Songs and Stories from Ukraine

Last Wednesday’s event at The Ukrainian Centre was real milestone for the choir and me. We had been working for six months – but most intensely for four weeks – on developing a selection of songs to perform at the event. All of the songs were drawn from the vast bank of traditional Ukrainian folk songs that the women of the choir have stored in their collective memory and which they have been singing regularly, in some cases, for the last 75 years.  As for me,  I have had less time to learn the songs, since March to be precise. Still, together we landed upon four exquisite examples of traditional Ukrainian folk music and rehearsed our performance of them ready for last Wednesday.

The reason for the intense polishing of traditional songs came in the form of 15 honoured guests from Entelechy Arts who came to share in our music making as part of a series of Bradford-based cultural events supported by the Wellcome Trust. It was deeply warming to see the range of reactions that our singing provoked among the audience. There was a definite sense that our guests were throwing themselves into the sounds and stories of our songs and the discussions that followed each piece forged some truly inspiring connections between singers and listeners.

Most moving of all was the way in which this dialogue gave rise to sharing some of the singers’ experiences of their displacement as young women, and the role that their singing has played throughout lives full of change and often adversity. The fiery passion that burned in the choir’s voices last week was an awesome tribute to the here-and-now-ness of the groups approach, which makes our project such an inspiration and pleasure.

If you missed out on the sharing, here are three examples of the music presented (in very different arrangements…)


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