July 17, 2020

Yara’s traditional music virtual event to feature bandurist Zinoviy Shtokalko


NEW YORK – Yara Arts Group and the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center in Jenkintown, Pa., continue their series of virtual poetry and folk arts events with Yara’s “Traditional Music: Bandurist Zinoviy Shtokalko.”

The event will livestream on July 23 and can be heard afterwards in recording on www.yaraartsgroup.net. Shtokalko, an immigrant from Berezhany, was a virtuoso bandura player who brought the Ukrainian epic song tradition to New York in the 1950s and developed it in the 1960s. Yara’s Virlana Tkacz tells his story, while Julian Kytasty, a master bandura player, shares recordings and plays work influenced by Shtokalko, who died in 1968.

This is the third event in Yara’s series of virtual events, which are all bilingual. The first event focused on folk fiddler Pawlo Humeniuk, who was born in 1883 in the town of Pidvolochysk and emigrated in 1908. Humeniuk worked in New York as a violin maker and played fiddle at weddings and similar occasions for the Ukrainian diaspora. In 1925 he signed with OKey Records and started recording folk-dance tunes. His “Ukrainske Wesilia” (Ukrainian Wedding) is said to have sold over 100,000 copies. Yara’s virtual event “Folk Fiddler: Pawlo Humeniuk” included samples of Humeniuk’s original recordings and a discussion of his work with folklorist Iryna Voloshyna. It featured an appearance by the US Orchestra from Kyiv, which is inspired by the Humeniuk recordings.

Yara’s second virtual event spotlighted poet Oleh Lysheha, who was born in Tysmenytsia near the Carpathian Mountains in 1949. He was expelled from Lviv University during a purge in the 1970s for his interest in American poetry and sent to do military duty in the Buryat Republic of Siberia. When he returned to Ukraine, Mr. Lysheha was isolated from official Soviet literary activities. His first collection of poetry, “The Great Bridge” (1989), was like nothing else printed then. Yara started translating his work in 1990. In 1995 Ms. Tkacz first staged his poem “Swan” in Ukrainian in a workshop at Harvard and then included the English translation in Yara’s theater pieces. Yara’s virtual event “Poetry as Theater: Oleh Lysheha’s ‘Swan’ ” included a recording of the poet reading the poem in Ukrainian, video clips from Yara’s theater shows “Virtual Souls” (1997) and “Flight of the White Bird” (1999), which used sections of the poem, and a discussion with the artists who participated in Yara’s “Swan” (2003).

Yara’s virtual events are recorded. Easy links may be found at www.yaraartsgroup.net.

“Yara’s Virtual Poetry and Folk Arts Events” are made possible by the Ukrainian Community Foundation of Philadelphia and Selfreliance Ukrainian Federal Credit Union, as well as public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts. Yara has presented events at the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center since 2014.