New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
Founded in the brief period of Ukraine’s Independence in 1918, Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America (or UBC) is visiting Toronto with its Centennial concert on November 10. The ensemble traces its origins to the founding of the Kobzar Choir by Vasyl Yemets in 1918. The first concert, in 1918, was at the Bergoni Theatre in Kyiv, currently the Lesia Ukrainka Theatre. During its visit to Kyiv as part of their Centennial Tour of Ukraine in October of 2018, the UBC visited the Lesia Ukrainka Theatre and heard about its history firsthand from the director of the theatre.
This time in Toronto, the first song of the concert will be the first song ever performed by the ensemble, to the words of Taras Shevchenko, Встає хмара (The cloud is rising). This is a true and tried UBC classic with an emotional tune and moving words which speak about Ukraine’s history and people.
The first memories of the UBC for the displaced persons (DP) generation of Canada’s Ukrainian immigrants come from its performances in the DP camps in Germany during and just after WW2. Post WW2, the ensemble settled in North America making Detroit, Michigan its home base in 1949. Initially, the members were from Detroit and the Great Lakes area. Now, they come from all over the continent, from California to Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. They also come from all walks of life – schoolteachers, businessmen, lawyers, electricians, doctors, etc. They strive to continue the tradition of the kobzari of the prior centuries who were the media that would spread the story of Ukraine and its past.
The first half of the concert is a journey through the history of the UBC for the first 100 years, accompanied by narration and visual presentations. The second half is comprised of the tunes anyone would expect to hear at a hundred-years anniversary, the greatest hits and fan favourites.
The concert is a continuation of UBC’s centennial celebrations. The celebrations started in 2015 with the concert in the Massey Hall with Ruslana and continued with Kobzari, the joint performance with Ukrainian Shumka Dancers, in 2017. The trip to Ukraine in 2018 was not just a concert tour, it was an engaged journey where the UBC participated in outreach projects ranging from elementary school visits to conservatory master classes, museum presentations to military hospital visits connected to more of Ukraine’s bandura world and visited ensembles and schools across the country including singing liturgical responses at the St. Volodymyr Orthodox Sobor (Kyiv) and the St. George Catholic Sobor (Lviv). The UBC also reunited with National bandurist capella of Ukraine in a historic capacity-filled joint concert held at the Ivan Franko Theatre in Kyiv. In total, the UBC presented to over 5,000 people in the cities of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Rivne, Berestechko, Lutsk, and Lviv.
The UBC centennial celebrations also included concerts across North America. Most recently, the ensemble was in New York City at Lincoln Center along with concerts in Minneapolis and Detroit over the past months. A Western Canadian Centennial tour is planned for the spring of 2020.
UBC’s Centennial Concert will take place on November 10 at Koerner Hall at Royal Conservatory of Music at 2 pm.