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Koliada and Hutsul Music

Winter Songs from the the Carpathian Mountains

Sunday, December 7 at 2:00 PM
Ukrainian Museum 222 E 6th St New York (212) 228-0110

The Koliadnyky entered with mountain horns and sang the traditional Hutsul koliada. The Koliada songs are part of a winter ritual that now coincides with Christmas, but is much older in origin and symbolism. It is considered to be the most important event of the year, since people believe that spring and the harvest will not come to the village unless these songs are sung in every household. A separate winter song is sung to the household, both living and deceased. The songs are incantations that assume the magical power of words: “what is said, will be so.”
More on the Hutsul Koliada Ritual

Ivan Zelenchuk is lead singer of the Koliadnyky. His father’s handwritten notebook of winter songs helped preserve this tradition in the village despite intense persecution under fifty years of Soviet rule in this area. Ivan met the members of Yara when they first visited the village in 2002. Afterwards he took part in Yara’s Koliada theatre productions in Kyiv in New York at La MaMa Theatre. Singing with Ivan Zelenchuk, was his brother Peter Zelenchuk and his son Mykola Zelenchuk, who plays the trembita, the traditional twelve-foot long mountain horn.

The Zelenchuks were accompanied by Mykhailo Tafiychuk the best musician, musical instrument-maker and blacksmith in the Carpathians. He has legendary “golden hands” and plays all the instruments he makes. Mr. Tafiychuk performed on violin, as well as on various flutes and the lira, a hurdy-gurdy, that he had made himself. He was joined by his son Dmytro Tafiychuk, a traditional fiddler and player of the duda, bag pipes made of goat skin.

Featured in the program were Svitanya, a women's vocal ensemble that sings a wide range of traditional folk music from across Eastern Europe, in the original languages. Based in Philadelphia, Svitanya – whose name means "the light at sunrise" – has performed throughout the East Coast and is part of Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour. The group's CD, "First Light" has been played on radio in more than a dozen countries. Members of Svitanya performing at the Ukrainian Museum were Anne Ehrhart, Laura Howson, Mary Kalyna and Chrissy Steele. They sang winter songs from Bulgaria, Croatia and Ukraine.

The Koliadnyky were joined by violinist Valeriy Zhmud and bandurist Julian Kytasty. Virlana Tkacz directed the show. A final koliada was sung to the "Lady of the House" the director of the Ukrainian Museum -- Maria Shust.

Yara Arts Group began its collaboration with traditional artists from the Carpathians in 1995. In 2003 and 2004, Yara artists recorded the winter song ritual in Kryvorivnia and the surrounding villages. Yara is a resident company at the internationally renowned La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York. Since 1990 Yara has created nineteen international collaborative cultural projects with traditional artists from Eastern Europe and Siberia. Since 1996, Yara has also worked on theater pieces with actors from Kyrgyzstan and Buryat artists from Siberia. This was the ninth event that Yara has presented at the Ukrainian Museum since the new building opened in 2005. In the winter of 2005-06 Yara artists created the installation Still the River Flows for the Ukrainian Museum based on the koliada ritual they witnessed in Kryvorivnia. The project was conceived by Watoku Ueno and Virlana Tkacz and included photographs by Alexander Khantaev, video by Andrea Odezynska and translations by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps.

This program was made possible by Self Reliance (NY) FCU, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and numerous friends of Yara Arts Group. Svitanya’s performance is supported by Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour. The Koliadnyky have found a home in NY thanks to Ellen Stewart and La MaMa Experimental Theatre.

Translation of a Koliada or winter song

Related Events in December 2008

Winter Sun: New Art and Tradition
at Ukrainian Institute of America in New York December 19-21, 2008
see pictures and reviews from previous event
Friday Dec 19 8PM Exhibit opening: works of contemporary artists
Saturday Dec 20 8PM Gala concert, readings by poets and new culinary interpretations of ritual food
Saturday afternoon December 20 Seminar & Workshop in Hutsul music and winter songs

Still the River Flows a theatrical celebration featuring Nativity puppets,
Carpathian musicians and winter song singers from around the world
at La MaMa Experimental Theatre New York Dec 26-28, 2008

Koliada: Photographs by Alexander Khantaev at Spring Street Gallery, Saratoga Springs, NY Dec 17, 2006 to Jan 5, 2007
Workshop in Winter Song Singing with Koliadnyky, Alexis Kochan and Julian Kytasty in New York Dec 16, 2006
Koliada on Fifth Avenue Art and Music Festival and pictures and reveiws Friday Dec 19 8PM Exhibit opening: works of contemporary artists
at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York December 15, 2006
Still the River Flows installation and concert Ukrainian League of Philadelphia, December 8-10, 2006
Koliadnyky in Concert at the Ukrainian Museum in New York, Dec 3, 2006
Still the River Flows installation at the Ukrainian Museum, reviews and photographs December 11, 2005 - February 6, 2006
Koliadnyky of Kryvorivnia in Concert at La MaMa Galleria March 16, 2005
Koliada: Winter Rituals photo exhibit and video installation at La MaMa Galleria January 15-23, 2005
Koliada: Twelve Dishes information on theatre piece, reviews and photographs at La MaMa ETC March 4-20, 2005
Koliada theatre workshop at Les Kurbas National Theatre Center, Kyiv, Ukraine December 4-5, 2004

All photos on this page by Virlana Tkacz. Copyright (c)1995-2008 Yara Arts Group; all rights reserved.

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