Sunday, 21 September 2014

Dnipro Choir in Calgary September 27,2014

After Calgary's snow dump of September 2014 the warm weather has returned. Gardeners across the city are busily cleaning up broken branches, and salvaging vegetables that survived the thick blanket of snow. As I picked my kiwi's (thrilled with my little bowl of green grape size babies), pondered over the grapes (they will become raisins this year), collect the last few tomatoes that hid from the cold, and pick the frozen raspberries left on the branch, I start singing. Of course, the garden songs are usually my favorite Ukrainian folk songs. My heart fills with warmth, my ears remember the resonant harmonies of friends singing together and.....

There is a compassion bred of being connected to the Ukrainian idea, but there is a deeper spiritual and soulful connection that warms the heart when choristers synchronize their hearts, minds and breath. And anybody who knows Edmonton's Ukrainian community recognizes there is something special about its embrace. Part of the hromada's resilience, in my opinion, has to do with the feeling of gratitude, and feeling of belonging fostered through choral singing. And Edmonton's Ukrainian Dnipro Choir is celebrating its 60th anniversary of music making by bringing their Musical Kaleidoscope to Calgary on Saturday, September 27, 2014 at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer in Calgary, located on the corner of 7th avenue and 1st Street.

Dnipro Choir presents an all Canadian program featuring the choral works of Canadians of Ukrainian heritage: Serhiy Eremenko, Yuri Fiala, Roman Hurko, Oleksander Koshets, Larysa Kuzmenko, Zenoby Lawryshyn, Denis Lucyshyn, Joanna Estelle-Storoschuk, and Willi Zwozdesky.

Is it possible that this wonderfully diverse Ukrainian community has been breathing together, synchronizing their heartbeats, and harmonizing, and sharing the pleasures of Ukrainian choral music for 6 decades? And going strong!!  Sixty years of choral programs, sixty years of eager singers, sixty years of printed music, sixty years of musical leadership, and sixty years of choral excellence. For more information check

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Wear Your Sorochka

In the mad press that is contemporary life, it takes courage to stand still for a moment and consider what is real, what will become of all the mad activity. My personal life has been a blur of colours, fast paced interactions, effective and less effective tumultuous volleys into the fray. Busy life, with really important priorities. So I have been trying to select the opportune moment to return to blogging, astounded, as everyone seems to be, with the public media frenzy around Ukraine and her aspirations in the 21st century.

Recent events in Ukraine have certainly impressed upon the world how difficult it has been for Ukraine to thread the needle under her neighbor's watchful eyes lately.  The intensely woven grid of social and public media has many millions of common minded people contributing their strong feelings about her independence, sovereignty and freedom.

Public awareness perhaps, but most have no awareness of the 360 degrees (years) of courage shown by the people of Ukraine.  What to understand of the three centuries of government bans on language, culture and ethnic awareness?  What to say of three centuries of smiles, stage presence, traditional embroideries, joyous singing, delicious traditional foods served to guests both trusted and not, resolutely and steadfastly presenting a brave face in spite of threats, danger and pain. Call it folly, call it bravery? 

Threading the needle has been difficult for Ukraine, but time continues to weave its tapestry.  The common thread (pun intended) is the Ukrainian blouse.  It is everywhere, including the fashion runways of late.  Why the sorochka?

I have always had a hunch that, like so much of the Ukrainian ethos, and much like Ukrainian folk songs, ancient Ukrainian embroideries encrypt sensitive information, perhaps powerful language or symbols for survival. Images of physical and mystical trials, the emblems, amulets, symbols and patterns are endowed with great power. The sorochka (embroidered blouse) confers on the wearer the collective aspirations of heroes past. 

What of the quiet weavers, threading their needles in silence at home?  Perhaps theirs is the true power, not the sword, not the pen, but the single thread that embroiders the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a people into an armour that empowers community identity.  

Do you know who you are wearing?  

(ідеальний настрій на полотні створили Роман та Марія Федини)