Ukrainian Music Festival’s 49th annual competition

Scholarship award winners 2019 at the 49th Ukrainian Music Festival

Irena Patten for New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

Yes, the Ukrainian Music Festival (UMF) conducted its 49th annual competition on December 6,7, and the closing concert on December 8, 2019. Over three days young musicians played piano, violin, bandura, sopilka and voice – in solo, duets or ensembles.

The UMF has had the same format since its inception 49 years ago. It was based on Kiwanis and other festivals and carefully devised by the music visionary and founder of the Ukrainian Music Festival – Marta Krawciw-Barabash, whose goal was to introduce and integrate music of Ukrainian composers into the mainstream music repertoire. As such UMF continues to this day, now under the capable leadership of Mika Barabash-Shepherd. Young musicians learn pieces by Ukrainian composers. Professional adjudicators, experts each in their own right, listen, evaluate, and offer guidance and feedback to each young student. The best performers are invited to perform at the Final Concert of each annual Festival. To this concert not only family, teachers, and donors, but the general public is invited.

The UMF participants are from Canada and the USA. The requirement is to perform by memory, exclusively works of Ukrainian composers. The students master Ukrainian compositions and Ukrainian compositions become accepted in the Royal Conservatory syllabus. For many years the Festival has been dedicated to a specific Ukrainian composers. However this year the honour was bestowed on the bandura – the Ukrainian historic string instrument which dates back to the 10th century. It was first played mostly by blind minstrels who travelled from town to town and sang ballads and songs voicing joyful or sorrowful facets of Ukraine’s history. Over time the bandura evolved into an intricate part of Ukraine’s history and is now the soul of its people. Its shape changed slightly over time. It has from 32 to 68 strings of various lengths. Presently, the bandura, in solo to ensembles in any configuration, holds a prestigious place in mainstream Ukrainian music life.

The organizing committee of the 49th Ukrainian Music Festival

This year’s Festival, as always, was adjudicated by outstanding professionals.

Prof. Ireneus Zuk – again returned to adjudicate piano performances. A renowned pianist, with a Doctorate from John’s Hopkins University and Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, he is a former director of Music at Queens University in Kingston, and a performer on occasion with his sister Luba, just to mention a few of his numerous achievements.

Antonina Ermolenko – Ukraine-born Canadian soprano holds a degree in Vocal Performance from the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music, and a Masters from Hunter College, CUNY in New York. Her performances take her to Europe, Canada and the USA. A dedicated educator, she is sharing her knowledge and passion with a new generation of artists.

Andriy Dmytrovych – Adjudicated students of bandura and sopilka. A graduate of Moldova National Conservatory of Conducting, he is a recipient of the Fulbright Foundation Scholarship, Conductor of the National Theatre Orchestra, Teleradio Orchestra in Moldova, and winner of numerous awards in Europe.

Ines Pagliari – a graduate of U of T Faculty of Music and recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, she has adjudicated at various string festivals and panels.

She is the director and owner of Beaches Suzuki School of Music, and member of the Suzuki Association of Music of the Americas and the Suzuki Association.

Con Grace Violin Ensemble (Dir. O. Konopada)

The final concert of the 49th UMF showcased twenty-eight of the best performances of this year’s festival. Participants from ages six to eighteen performed. Solo and ensemble performances in voice, piano, violin, bandura and sopilka, representing compositions by over twenty different Ukrainian composers, created a very enjoyable afternoon of polished presentations. The final concert participants were rewarded with certificates and scholarships totalling over $4,300. The adjudicators consistently commented on the year to year improvement of the students, and frequently notice the improvement even between their original performance with their age group, and their performance at the Concert of Finalists.

We extend a special thank-you to our sponsors – Shevchenko Foundation, Prometheus Foundation, Ukrainian Credit Union, Buduchnist Financial and Mrs. Mary Pidkowich.

The UMF will be celebrating its 50th anniversary on December 4, 5, and 6, 2020

The organizing committee is diligently planning a very special festival.

Details will be announced in the spring.

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Daria Shwedyk plays the bandura