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created by Yara Arts Group
at La MaMa E.T.C.
and La Plaza Cultural
Community Garden
in New York City
June 2002

Kolo Project dance around Marena

Yara Arts Group again celebrated Kupala, the Ukrainian pagan Midsummer Night with three events in New York City this June. There were workshops in Ukrainian ritual Midsummer songs an indoor concert with Mariana Sadovska at La MaMa Club, and two evenings of outdoor Midsummer Nights rituals, songs, art and anarchy in a luscious garden situated in the heart of New York.

On Saturday and Sunday June 15 & 16 Mariana Sadovska conducted workshops in traditional Ukrainian ritual midsummer songs. The workshops, open to all who love to sing, were well-attended by both Ukrainians and people of other heritages. To read about one participant's experience at Mariana's Singing Workshop

Mariana Sadovska

Mariana, who is 29, was born in Lviv and worked with Gardzienice Theatre. For the last eleven summers she has been traveling through the villages of Ukraine collecting folk songs and rituals. Last year she was Yara's resident-artist, appeared in two shows with Yara, and conducted a series of workshops in ritual songs that included winter song, early and late spring songs, as well as midsummer songs. Reviewing Mariana Sadovska's concert last spring, the critic for the New York Times wrote: "Sometimes a musician has such an inborn desire to communicate that her message naturally becomes universal. Such is the case with the Ukrainian singer Mariana Sadovska."

Mariana's concert at The Club at La MaMa was on Wednesday, June 26. Mariana performed songs from her CD "Mariana Sadovska: Songs I Learned in Ukraine" which was released last summer by Global Village Music. Reviewing the CD for "Folk World" Eelco Schilder wrote: Mariana Sadovska makes it very clear that she didn't learn these songs from a book but from specific women she met in her life. She realizes that one day she also has to teach these songs to other people so that the tradition lives on. This CD is a first step to make sure the songs won't be forgotten. She accompanies herself on a harmonium… I enjoyed this CD very much and I'm surprised by the way Sadovska is able to give power to her music. Similar praise was voiced by the reviewer for Dirty Linen Magazine: "Mariana Sadovska judiciously overdubs a second vocal a times, and the instrumental accompaniment is limited to a harmonium. The spare presentation suits the songs, which are varied and evocative. Sadovska's vocal quality is fragile compared with that of Bulgarian singers, which lends an engaging, vulnerable quality to the singing. Strongly recommended, especially in view of the dearth of recordings of Ukrainian music."

Audience members float their candles in water

At the Club Mariana performed with musicians Julian Kytasty on bandura, Anthony Coleman on piano, Ted Reichman on accordioon, Doug Wieselman on clarinet and Valeyi Zhmud on violin. Mariana's CD was available at the concert, as well as a new CD she just put together with Yara's assistance called "Song Tree: Village Singers from Polissia and Poltava." This CD features recodings of the village singers who inspired Mariana over the years. Mariana also wove the voices of the women on the "Song Tree" CD into her presentation.

Gypsy dancer Piroshka with Budmo Musical Ensemble

On Saturdays June 22 & 29 at 8 PM at the La Plaza Cultural Community Garden on the SW corner of 9th St and Ave C. Yara presented KUPALA IN THE GARDEN - Midsummer Night Rituals, Songs, Art and Anarchy. Audience members wandered around the garden tying fortunes to a Fortune Tree, making wreaths, drinking love potions, listening to incantations, music and legends. Some had their fortunes told by Jun Kim who read herbs, others heard Eunice Wong tell the story of the fiery fern.

Then Mariana Sadovska performed Ukrainian Midsummer Night Songs, as did Yara artists Iryna Hrechko. Anais Tekerian, Akiko Hiroshima and Megan Wyler sang Latvian and Armerian summer songs, as everyone bid the Goddess of Spring farewell and floated candles in water. Then Allison Hiroto, Akiko Hiroshima and Odarka Polanskyj Stockert performed a Japanese summer song and let audience members pick their fortunes from the Fortune Tree. John Rublowsky entertained the crowd with rousing reditions of old-time Ukrainian fiddling. Natalian Honcharenko sang with the Experimental Bandura Trio and Gypsy dancer Piroshka performed with Budmo Musical Ensemble. The event was assembled by Virlana Tkacz.

Mariana and Yara artists teach the audience a Kupala song

Yara organized indoor and outdoor Kupala celebrations in New York since 1999, and presented a show based on Midsummer ritual songs starring Nina Matvienko called Waterfall/Reflections. Yara is a resident company at the internationally renowned La MaMa Experimental Theatre and is directed by Virlana Tkacz. Yara is a resident company at La MaMa ETC. This program was made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts - Folk Arts Program & the NYC Dept of Cultural Affairs Cultural Challenge Grant.

For info and pics from Yara's Kupala last year Also see Helen Smindak on Yara's Kupala in Ukrainian Weekly.

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