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world music theatre piece based on
winter songs from the Carpathian Mountains
an 18th century nativity show
and solstice songs from around the world

created by Yara Arts Group
directed by Virlana Tkacz,
designed by Watoku Ueno
music directed by Julian Kytasty,
traditional music: Mykhaylo Tafiychuk
movement by Shigeko Suga
December 26, 2010 Sunday, 2:30 & 7:30 PM
La MaMa E.T.C. (Ellen Stewart Theater)
66 East 4th Street, New York

Yara Arts Group will a new event featuring the Koliadnyky, winter song singers from Kryvorivnia (a Ukrainian village in the Hutsul region of the Carpathian Mountains). Winter Sun: A Celebration of Traditional Music from the Carpathians, Puppets and Rituals will be performed twice on Sunday December 26 at 2:30 and 7:30 at La MaMa Experimental Theater, 66 East Fourth Street, in Manhattan's East Village. It features traditional winter songs from the Koliada ritual performed by the Zelenchuk family of singers and musicians from the Carpathian region. The music is directly from the Carpathian winter solstice rituals and a 18th century puppet play from Ukraine.

Koliada is a winter ritual that now coincides with Christmas, but is much older in origin and symbolism. The oldest songs are preserved in villages high in the Carpathian Mountains, where the Koliada is considered to be the most important event of the year. Some people believe that Spring and the harvest will not come to the village unless the songs are sung in every household. The songs are incantations that assume the magical power of words: "what is said, will be so."

Yara Arts Group and the artists from Ukraine will perform Winter Sun, a new show is created by Virlana Tkacz that is based on traditional nativity puppet play. It will feature the Koliadnyky, Yara Arts Group, Aurelia Shrenker, Eva Salina Primack, Kat Yew, Julian Kytast, Alexnder Katrechko, Paul Brantley, Valeriy Zhmud and special guests singing winter songs from around the world. The event includes original videos on the Koliada, samples of a traditional ritual food – kutia, a wheat berry porridge with honey and nuts. Vit Horejs will present a marionette version of the “Snow Maiden.” The event is presented by La MaMa Experimental Theater and Yara Arts Group. Tickets are $25 and available through the La MaMa box office at (212) 475-7710 and

The singers and musicians of Koliadnyky are all from the Carpathian Mountains. Ivan Zelenchuk, is the "bereza," lead singer. He comes from an old Kryvorivnia family and is the son of Ivan Zelenchuk, whose handwritten notebook of winter songs has helped to preserve this tradition despite the persecution under the Soviet rule. Now in his fifties, Ivan considers his involvement in the Koliada his personal mission. Mykola Zelenchuk, the son of Ivan, proudly carries on the tradition of his forefathers, both as a winter song singer and the best trembita (mountain long horn) player in the village. He also makes the traditional costumes for the winter song singers. He has taken part in Yara productions and was featured in its Still the River Flows at La MaMa (2008). Mykola Ilyuk is a master fiddler and plays on most traditional instruments of the Carpathians, including the trembita (mountain long horn). He is director of the renowned Hutsul instrumental ensemble and has his own museum of musical instruments from the area. Vasyl Tymchuk plays the tsymbaly (hammer dulcimer) and teaches children to play Hutsul instruments. Ostap Kostyuk plays the duda (bagpipes) and various flutes and represents the newest generation that has become expert in this ancient tradition.

Instruments played by the Koliadnyky include the trembita (Carpathian mountain horn), which is made of a hollowed pine tree that has been struck by lightning and wrapped in birch bark. Trembitas are used primarily in the mountain pastures. In the villages they are only used during the Koliada and at funerals. Fiddles are played in the Carpathian style. The musicians also play the duda (bagpipes made from a goat), tsymbaly (hammer dulcimer), drumby (jaw harps) and a variety of hand-made Carpathian flutes.

Yara Arts Group began collaborating with traditional artists from the Carpathians in 2003 and has developed performances with them in Kyiv and New York. Products of this collaboration include the theatre pieces Koliada: Twelve Dishes and Still the River Flows at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York. Photographs and video of the koliada ritual in the village of Kryvorivnia have been exhibited at the RA Gallery in Kyiv, La Galleria and Ukrainian Institute in New York, Spring Street Gallery in Saratoga Springs and a major art installation at the Ukrainian Museum in New York. This year Yara celebrated its 20th anniversary and presented its newest show, Scythian Stones, at La MaMa in New York and at international festivals in Kyiv and Kyrgyzstan.

These Koliada events were made possible by Self-Reliance (NY) FCU, La MaMa E.T.C., public funds from New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and Yara Arts Group’s numerous friends and donors.

KOLIADA EVENTS in December 2010

Koliada and Music from the Carpathians
at the Ukrainian Museum in New York, Dec 11, 2010

Koliada and Music from the Carpathians

photos from Ukrainian Museum event

Twelve Dishes/Sviat vechir
at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York December 17, 2010
Friday Dec 17 8PM, Festival of Traditional Song and New Interpretations of Ritual Food
Koliada winter songs, readings by poets and food artist Olesia Lew

About the Koliadnyky of Kryvorivnia

"In Search of the Hutsul Koliada of Kryvorivnia" by Virlana Tkacz


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