DETROIT – The past year and a half has brought great challenges to all of humanity in practically all aspects of life, and the North American bandura scene was no exception. Sadly, last summer all four bandura camps had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. While the virtual Bandura Hangouts course offered some summer bandura activity, it was no replacement for a live, in-person bandura camp. This summer will still include some restrictions and challenges due to the pandemic – but thankfully Kobzarska Sich will take place! And, despite still many uncertainties, there is much that can be accomplished.
Everyone who attends will be able to become a better musician, even if adaptations may have to be in place that are not typical at a Kobzarska Sich bandura camp.
One anticipated big difference is that it will likely not be possible to put on a “typical” Kobzarska Sich final concert (although a “final show” could still be recorded and later streamed). There will be a lower number of full-group ensemble pieces, and correspondingly less time spent in full-group rehearsals. This, however, leaves space for some other horizons, as follows:
• A greater emphasis on individual and small group performance skills and experience. This would help instill a series of internal shows where students will perform for each other. Thus, students are likely to work on not only a few full ensemble and group pieces, but individual and small ensemble numbers.
• More stress on advancing not only technique, but interpretative skills and musicianship on the individual level. Focus will stress not only having students become better players/singers, but better performers.
• Familiarization, “testing out” and even experimenting with more music that isn’t necessarily going to be performed at internal shows or the final concert, including (hopefully!) combinations with other instruments: if prospective students play other instruments, they are encouraged to please bring them with you!
• For advanced bandura players, for those that are interested, there will be some “teaching how to teach bandura” curriculum and student teaching opportunities.
• Electives – these will perhaps not be as extensive as during the 2019 Kobzarska Sich 40th anniversary camp, but there will be some. Once organizers have a better idea of who will attend, a plan will be made to tailor electives to students’ needs and interests.
• More opportunities to listen to and learn about not only various kinds of Ukrainian (especially bandura) music, but also the context from which that music grew.
Apropos of the last item, 2021 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ukraine’s greatest female writer, Lesia Ukrainka. The camp theme is planned to focus on one of her greatest works, the play Forest Song. While the repertoire will go far beyond just works composed to Lesia Ukrainka’s lyrics, there will be a few of those. Time will also be spent learning about her and her contributions to Ukrainian literature and to kobzar art.
Registration for Kobzarska Sich is open through June 15, and any applications received after the deadline will incur late fees. Scholarship applications must be received by June 1. Recipients of needs-based scholarships will be notified promptly of the decision to support their application; recipients of merit-based scholarships will be notified June 15.
Organizers understand that sometimes circumstances are such that people are not able to fully determine their schedules by this deadline. However, it cannot be guaranteed that there will be space available after June 15. If there is the possibility of accepting participants after the deadline, a late registration fee of $100 will be assessed.
Camp programs for 2021 include a combined bandura workshop and choral workshop on two simultaneous learning tracks (Bandura and Folk Song and Folklore), July 25 through August 7 – a Bandura course for players age 12 and over, and a Folk Song and Folklore Course for ages 16 and over. In addition to the aforementioned offerings, an elective program will allow participants to customize the experience, with the courses determined by responses provided from a questionnaire.
For additional information and to register for Kobzarska Sich, which is sponsored by the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus, visit the camp website, www.banduracamp.org/registration.
Mykola Deychakiwsky is music director for Kobzarska Sich and has been involved with bandura camps throughout North America and Europe for more than four decades, contributing as a conductor, bandura instructor, music director, and composer/arranger. He holds music degrees from Baldwin Wallace College and Kent State University, was on the teaching staff at the first Kobzarska Sich bandura camp in 1979 and is a member of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America.