After a triumphant premier on September 25, the acclaimed documentary film “Music of Survival – The Story of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus” returns to Toronto for two additional screenings: Thursday, November 27, at 7 pm and 8:45 pm at Cineplex Queensway Cinemas – tickets available online at: musicofsurvival.com ($20), or at the door that evening ($25 – cash only).
The story of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus is one of courage and true grit – a vivid chronicle that celebrates the human spirit. This is the story of the original seventeen members of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus who survived World War II as an ensemble.
The early Chorus, and the musicians who played bandura had been systematically persecuted during the repressions in the Soviet Union. Hundreds of bandurists went missing and were executed in the 1930’s. The Chorus was nearly wiped out in the early days of WWII – but with a stroke of fate, 17 men re-established the ensemble in Kyiv.
In short order, the Chorus was forcibly transported out of Ukraine by the German occupying authorities, and incarcerated in a labour camp in Germany. In time they were assigned to perform in all the OST (Ostarbeiter) slave labour camps across Germany. The Chorus and their music brought hope to tens of thousands of Ostarbeiters displaced from Eastern Europe, many of whom were children. Their gift of music eventually carried them across the ocean to freedom in 1949. The Chorus thrives to this day upon the foundation these artists forged for future generations.
The film brings out the deepest roots of a fragile tradition, celebrating the resiliency of a music culture that has survived centuries. It provides an educational, informative and compelling perspective – the personal stories of the last two survivors inter cut with the collective history of the bandura throughout the ages. Interwoven with contemporary musical performances, the film illustrates the bandurist as bard, as seer, as spiritual emissary for the soul of the Ukrainian people, then and now, in Ukraine and beyond.
Just as the Ken Burns documentaries on the American Civil War and the history of jazz gave American audiences a deeper understanding of their culture, “Music of Survival” could have a profound impact on international opinion as well as our own national self-image.
Don’t miss this chance to see this historical documentary!