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KOLIADA Winter Rituals from the Carpathians

three different events created by Yara Arts Group
featuring ancient ritual singing, as well as modern interpretations

December 11, 2010 Saturday, 7:00 PM
Koliada and Music from the Carpathians
Ukrainian Museum
222 East 6th St, New York
$15/10; (212) 228-0110

December 17, 2010 Friday, 8:00 PM
Twelve Dishes/Sviat vechir
Ukrainian Institute of America
2 East 79th Street, New York
$25; (212) 288-8660

December 26, 2010 Sunday, 2:30 & 7:30 PM
Winter Sun: A Celebration of Traditional Music from the Carpathians
with Music, Puppets, Videos and Ritual Food

La MaMa E.T.C. (Ellen Stewart Theater)
66 East 4th Street, New York
$25; (212) 475-7710,

Yara Arts Group will offer three different events featuring the Koliadnyky, an ensemble of winter song singers from Kryvorivnia (a Ukrainian village in the Hutsul region of the Carpathian Mountains). The first will be a concert of the ancient songs at the Ukrainian museum. The second will be Twelve Dishes/Sviat vechir on December 17 at 8:00 PM at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York, 2 East 79th Street, on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The third will be Winter Sun: A Celebration of Traditional Music from the Carpathians, Puppets and Rituals on December 26 at La MaMa Experimental Theater, 66 East Fourth Street, in Manhattan's East Village. The events will feature traditional winter songs from the Koliada ritual, featuring the Zelenchuk family of singers and musicians from the Carpathian region. The music of the concerts comes directly from the Carpathian winter solstice rituals.

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."

On Saturday, December 11 at 7:00 PM Yara will present Koliada and Music from the Carpathians at the Ukrainian Museum in New York. The Koliadnyky will sing traditional winter songs from the villages of Kryvorivnia and Verkhovyna. The event will also feature the brilliant troista instrumental music from the Charpathians. Violinist Valerie Zhmud and bandurist Julian Kytasty will join the Koliadnyky for several Christmas carols and instrumental number.

On Friday December 17 at 8:00 PM, Yara Arts Group will present the Koliadnyky singing traditional winter songs from the villages of Kryvorivnia and Verkhovyna in Twelve Dishes/Sviat vechir, a special event at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York, 2 East 79th Street. The evening will include brilliant troista instrumental music from the Carpathian Mountains by Mykola Ilyuk, Vasyl Tymchuk and Ostap Kostyuk. Singers Cecilia Arana, Aurelia Shrenker, Eva Salina Primack, 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 performances of poetry 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. Tickets are $25 and available at the door. For information call The Ukrainian Institute (212) 288-8660.

On Sunday, December 26 at 2:30 PM and 7:30 PM, Yara Arts Group and a collection of international artists will perform Winter Sun: A Celebration of Traditional Music from the Carpathians, at the Ellen Stewart Theater of La MaMa Experimental Theater Club, located at 66 East Fourth Street. This new show is created by Virlana Tkacz and based on traditional nativity puppet play will feature the Koliadnyky, Yara Arts Group, Aurelia Shrenker, Eva Salina Primack, Julian Kytasty, Kat Yew, Valeriy Zhmud and special guests with 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.

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

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


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