Dumka Choir

New York

Bohdan Sikora performs as a soloist in 1998


The New York School of Bandura performs in tribute to Taras Shevchenko.

The Ukranian Weekly Vol. LXVI NO. 15. Sunday, April 12, 1998

New York – Thirty-five students of the New York School of Bandura directed by Julian Kytasty kicked off this year’s concert in honor of Taras Shevchenko in New York City on the rainy afternoon of Sunday, March 8, at Public School 19 in New York’s East Village.

Two hours before the 2 p.m. curtain, dozens of students and parents began congregating at the school. A stream of cars pulled up in front of the school, each with its load of young bandurists excited about what, for most of them, would be their first public performance. The students came from groups that meet weekly for lessons throughout the year in the Metropolitan area: New York School of Bandura (NYSB) groups in Yonkers, Astoria and St. George’s School in the city, the bandura group of SUM-A (New York), as well as some private students.

It has been over a decade since the New York area has seen such a resurgence of interest in Ukraine’s national instrument. The young people coming together to honor Shevchenko by demonstrating their first accomplishments on the instrument he immortalized included many who were not yet born when the NYSB last assembled large performing ensembles.

The groups had worked on their own since the fall to master bandura fundamentals under the tutelage of Mr. Kytasty (Yonkers, St. George’s School) and instructor Alla Kucevych (Astoria, SUM-A). In the weeks immediately pro- ceding the performance, each group learned the music on its own. Now there would be one short rehearsal on stage before the concert.

Order gradually came out of chaos as the students were brought up on the stage one group at a time and seated. Mr. Kytasty and Ms. Kucevych took their places in the front row. A quick count-in, and suddenly the hall was filled with the sound of 35 instruments. Mr. Kytasty took the students through each piece on the program to get them used to playing together, and then it was time to turn the stage over to the Dumka Choir for their rehearsal and warm-up.

The New York School of Bandura performs in tribute to Taras Shevchenko.

An hour later, with the audience in their seats, the young bandurists filed back to their places on stage. Their program began with a “Kozachok.” a traditional instrumental melody from the repertoire of Kost Miscvych, a bandurist of the 1930s who taught many of the players who brought the instrument to New York after the war and in whose honor the New York School of Bandura is named.

The Astoria group and the SUM-A bandurists performed the song “Sopilka.” Next came the lullaby “Oi Khodyt Son.” performed by the group from St. George’s School joined by four young students from Yonkers. Then the full ensemble picked up their instruments again for the concluding piece, “Metelytsia,” another instrumental dance melody from the traditional bandura repertoire.

The concert continued with performances by tenor Bohdan Sikora, Mr. Kiytasty, actor Volodymyr Kornylo and the Dumka Choir.

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