Russian-American lutenist and early music expert Oleg Timofeyev comes to Ukraine to teach early music performance for a year. He soon finds out that the largest country in Europe does not have an early music movement in the usual sense, dedicated to the recreation of European Renaissance, Baroque, or medieval repertoires. As he meets musicians, ensembles, and scholars, both official and underground, he wonders why this should be the case. He discovers the country’s epic tradition, its folk songs and vocal liturgy, often quite different from those in Western Europe, and not very well known anywhere else.
These specific traditions of Ukrainian music making do not mix easily with Western Early Music, and even give contemporary reconstructions of old music a uniquely different flavor and style. The film presents performances by a range of Ukrainian ensembles, and concludes with scenes from the recording sessions of the crossover ensemble “Sarmatica.” “Sarmatica” was founded by Oleg Timofeyev and his new friends. Their first album, combining Western Renaissance lute music from the “L’viv Lute Tablature” with Ukrainian musical styles, will be released on the Sono Luminus Label in May 2011.