Marco Levytsky, NP-UN Western Bureau.
A chance encounter during the screening of “Myth” in Edmonton, March 19, provided Orest Slipak, brother of the subject of the movie with some rare archival photos of singer Wassyl Slipak during Dudaryk’s 1990 North American Tour.
Following the showing of the Leonid Kanter and Ivan Yasnij documentary, which tells the story of the life and death of Wassyl Slipak, an opera singer with a worldwide reputation and a unique voice, who left his career in Europe and joined the ranks of volunteers when the war came to his native Ukraine, Orest Slipak told the audience he was looking for photos and information about his brother’s 1990 stay in Edmonton with the Dudaryk choir.
One member of the audience, Mark Kachmar, recalled members of Dudaryk stayed with them and had photos of that visit in their family album. He contacted his mother who confirmed that they still had the photos, drove to her house, then back to St. John’s Ukrainian Cultural Centre, where he showed them to Orest.
“I couldn’t believe how much of a reaction he got from seeing his brother on those photos. He was just extremely excited,” Kachmar told New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
“I understood that Orest was retracing his brother’s steps in Canada and for him it was an emotional trip and those photos meant a lot to him. He told me that he never seen these photos. He was really surprised,” he added.
Kachmar said prior the to showing, he had no idea who Wassyl Slipak was, but heard that “Myth” was an important movie and wanted to see it.
“To me it was all just a story about chance … just a chance encounter I had no idea that Slipak had been in in our house and through that movie it all came together,” he said.
Kachmar, who was 12 at the time of the visit, while Slipak was 15, recalls that they spent a lot of time taking the Dudaryk members around Edmonton showing them how they lived.
Born in 1974 in Lviv Oblast, Wassyl Slipak liked to sing since his childhood. At the age of 11, he joined Dudaryk. After that, he continued his education at the Lviv Conservatory. During his education, Slipak participated in a vocal contest in the French city of Clermont, winning the contest. In 1996, Slipak received an invitation to perform at Opéra Bastille in Paris. In 1997 Slipak graduated from the Lysenko Music Academy in Lviv and then was invited to the Paris Opera where he became an opera singer. By 2011, he was at the top of his field, winning the prize for best male performer at the Armel Opera Competition and Festival in Szeged, Hungary, for his rendering of the Toreador Song from the opera Carmen.
But when the Revolution of Dignity erupted in 2013, Wassyl was transformed, leading the demonstrations and the Volunteer movement in France. It would seem he had done enough. But Wassyl decided to leave the scene and the career in Europe and join the ranks of volunteers when a war came to his native Ukraine. His favorite aria is the aria of Mephistopheles. Just from the name of this character Wassyl later took a pseudonym – Myth. Wassyl “Myth” Slipak heroically died from a sniper ball during the execution of the combat mission.
The documentary “Myth” opened its Canadian tour, which was organized by Dopomoha Ukraini – Aid to Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, in Toronto February 28 and closed in that same city April 1, with premieres in 17 other cities in between. Writing in the March 13 issue of New Pathway – Ukrainian News, columnist Walter Kish stated: “It is more than just a documentary film about Ukraine’s current struggles. It is a film about the more universal theme of what motivates some humans to do truly extraordinary and heroic deeds.”
Dudaryk toured North America between May 30 and July 24, 1990 and performed at Edmonton’s Northern Jubilee Auditorium on June 29, 1990 – a concert sponsored by the Dnipro Choir.
As noted by Ukrainian News at that time:
“Dudaryk Ukrainian Boys’ Choir, formed in 1971, is an a Capella choral ensemble whose members range in age from 8-29. From young schoolboys to graduate students, all are united in their love of song and the camaraderie that springs from a deeply shared interest in the creation of beautiful choral music. The result is that rare outpouring of inspired singing that elevates world-class choirs above all others.”