The Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus
Choruses in Ukraine can be traced back to approximately 1902, but the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus was established in 1918 in Kyiv, and was originally known as the Kyiv Bandurist Capella. The chorus was under the direction of Vasyl Yemetz and started with a mere fifteen members. During the 1920’s, the Kyiv Bandurist Capella toured frequently, until their existence came under threat as Joseph Stalin started arresting intellectuals and artists, and forced the group of musicians and vocalists to either break apart or flee the country.
During the rule of Stalin anyone who wrote, spoke or sang anything about freedom, human dignity, or any other message that opposed the new government, was viewed as a traitor and treachery carried a death sentence. Sadly, many people were executed during this time. Those Kyiv Bandurist Capella members who valued their lives had to become members of the State Bandurist Chorus of the Ukrainian SSR. But in 1949, the chorus members, with the help from the allied forces, emigrated to the United States, and settled in Detroit, where they remain today.
The Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus has been entertaining the world ever since, giving performances to celebrity personalities such as Leonid Kraychuk (former President of Ukraine), Ronald Reagan, Jack Palance and even Richard Nixon. In recent years, the chorus has taken their program of instrumental pieces and accompanied vocal compositions on the road and returned to Ukraine in 1991 for a fourteen city tour. They received the Taras Shevchenko Ukrainian State Prize and have released six CDs, a number of cassettes and albums.
Even though the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus has not been based in Ukraine for many years, they and their performances, have remained true to the Ukrainian culture and traditions, with their unique sound still resulting from the bandura being their primary instrument. The group is focused on promoting the fascinating sounds of the bandura, together with original and Ukrainian compositions.
The Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus is a group of dedicated, voluntary members, who, through their musical and vocal talents, entertain leaders, raise audience members to their feet and bring life to stages around the world. Their performances are electrifying and the group has carried forward the vision and dreams that formed the chorus group in 1918.