College of Charleston music professors Natalia Khoma and Volodymyr Vynnytsky were made honorary professors in late 2015 at the Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine, otherwise known as the Kiev Conservatory.
It is the latest honor bestowed on the married couple in their homeland, as Khoma and Vynnytsky have previously been named honorary professors at Lviv State Academy of Music and the Odessa State Music Academy. But this most recent honor bestowed by the Kiev Conservatory was particularly special, as the professors were honored through an elaborate ceremony and musical performance in December 2015.
Also of note: the Great Hall of the Kiev conservatory had recently served as a makeshift hospital for protesters during Ukraine’s 2014 Revolution. The conservatory sits directly on a central square, or maidan, where protesters in Kiev gathered to oust former President Viktor Yanukovych.
Vynnytsky previously taught at the conservatory from 1984 to 1991, before meeting Khoma in New York in 1992 as they both rehearsed for a concert. Despite both growing up in Lviv and studying at the Moscow Conservatory, the two musicians did not become acquainted before coming to the United States around the time of the breakup of the USSR.
“She’s a cello player, I’m a pianist,” says Vynnytsky. “It works together.”
By being made honorary professors at the Kiev Conservatory, Khoma and Vynnytsky join the prestigious ranks of other accomplished musicians associated with the conservatory. American pianist Vladimir Horowitz studied at the Kiev Conservatory, and the conservatory’s professors have included Felix Blumenfeld, Reinhold Glière and Heinrich Neuhaus. Other honorary professors include Krzysztof Penderecki, Valentin Silvestrov, Sofia Gubaidulina, Vladimir Krainev and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.
Watch the ceremony below, as Khoma and Vynnytsky are serenaded: