Midwinter NightSacred & Profane Rituals
World Music Theatre piece with traditional Carpathian winter songs,
directed by Virlana Tkacz
“Midwinter Night: Sacred and Profane Rituals” is a World Music Theater piece that includes the Koliadnyky, an ensemble of winter song singers from Kryvorivnia, Ukraine; an 18th century Baroque Nativity Folk Opera staged by Yara Arts Group and Goat Songs by the explosive Lemon Bucket Orkestra, a Ukrainian-klezmer-gypsy-punk super band from Toronto, bringing together the most authentic Ukrainian traditions and presenting them with elegant and energetic interpretations by contemporary artists.
The evening, created and directed by Yara's Artistic Director Virlana Tkacz, celebrates Koliada, a winter ritual that now coincides with Christmas but is much older in origin and symbolism. Its 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." These songs are featured in the first part of Yara's show. For the second part of the event, Virlana Tkacz, has adapted and translated a Baroque folk Nativity Play from Ukraine. A highlight is the original 18th century music, as arranged by Julian Kytasty. The third part of the evening offers raucous Goat Songs, celebrating the passing of the old year and its rebirth as the new. A goat dances, dies and is brought back to life because people believed, "where the goat will dance, that's where wheat will grow."
Instruments played by the Koliadnyky are distinctive. The trembita (Carpathian mountain horn) 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 villages they are only used during the Koliada. Fiddles are played in the Carpathian style. The musicians also play the duda (bagpipes made from a goat), tsymbaly (hammer dulcimer), drumby (jaw harp) and a variety of hand-made Carpathian flutes.
The singers and musicians of the Koliadnyky are from Kryvorivnia, a Ukrainian village in the Hutsul region of the Carpathian Mountains. Ivan Zelenchuk is the "bereza," or lead singer. He comes from an old Kryvorivnia family and is the son of the man whose handwritten notebook of winter songs has helped to preserve this tradition despite persecution under Soviet rule. Now in his sixties, 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 previous Yara productions and was featured in its “Still the River Flows,” “Winter Sun” and “Midwinter Night” at La MaMa in New York. Mykola Ilyuk is a master fiddler and plays on most of the traditional instruments of the Carpathians, including the trembita. He is director of the renowned Hutsul instrumental ensemble and has his own museum of musical instruments from the area. He was in Yara's “Winter Sun”, “Midwinter Night” and related Koliada events. Vasyl Tymchuk plays the tsymbaly and teaches children to play Hutsul instruments. He has worked with Yara since 2010. Ostap Kostyuk plays the duda and various flutes and represents the newest generation of artists who have become experts in this ancient tradition. He was featured in Yara's “Winter Sun” and “Midwinter Night”. The evening will also include a brilliant troista (trio of traditional instruments) from the Carpathian Mountains by Mykola Ilyuk on fiddle, Vasyl Tymchuk on tsymbaly and Ostap Kostyuk on flute.
Midwinter Night: Sacred and Profane Rituals, is directed by Virlana Tkacz. A highlight is the original 18th century music, as arranged by Julian Kytasty, a Canadian citizen who is a world renowned bandurist and has worked with Yara for over a decade. The set and lights are designed by Watoku Ueno, a recipient of the NEA/TCG Design Fellowship. Projections are by Mikhail Shraga and Volodymyr Klyuzko, who were nominated for a New York Innovative Theatre Award for their work with Yara. Featured Yara artists in the production include: vocalists Marika, Alina and Teryn Kuzma and actress Romana Soutus. Mark Marczyk, Alexandra Baczynskyj, Tamar Ilana and others from Lemon Bucket also perform with Yara in the Nativity section.
The Lemon Bucket Orkestra is a self-described "Balkan-Klezmer-Gypsy-Punk-Super-Party-Band" formed in 2010 in Toronto. The 14 piece band, led by Mark Marczyk, plays a wide array of Eastern European folk tunes and has recently made the transition from local offbeat busking attraction to an international folk sensation.They will perform traditional Goat Songs, featuring Stephanie Woloshyn.
Yara Arts Group is a resident company of the world renowned La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York, where it has created 28 original theater pieces based on material rooted in the cultures of East Europe, Central Asia, Pacific Rim and East Africa. Yara began collaborating with traditional artists from the Carpathians in 2003 and has developed performances with them in Kiev and New York. The results of this collaboration include the theatre pieces “Koliada: Twelve Dishes”, “Still the River Flows”, “Winter Sun”, and “Midwinter Night” at La MaMa. Yara has also worked with such contemporary music groups as Gogol Bordello with whom they created “Song Tree” in 2000 and “Circle” in 1999. A Village Voice critic wrote: "A stunningly beautiful work, “Circle” rushes at your senses, makes your heart pound, and shakes your feelings loose."
Performances of Midwinter Night: Sacred and Profane Rituals: December 27-29 at the Harbourfront Center with a special premiere on Friday at 8 PM. There are also performances on Saturday at 3 PM and 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM at Enwave Theatre at the Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queen Quay West. Tickets for the gala opening on December 27 are $150, as a special campaign “Show Your Heart: Your gala ticket supports 10 student discounts.” Tickets for Saturday & Sunday are $35, students $25, children $15. (416) 973-4000.
The Koliada Project will alsopresent a series of events including Koliada concerts on December 14 at UNF 145 Evans Ave, Toronto, December 15 at St. Elias Church in Brampton and on December 22 at St. Mary’s Church in Mississauga. The Koliadnyky will also appear at the Artword Artbar in Hamilton on December 20th. On Tuesday, December 17, an exhibit of photographs and art by Volodymyr Klyuzko and Alexander Khantaev that were inspired by the Hutsul Koliada will open at 6 PM at the Bezpala Brown Gallery, 17 Church Street (@Front) (416) 907-6875 www.bezpalabrown.com. The opening will feature a special concert by the Koliadnyky and a holiday cocktail.
The Koliada Project is sponsored by the Shevchenko Foundation and the Ukrainian Credit Union. Yara Arts Group’s participation is made possible by the Coca-Cola Company and the friends of Yara Arts Group.
all the related 2013 Koliada events
other Koliada: Winter Song events 2012
Yara Arts Group
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