Show Info: Northern

Shumka Ukrainian Dancers Present - KOBZARI

Shumka Ukrainian Dancers Present - KOBZARI
April 8 - 7:30PM
April 9 - 2:00PM

EDMONTON: In a historic first, two of North America's premier Ukrainian performing arts ensembles present an evening of song, music, dance and bandura. Celebrating the legacy of Ukraine's national poet Taras Shevchenko, the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America and Canada's Ukrainian Shumka Dancers will stage joint performances in Toronto (March 18, 2017), Windsor (March 19, 2017) and Edmonton (April 8 & 9, 2017).

The Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America (UBC) has had Taras Shevchenko as its patron for almost all its 100- year history. Furthermore, musical works arranged around the words of Shevchenko's poems have been central to the UBC's repertoire. Through the strings of their banduras and male voice chorus, the UBC has brought to life the already-moving lyrics penned by Ukraine's national poet. Since the UBC's inception in 1918, songs like Reve ta Stohne, Dumy Moyi, and Zapovit along with dozens of his other poems have been performed by the UBC in concert halls across North America, Western Europe, Ukraine and Australia. A recently released UBC recording, 'Brothers, We Shall Live' - '?????, ????? ????!' (2015) is dedicated exclusively to songs arranged to the words of Shevchenko's poems.

"We are excited to share the stage with the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers, an organization who shares our passion for Ukrainian history, song and music," says UBC Artistic Director and Conductor Oleh Mahlay. "Shumka's KOBZAR brings to life the importance of Taras Shevchenko to people of Ukraine and around the world. This is close to home for us, as songs written to the words of Shevchenko's poems have been a core part of our repertoire since our beginnings a century ago. It is truly fitting the great artistic and spiritual legacy of the great Ukrainian bard brings our two storied ensembles together - and reminding us, more than two centuries after his birth, the deep impact Shevchenko can still have on humanity."

Also inspired by Shevchenko, the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers' newest piece, entitled KOBZAR, uses folk and character dance to bring his poignant message to the stage. A kobzar was an itinerant Ukrainian bard who sang to his own accompaniment played on a multi-stringed bandura or kobza. Kobzar is also the name of Shevchenko's famous book of poems, often referred to as his 'literary monument to freedom.' Its first editions - published in 1840 - were censored by the czar, but prevailed to play a key role in galvanizing the Ukrainian identity even to this day.

"Taras Shevchenko was an artist, a poet…a visionary. He was - and remains - the conscience and the voice of the Ukrainian people," says Shumka Creative Director John Pichlyk. In KOBZAR, Shumka wishes to honour the poet's gift and to extend his voice through the movement, visuals and music of a dance theatre production. The vast legacy of Shevchenko's work - specifically, the universal relevance of his words - inspired Shumka to probe not only the power of his voice in his own time, but to explore its relevance in the world today."

Basing its narrative on four 'pillars' of Shevchenko's thought - destiny, soul, courage and hope - Shumka explores the timelessness of his expression. Premiered in April of 2016, KOBZAR delves into the emotional struggle of many of the world's nations as they strive to break free from oppression and unite in hope to fulfill their destiny. Under the creative direction of Shumka's John Pichlyk, KOBZAR's artistic team includes choreographic lead Viktor Lytvynov, music composer Yuri Shevchenko, costume designer Maria Levytska and visual artist (for stage projections) Valeriy Semenko.


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