A Tribute to Eugene (Genya) Osadchy
Artistic Director Emeritus - In Memoriam
Tribute from Victor Costanzi
Eugene and I met in the early 1980’s while playing in the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. I arrived in Vancouver during August of 1979 and Eugene came a year or two later. He had emigrated from the Soviet Union with his first wife Natasha and their son Dmitri. After a 6 month stay in Italy, they came to Vancouver.
The connection between Eugene and me was immediate and soon we began playing chamber music on a weekly basis – just for ourselves – no concerts, no deadlines and no outer pressure! We used these sessions to recharge our ideals and love of music.
Photo caption: Vetta String Quartet in front of West Point Grey United Church, Vancouver, B.C. in the late 1980s
Somehow, word got out that we were doing this, and we received an invitation to perform Haydn’s “7 Last Words” for a Good Friday service. This was the first concert of the Vetta String Quartet (with Mark Koenig, violin II and Dan Blackman, viola), and it was the birthing of the Vetta Chamber Series. The official series began in 1985, but our work, dedication and commitment were up and running for several years prior with a silent vision of having a series.
We were two young men in our mid-twenties, and over the course of our 21 years in running the series, we grew up together. As one can imagine, with backgrounds as different as ours, the growth spurts did NOT always happen simultaneously! We certainly had our periods of “elbows and knees”, yet we persevered and ultimately fed each other personally and artistically. Words from colleagues who played with us were usually of the sort: “Victor and Eugene are so connected and in sync, you can just get on board...”. I will tell you with a smile that he and I did not always imagine this to be the case!
One funny story/anecdote from our Vetta history: As we worked year after year to make the series grow, it became clear that along with the wonderful and generous folks from the area (and all those from far way including from White Rock to the North Shore), there were two large groups of friends on whom we could count for support. From his side there were many Jewish people. From my side, there were many from the Anthroposophical Society.
Each year, Eugene and I searched our calendars to make sure we had “free” Friday evenings. We went through our schedules (freelance for me and VSO for him) and came up with an opening concert of September 29th. We went back and forth on the phone call: “You have NOTHING that evening?” “No, I am clear. Are you sure?” “Yes.” Thus the date was set.
When time for the concert arrived, we had the smallest audience we had had in years! Our guest on the concert that evening was the wonderful pianist Rena Sharon. She came backstage and said: “I almost didn’t come tonight.” We responded: “Rena, what are you talking about?”
It turns out that September 29th of that year was Yom Kippur and Rena was feeling her roots. It was also the beginning of a weekend for the Michaelmas celebration for the Anthroposophical Society! My contingent was in North Vancouver listening to Rudolf Steiner lectures while Eugene’s was home lighting candles on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar…Eugene and I looked at each other in disbelief and all we could do was shake our heads. HOW could we have not remembered to check?
I assure you, it NEVER happened again…
I will miss my dear friend “Grisha” (that nick name is a story for another time) very much. Luckily, with Facetime, he and I were able connect during his challenging final months. Each meeting had tears, laughter, storytelling, affectionate remembrances and…ended with each of us telling the other: “I love you.”
His wonderful gifts to Vancouver will live on, especially as the next generation – people who were around him and affected by his dedication and drive – pick up the ball and run.
He left a deep and very positive imprint. He inspired many and lived with a fierceness that was not always apparent in his outward demeanor. I assure you, he had fire. Grisha was, and continues to be, loved by many. I say good-bye on the earthly realm, but I see and feel him in his new place.
Safe journeys my dear friend – “I love you.”
Tribute from Linda Lee Thomas
Linda Lee Thomas is Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Masterpiece Music and a regular guest artist on the Vetta series.
“Eugene was unique, a true original. There is not another like him.”
Photo caption: Masterpiece Music Performance featuring Kathleen Rudolf, Linda Lee Thomas, Eugene Osadchy
Eugene's Words of Wisdom
“Worry is a seed you plant.”
“We have to get the inner demons and naysayers out of us. We have plenty of peers and strangers who will talk us down. We must feel like heroes; like we CAN do it and push for success.”
In teaching: “If you are working hard, you are doing it wrong.”
Tribute from Joan Blackman
Eugene was a part of my life from 1988 when I joined the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. My husband Larry and I would carpool to work with Eugene and Larry’s brother Dan, and I was quickly introduced to the banter and jokes in which Eugene played a major role, albeit with a heavy Russian accent! In 1993 he asked if I would like to read string quartets with the Vetta boys, and we read Schubert one morning at his house. I was in heaven. They must have liked my playing and interaction because they asked me to join the Vetta String Quartet!
Photo caption: Great Russian Piano Trios at West Point Grey United Church, Vancouver, B.C., January 2019 - Joan Blackman, Anastasia Markina, Eugene Osadchy
For several years I was their second violinist, and I learned so much, especially from Eugene. I always listened to him for intonation, he was so clear in his intentions, and he heard everything. I thought of him as my chamber music mentor. As I moved up to titled positions in the VSO and as they phased out the quartet in favour of more variety in Vetta programming, I left the quartet, but still played with Eugene and Victor on CBC’s Radio’s Curio program, with CBC Radio orchestra, and in the VSO. In 2007, long after Eugene had left Vancouver to take his post at University of North Texas as a cello professor, Vetta was struggling. Victor had also moved to New York, so the two artistic directors were travelling back to Vancouver for concerts which was not a long-term solution. They decided to hand the series over to me.
For several years, Eugene remained the Artistic Advisor, and he always came to play on the series several times each season up until last spring. Always when Eugene was performing, we would get audience members who came only for him. They often had Russian accents! And always I would feel enriched by rehearsing, chatting, drinking a glass of wine and playing with him.
I will never forget his tone, his intensity with the music, his jokes, the smell of cigar, and his hilarious laugh.
Thank you, Eugene, for all your encouragement and inspiration. And thanks for Vetta.