Dmitry Ostankovich: Belarusians have similar mentality to Kazakhs
Dmitry Ostankovich is a composer, teacher, public figure and a chairman of “Radima” Belarusian Cultural Centre in Astana. He has been repeatedly marked by gratitude letters and diplomas of the Assembly of people of Kazakhstan for his high service to the humanistic ideals of goodness, spiritual accord, strengthening friendship and inter-ethnic unity. The famous composer shared what inspires him to write compositions, what activities are held in Belorussian centre and international cooperation.
—Could you tell about yourself, please.
—I was born and raised in Shymkent, in a large multi-ethnic city that is a synthesis of distinctive national cultures. I graduated from Shymkent Music College. After that, I studied at Almaty State Conservatory and Academy of Music in Astana. Now I live and work in the capital of our homeland — Astana. I teach at Kazakh National University of Arts, at Department "Musicology and composition". Just a few days ago, I was appointed as Dean of Music Department. I am married and my wife is also a musician, she teaches with me at university. We have three sons.
—You are the head of Belarusian cultural center. What kind of activities are carried out in the centre, what events are held, what holidays are celebrated?
—Belarusian Cultural Centre "Radima", which I head in Astana, was founded in 2013. It united indifferent enthusiasts of the promotion of Belarusian culture, preservation of traditions, customs, rituals, studying the history of its people and language.
In a short time, "Radima" centre has managed to develop and implement a number of interesting cultural projects. This includes various public events, patriotism lessons, round tables and presentations. The folklore ensemble Viaselka is a regular participant of these projects, as well as a large number of concerts, contests and festivals. An important area of its activities is the performance of patriotic songs promoting love for the homeland and the high consolidating values of our people!
Belarusians are open and hospitable people. Hospitality is one of the best traditions of our nation. We are very close in mentality to the Kazakhs here. Therefore, we celebrate with great pleasure and love all the Kazakh holidays and welcome guests with open hearts. The most beloved of them are "Gratitude Day", "Nauryz Meiramy", "Kazakhstan People’s Unity Day", "Kazakhstan First President Day" and "Independence Day" of our Republic.
—There's an ensemble at the center, tell us about it.
—Artistic director of the ensemble is Tamara Batrak. I am both the head of Radima and the “Viaselki” choirmaster. The ensemble consists of 12 members: Tamara Batrak (deputy chairman), Valentina Kirichenko (Deputy Chairman), Maria Kostyuk (soloist), Svetlana Tolkaneva, Galina Syritsa, Sofia Dekola, Elena Zimina, Veronika Feklistova, Nikolai Nesteruk, Anatoly Lisitsky, Mikhail Dunayev.
The group's repertoire mainly consists of folk Belarusian, Kazakh and Russian songs, my own songs and songs of the Belarusian folk music ensemble “Byaseda”. We often perform at various stages of the city and take part in contests and festivals.
—Every ethno-cultural centre has its own direction, what direction do you have? (mediation, migration issues, etc.)
—The main direction of our activity is creation of conditions for recognition of Belarusian culture in Kazakhstan and search of possibilities of interpenetration of Kazakh and Belarusian cultures in each other. This is a fertile ground for our work. Geographically, the Republic of Kazakhstan is located in the heart of Eurasia and is a bridge between different cultures and civilizations.
—Does your centre cooperate with other organizations at the international level?
—Our centre signed an agreement on cooperation with Department of Ideological Work, Culture and Youth Affairs of Voronovsky district Executive Committee of Grodno region of the Republic of Belarus. We also closely cooperate with the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Thanks to the Assembly of people of Kazakhstan, the members of which are "Radima" Belorussian Centre, we cooperate with many countries and people and are actively working for the benefit of peace and friendship in our country!
—What is the role of the cultural centre in preserving peace and accord in the country? What is being realized for that?
—Our centre carries out cultural, educational, social and scientific activities aimed at preserving cultural and spiritual achievements of the Belarusian, Kazakh and other people of Kazakhstan among Belarusians, as well as their further development.
—Are there any youth activists and leaders at the Belarusian Cultural Centre "Radima"? Tell us about them.
—The head of the youth wing in the centre is Veronika Feklistova, a 3rd year student of the L. Gumilyov Eurasian National University. Our activists are Alesia Kasianova, Kirill Basov, Yevgenia Rakova, Yevgeny Dmitriyev, Yuliya Feklistova and other young people. I can't say that they have a lot of time for public work, but they are always with us and charge us with their youth and enthusiasm! I am very grateful for that.
—What do you consider your main achievement?
—It is a difficult question. I am happy that I have people who love me and who I love. And I am glad that I have managed to keep this happiness until today.
—Do you visit Belarus, how often?
—I do, but it happens rarely. The most interesting thing for me was a trip to Minsk to the Festical of Arts of Belarusians of the world in 2014. The festival was attended by 250 compatriots from 18 countries. It was a real festival of Belarusian culture!
—You are the author of many musical works. Tell us about them? Your first work. What inspires you to compose?
—I am a professional composer. This circumstance imposes on me the duty to freely write music in different genres and for different instrumental compositions.
One of my first compositions is a song for children “Yabloko pishet, a tykva chitaet” ("Apple Writes and Pumpkin Reads") to the poems of Grigory Kruzhkov. It turned out to be successful, performers and listeners liked it.
The most known and significant work written by me is “Khoral pamiati zhertv Beslana” ("Choral of memory of Beslan victims") for bayan solo. This is a kind of mournful response to the terrible event, which took place on September 1, 2004 at school No. 1 in Beslan.
I am inspired by the beautiful music of great composers, the wonderful books I have read, the paintings of outstanding artists and the events of my life around me.
—Could you tell us about your teaching activity?
—I have been teaching composition and other musical-theoretical subjects for seventeen years at Kazakh National University of Arts. I love my work and my students. I try to find their own “me” in each of them, and I transfer knowledge which my teachers gave me in turn.
—You are an organizer of the annual contest of young composers "Samal" in KazNUA. What prospects does younger generation have?
—For thirteen years now, I have been holding a contest of young composers at the department. Over the years, “Samal” has evolved from a university competition to an international one. Last year we held the first international competition in KazNUA. It was a real holiday of composer's art! The Grand Prix was taken by a young composer from Germany, and the first place was taken by a Kazakh student of KazNUA. I am sure that our students, young composers will have a great future!
—How did you become a member of Belarus Composers Union?
—I suddenly discovered the wonderful Belarusian poetry. The poems of Maxim Bogdanovich, Jakub Kolas, Maxim Tank and other Belarusian authors seem to have been specially created for songs. I wrote several song cycles, which were assessed in Belarus and I was offered to join Composers Union of the Republic of Belarus.
—Do you use social media?
—We have our own pages on "Facebook" and “Moi mir”, as well as a personal website of the folklore ensemble "Viaselka", which reflect all the activities of our centre and make it available to everyone who wants to get acquainted with the Belarusian culture.