Behind the Ballet: Orchestrator Alexander Levkovich

July 23, 2019

Alexander Levkovich is the orchestrator for Anne of Green Gables – The Ballet™.  An internationally accomplished Canadian composer, Alexander has created over 60 adaptations of existing works and 50 original pieces throughout Ukraine, Israel, Italy, the United States, and Canada. In this interview, learn more about Alexander’s career and exciting work with CBJ, including his trip to Kyiv to record the orchestration for Anne of Green Gables – The Ballet™.

Alexander Levkovich with the full score before leaving for Kyiv.

“Dance is a completely different genre. In the musical, the orchestra is smaller, and the audience must listen to the words. The orchestration of the ballet is performed by a symphony orchestra of 74 people. It’s much different.”

Share a little bit about your musical background and career highlights. I studied music in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv and graduated from the Lysenko Academy of Music with degrees in Piano Performance and Composition. I became a member of the Creative Composer’s League of the former Soviet Union in the 1980s and spent that period composing in diverse musical genres. I later spent three years in Israel. My work was performed across the country as well as in Italy and the United States. In the early 90s I moved to Canada. Composing “Isle of Beautiful Illusion” for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra was a big highlight for me. It is a Concerto for Violin, Percussion and Chamber Orchestra. The piece was commissioned by violinist Jacques Israelievitch, who was the concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra premiered the work in April 2006.

Top row: Alexander, Conductor Volodymyr Sirenko & Bengt in front of the Recording Studio and a look inside the recording process. Bottom row: inside the recoding studio with Aleksandra Maslennikova. Photos by Aleksandra Maslennikova.

Take us behind the scenes of creating the orchestration for Anne of Green Gables – The Ballet™. I started the orchestration in November 2018, and it is now finished. We are using Norman Campbell’s music from Anne of Green Gables – The Musical®. The music for the musical is about an hour in duration, and the ballet will be two hours. My role is to make a longer orchestration based on Norman Campbell’s motifs and themes. The musical themes are simple and beautiful. I did not depart from them but brought my own vision to create a variation for the ballet. It changes tempos all the time and is more flexible for dancing. Dance is a completely different genre. In the musical, the orchestra is smaller, and the audience must listen to the words. The orchestration of the ballet is performed by a symphony orchestra of 74 people. It’s much different.

Who recorded the orchestration and what was involved in that process? We recorded with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine in Kyiv with conductor Volodymyr Sirenko and sound engineer Andriy Mokritskiy. It took us 24 hours of tedious work: six four-hours sessions across four full days. Bengt and I spent those four days together with the orchestra, giving directions for tempo (Bengt) and instrumental/dynamic detail (me). Every orchestral recording is a complex process requiring the attention and coordinated work of the whole team. We were lucky to work with such a brilliant group of professionals. We have two to three recorded versions of each scene to choose from. We worked another two full days with the sound engineer Andriy Mokritskiy, choosing the best sound versions of each scene and combining them into the full ballet track. Anne of Green Gables – The Ballet™ premieres September 28, 2019 in Halifax with Symphony Nova Scotia. For more information visit our Anne page and look for updates in our monthly Anne Newsletter.   Written by Victoria Campbell Windle, CBJ Communications Contributor. Follow us on Facebook @balletjorgencanada to stay current on news, events and performances.