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Tradition and New Interpretations

Yara Arts Group and the Ukrainian Institute of America present:

• the traditional koliada, or winter song ritual performed by Koliadnyky of Kryvorivnia
and "troista" muscians from the Carpathian Mountains,
• interpretation of the ancient koliada (winter songs)
by musicians, singers and writers
• a taste of the ritual twelve dishes by food artist Olesia Lew

Friday, December 17, 2010 at 8 PM
Ukrainian Institute of America
2 East 79th Street (at Fifth Avenue), New York City

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. Traditionally, the ritual starts outdoors, when the koliadnyky (or singers) blow their mountain horns and wait to be invited inside by the master of the house. The audience will hear the mountain horns and will follow the winter song singers into the space set like a long table. Separate winter songs (or koliada ) will be sung to the household and taste of the twelve ritual dishes will be served during the performance.

The Koliadnyky will sing the traditional koliada. Ivan Zelenchuk is lead singer and leader of the Koliadnyky of Kryvorivnia. Singing with him will be his son Mykola Zelenchukas well as the brilliant troista instrumentalists Mykhailo Ilyuk, Vasyl Tymchuk, and Ostap Kostyuk. They will be joined by Yara singers Cecilia Arana, Aurelia Shrenker, Eva Salina Primack and Kat Yew. Violinist Valerie Zhmud and bandurist Julian Kytasty will join the Koliadnyky for several Christmas for the event in the beautiful Fifth Avenue Mansion. There will also be premiere performances of poetry written for the occassion by Bob Holman, Vasyl Makhno and Olena Jennings. An important component of the winter ritual is a ritual dinner of twelve dishes. Food artist Olesia Lew will present new interpretations of these ritual dishes for the audience to taste. For more on Hutsul Koliada Ritual

Ivan Zelenchuk, is the “bereza,” lead singer of the Koliadnyky. 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 Still the River Flows New York at La MaMa Mykola Ilyuk is a master fiddler and plays on most traditional instruments of the Carpathians, including the wolynka (bagpipes) and the trembita (mountain long horn). The director of the renowned Hutsul instrumental ensemble, he has his own museum of musical instruments from the area. Vasyl Tymchuk plays the tsymbaly (hammer dulcimer) and other Hutsul instruments. Ostap Kostyuk plays flutes and represents the newest generation that has become expert in this ancient tradition.

Instruments played by the koliadnyky include Trembita – (Carpathian mountain horn) made of 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. Fiddle -- played in the Carpathian style. The Musicians also play duda -- (bag pipe) made from a goat and tsymbaly -- (hammer dulcimer) and a variety of hand-made Carpathian flutes.

Yara Arts Group began its collaboration with traditional artists from the Carpathians in 2003, and has developed into performances in Kyiv, and New York, as well as 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 Kiev, 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 Scythian Stones at international festivals in Kyiv and Kyrgyzstan.

These events were made possible by Self-Reliance (NY) FCU, public funds from New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, La MaMa Experimental Theatre and Yara Arts Group’s numerous friends and donors.

Translation of a Koliada or winter song

Related Events in December 2010

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

Winter Sun a theatrical celebration featuring
Carpathian musicians and winter song singers from around the world
at La MaMa Experimental Theatre, New York Sunday Dec 26, 2010

About the Koliadnyky of Kryvorivnia

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


Still the River Flows a theatrical celebration featuring
Carpathian musicians and winter song singers from around the world
at La MaMa Experimental Theatre, New York Dec 26-28, 2008 see pictures and reviews
Winter Sun: New Art and Tradition at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York December 19-21, 2008
Exhibit of works by contemporary artists, concert, readings by poets and new interpretations of ritual food, workshop in Hutsul music
Koliada and Hutsul Music at the Ukrainian Museum in New York, Dec 7, 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 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

above: Roman Hrab's sculpture inspired by the winter song "Before the World Began," Halyna Zakhariasevych-Lypa's guache inspired by winter song "The Peacock Struts," and photograph by Watoku Ueno of the winter song singers Ivan Zelenchuk and Dmytro Tafiychuk.
Translation of a Koliada Song.
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