Koliada Project – Yara Arts Group
by Victor Mishalow
December Toronto saw a world music theatre piece entitled “Midwinter Night:
Sacred and Profane Rituals” performed in the beautiful Enwave Theatre at
Five traditional folk musicians were brought from the
In the first part we heard the oldest Ukrainian koliadas, or winter songs, about the creation of the sun, moon and stars, first recorded in 1693. We were also treated to instrumentals played on such ancient folk instruments as the dentsivka, tylynka, sopilka and trembita.
The second section was a staging of a 18th
century Nativity play, or vertep, with the artists portraying angels,
shepherds, three wise men, Herod, the soothsayer, Rachel, Death and the Devil.
Music for this section included rarely performed Baroque carols arranged by
composer Julian Kytasty. They were sung by a chorus of artists from all the
groups accompanied by violin, cello, flute, sopilka and bandura in a baroque
style from 17th century
The third part included ancient ritual goat songs by the Lemon Bucket Orkestra with a hilarious performance by Stephania Wolodshyn as the goat. Afterwards, the Lemon Bucket Orkestra and the Hutsuls performed a series of koliadas and instrumentals with a rousing finale with the audience dancing in the aisles and on stage.
In addition to the various banduras played by Julian Kytasty, other rare Ukrainian folk instruments included the hammer dulcimer (tsymbaly), the mountain horn (trembita), bagpipes, drymby (jaw harps) and a variety of flutes, including a masterful performance on the telynka, or overtone flute. These instruments are rarely played, and it was a treat to hear such accomplished performers. In today’s digital age how fresh it is to hear an acoustic performance played with such passion.
After the final performance there was a party at the
Bezpala-Brown Gallery (
The sponsors of this project should be thanked. The participants and the audience obviously experienced spiritual elevation. Director Virlana Tkacz and her artistic team have set a new standard in presenting our traditions in elegant and energetic interpretations by contemporary artists on the world stage. We want more, and we want it now.