Virko Baley, M.M.
Virko Baley is a Jacyk Fellow at Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, and Distinguished Professor of Music, Composer-in-Residence and co-director of NEON, an annual composers' conference, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He received a 2007 Grammy® Award as recording co-producer for TNC Recordings and the prestigious Academy Award in Music 2008 from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The citation read:
"A highly cultured, polyglot intellectual, brilliant pianist and a dynamic and accomplished conductor, the Ukrainian-born Virko Baley composes music which is dramatically expansive of gesture, elegant and refined of detail and profoundly lyrical. It is music which ‘sings’ with passionate urgency whether it embraces (as in his more recent work) folkloric elements from his origins or finds expression in a more universal style of modernism typical of his earlier music. It is always a singular voice and a deeply felt and acutely heard music."
Virko Baley was born in Ukraine in 1938, but has spent his creative life in the United States and considers himself a citizen of the world. Multi-lingual and multi-disciplinary, he infuses his music with themes of contemporary and traditional motifs. Shirley Fleming, reviewing a concert of his music given by CONTINUUM, in the New York Post called his music "vibrant, dramatic, communicative, much of it framed by extra-musical allusions that place it in a solid context."
The New York premiere of Concerto No. 1, quasi una fantasiafor violin by the New Juilliard Ensemble, Joel Sachs conductor, Tom Teh Chiu, soloist, prompted the Village Voice critic Kyle Gann to describe it as full of "sonic images memorable enough to take home.” His Symphony No. 1: "Sacred Monuments" was described by David Hurwitz in Classics as,"Powerfully imagined, clearly articulated, and quite moving… It's a very serious ambitious statement by a gifted artist, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it turns out to have more staying power than many other contemporary works by today's trendier composers."
In 2010, reviewing a recent CD released of Virko Baley’s music, Robert Schulslaper wrote that “Baley’s music [is] deeply lyrical and emotively powerful in equal measure. Recommended,” while American Record Guide pronounced,”These are exceptional compositions and fantastic performances. The language in these pieces is a part of a larger context of exploration for new sounds in the world of instrumental music.” In reviewing Baley’s monumental chamber cycle Treny in Gramophone, Ken Smith wrote “The strength of the piece lies in its highly - and unapologetically – emotional content, dispensed artfully with the utmost thematic discretion…Hearing nearly 73 minutes of brooding Slavic ruminations on death may not inspire much toe-tapping, but Baley does arrive at an effective catharsis.”
A highly respected composer, Mr. Baley has received grants and commissions from numerous organizations. He is the recipient of the 1996 Shevchenko Prize for Music, awarded by the Ukrainian government and he was also awarded the State of Nevada Regents' Creative Award for 1996. Commissions include the National Endowment for the Arts, Nevada State Arts Council, New Juilliard Ensemble, Kiev Camerata, Project 1000 and the Winnipeg Symphony, Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, Nevada Symphony, Continuum, California E.A.R. Unit, the National Symphony, the Kennedy Center, Washington DC and from many individual artists and patrons.
In 1989, Virko Baley co-produced with the renowned Ukrainian film director Yuriy Illienko and composed the music for the film Swan Lake. The Zone, which won two top awards at Cannes, the first Ukrainian film ever to receive a prize there. More recently, he wrote his second film score for another feature film, the final film by Illienko, A Prayer for Hetman Mazepa.
In addition to his activities as composer, conductor and pianist, Virko Baley is a recognized author on music, having written a number of articles on various musical topics and is a contributing editor to both New Grove Opera and New Grove 2000 Dictionary of Music on the subject of Ukrainian music. From 1980 to 1995, he was co-founder and Music Director of the Nevada Symphony Orchestra; from 1971-85 the Music Director of the Annual Contemporary Music Festival; and from 1975 to 1987, Music Director of the Las Vegas Chamber Players.