Humanities.