On the occasion of its 100th anniversary, the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America presented a charity concert for the UCU community. During its anniversary tour, the group is visiting not only Lviv but also Kyiv, Chernihiv, Lutsk, and other cities of Ukraine.
During the concert in the University Church of the Holy Wisdom of God, the chorus performed some 10 songs, and at the end the UCU community stood and sang together with the chorus “Bozhe, Velykyi, Yednyi.”
The group has more than 600 songs in its repertoire, including religious and infantry and resistance songs. The singing of the men’s chorus is accompanied by bandura playing, which director Oleh Mahlay calls a window to Ukraine: “Most people in the States can barely find Ukraine on the map, but when they hear the bandura, they get acquainted with our culture and marvel at its beauty.”
The Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus has a complicated and interesting history, which started in Kyiv in 1918. At that time, Vasyl Yemets created the Kobzar Chorus, which in 1935 joined with the Poltava Bandurist Chorus under the direction of Hnat Khotkevych and Volodymyr Kabachko. But eventually, because of repression, the Second World War, and immigration, the history of the chorus continues from 1949 in Detroit (USA). Since those times, the chorus has performed in North America, Australia, Europe, and Ukraine. Thanking the group for fostering Ukrainian singing, the Vice-Rector for Communications and Development, Natalia Klymovska, compared the chorus’s thorny 100-year path with the difficult 90-year history of UCU, which is the heir of the Greek-Catholic Theological Academy, founded by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky in 1928. “You are this history of the Ukrainian people in song,” she added.
Artistic director and conductor Oleh Mahlay says that there are no professional musicians in his group: “These are ordinary people – dentists, construction workers, students – and, regardless of that, they are ready to invest their talent, time, and money so that the chorus exists and the world sees what Ukrainian culture and music is.” Oleh Mahlay himself, in addition to conducting and teaching at a school for bandura players, is a judge at an administrative court in the state of Ohio (USA).
Prepared by Kateryna Hlushchenko