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Accomplished violinist and Liberty professor shares family’s plight in Soviet Latvia, plays special hymn for his Ukraine neighbors

Liberty University Associate Professor of Music Dr. Yevgeniy Dovgalyuk

From his homeland of Latvia to Lynchburg, Va., Liberty University Associate Professor of Music Dr. Yevgeniy Dovgalyuk continues to use his talents for God’s glory whether on the stage or in the classroom.

Dovgalyuk is a world-renowned violinist who has performed in premiere concert venues throughout the United States and Europe, including Latvia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and Russia. He has served as a substitute violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra for many years and has performed with some of the world’s greatest artists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Gidon Kremer, Wynton Marsalis, Stevie Wonder, The Gettys, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Martina McBride, and many others.

“Those were incredible experiences and opportunities,” he said. “The world-renowned artists perform at big venues, and many of those concerts were at the Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. Performing for a sold-out crowd is always a big thrill.”

Dovgalyuk is a recipient of many performance awards including Concertmaster Emeritus with the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra, Ensembles Assistantship with the University of Maryland, Conductor’s Award at George Mason University, among others. He has also served as concertmaster with various orchestras throughout his career. In 2017, he was appointed as concertmaster with the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra, a position he still holds today.

Dovgalyuk was born in Latvia in 1980 and immigrated with his parents and three siblings to the U.S. when he was 11 years old due to oppression by the Soviet Union.

“There was quite an ordeal with getting out of the Soviet Union at that time,” he said. “We were able to get out of there with a sponsor church and a sponsor family in the U.S. But it was basically my grandfather’s faith and vision that led to us getting to America in the first place.”

Years earlier, his grandfather refused to renounce Christ and was taken to a concentration camp in Siberia where he was confined to coal mining for 12 years. He was only freed after government leadership changes.

Dovgalyuk still remembers his grandfather’s stories and said they fueled his own spiritual life.

“In my relationship with the Lord, I draw so much from the heritage of my family. It spans from the generations. It didn’t start with me; it starts with my grandfather. I know what he did and how faithful he was in the face of death. That’s really inspiring to me personally.”

Due to the turmoil and uncertainty caused by the breakup of the Soviet Union, Dovgalyuk’s parents desired to raise their children in a country where they would find religious freedom and career opportunities.

Soon after immigrating to the U.S., a new friend of his mother’s, a missionary who happened to be a member of the National Symphony Orchestra, came to their home and heard the children play their instruments. Soon after, she helped assign them to some of the finest musical teachers in the area.

Dovgalyuk playing with the National Wind Symphony Orchestra

By the time he was 17, Dovgalyuk had become a fellow with the National Symphony Orchestra and received a scholarship to study music at George Mason University.

“It was amazing how the Lord arranged that,” he said. “I was able to go there and not take any loans out and was able to still live at home with my parents.”

After finishing his bachelor’s and master’s at George Mason, Dovgalyuk earned his Doctor of Musical Arts in Violin Performance from the University of Maryland while continuing to perform with artists and orchestras in the Washington, D.C., area and along the East Coast, primarily. In 2016, while looking for more consistent work to provide for his growing family, he came across Liberty, where he was hired as an adjunct professor teaching applied violin lessons. He traveled to Liberty two days a week and was hired full time a year later, when he moved to Lynchburg with his wife, Kate, and their two children, Misha and Aliya.

Doygaluk has continued to play with the National Symphony Orchestra on a substitute basis, often performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

“I love to go and play with them,” he said. “Most of them are really my friends now, and I’ve played with some of them since 2014.”

One of Dovgalyuk’s favorite memories with the orchestra was somewhat of a foreshadowing of his future with Liberty. In 2014, he joined Michael W. Smith (current director of the Center for Commercial Music at the School of Music) at the Kennedy Center for an evening of worship.

“That memory was and still is so special in my mind. It’s sealed into my memory bank forever,” he said.

Dovgalyuk and Smith have since had the chance to talk when Smith visits campus and instructs students.

“I’ve chatted with him a few times and I’ve reminisced with him about that concert,” Dovgalyuk said.

As impressed as he has been by Liberty’s excellence in every area of academics, Dovgalyuk said he has greatly appreciated the school’s mission to prioritize spiritual well-being along with career advancement.

Dovgalyuk helping to lead worship at a church in 2019

“Soon after coming to Liberty, I was speaking with one of the School of Music’s leaders and I remember him saying, ‘Don’t forget that the purpose of Liberty’s mission is not only to train excellent violinists but also to Train Champions for Christ,’” Dovgalyuk said. “Then he said, ‘You are encouraged to pray with your students and to connect with them on a personal level and take care of them spiritually.’”

“It’s amazing because I’m able to know what is going on in my students’ lives and what they are comfortable sharing about,” he added. “We can pray over those things, including their musical pursuits and other life pursuits.”

Recently, in an effort to raise awareness for those suffering in Ukraine, where some of his relatives reside, Dovgalyuk and some of his students performed “Melody,” by the late Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk, on the violin for a video that the School of Music posted to its social media pages. The piece was written in 1981 by Skoryk to convey his understanding of tragedy and profound sadness. It has since become the spiritual hymn of Ukraine.

“It was such a powerful project to work on,” he said. “The students prepared and performed so well.”

Many of Dovgalyuk’s relatives reside in regions of Ukraine that have so far been spared from the brutal ongoing Russian invasion.

“My family is unharmed but (Liberty) joins the global community of believers to pray in this tragic and devastating war,” he said.

Besides classical music such as Skoryk’s hymn, Dovgalyuk also enjoys other genres.

“It is true that my background is classical and I love classical music,” he said, “but I also love all kinds of genres and one of the main values of the School of Music is stylistic diversity. I really love that because we need to be able to play various genres to be well-rounded musicians.”

In addition to teaching and assisting with the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, and making occasional appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra, Doygalyuk was recently named the Minister of Music at Core Street United Methodist Church in Downtown Lynchburg.

“That has also brought a great opportunity to continue to learn more about the realm of worship music,” he said, “and what worship is and how to engage people … how to share God through music and point them in that direction to Him in all that we do.”