Vesnivka celebrates 50 years of song
Featured Story: Vesnivka
Award-winning Ukrainian women's choir embraces joy of singing during Golden Anniversary season
Toronto's Vesnivka has performed on some of the most prestigious concert stages in the world, singing for audiences from all cultures and walks of life including royalty, heads of state and religious leaders.
But there's no place like home and the best is yet to come for Vesnivka members poised for what promises to be their most important concerts to date.
This fall, the award-winning Ukrainian women's choir launches its 50th anniversary season with a series of concerts for audiences at home. With a reputation for musical excellence and an ever-evolving repertoire of Ukrainian folk, contemporary, classical and sacred music, Vesnivka fans embrace the songs and high energy, invigorating performances earning the choir ovations.
Founder, choral and artistic director Halyna Kvitka Kondracki established Vesnivka in 1965 to share the Ukrainian songs she grew up singing. What began as a music program for girls at Toronto's St. Nicholas Ukrainian School, has become her life's work. A talented teacher and conductor who often takes the musical road less travelled and more challenging, Kondracki has directed Vesnivka for five decades transforming the choir into a leading voice of Ukrainian music world-wide.
“It's a work in progress,” says Kondracki adding she is fortunate to be able to pursue her hopes and dreams for the choir despite obstacles. One major hurdle was finding music for the choir to sing. Not an easy feat back in day when there was little Ukrainian music available for female voices. Undaunted, Kondracki rewrote arrangements for male choirs, giving her members the tools to build Vesnivka's unmatched archive of Ukrainian songs for women's voices as they honed their musical skills. Vesnivka is making its repertoire available online as an anniversary gift to the choral community and music lovers everywhere.
As the choir's reputation grew, Kondracki searched for long-forgotten folk songs and classical music throughout Ukraine and also commissioned Canadian as well as Ukrainian composers to write for Vesnivka, a tradition that continues to this day. Sophisticated, often complex harmonies, the new works stretch the choir's musical boundaries and showcase the vocal talents of members who are all amateur singers. The result is there's always something new to discover for concert goers.
While annual concerts at home are Vesnivka's raison d'etre, the choir has also travelled extensively giving internationally acclaimed performances on three continents and world-class cities including the Vatican in Rome Italy, London's Royal Albert Hall, New York's Carnegie Hall and Koerner Hall in Toronto. Concert tours in Canada, Ukraine, Spain, Portugal, France, Poland, England and The Netherlands are among the highlights. Every performance and music festival is an opportunity for learning as well as connecting and collaborating with other choral ensembles, says Kondracki. The relationships are priceless as are the numerous awards Vesnivka has earned over the past half century among them top honours in the CBC Choral Competition and first place in the folk category at the International Choral Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales – a testament to the old adage 'Practice makes perfect.'
As for the future, Kondracki says there are many musical roads left to explore and plenty of room in the archives for exciting new works to be performed and recorded as Vesnivka pursues the joy of singing.
Vesnivka's anniversary season begins with the world premier of Liturgy No. 4 (Vesnivka) by Canadian composer Roman Hurko at a free concert Oct. 18, 2015 at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church. The celebrations culminate with the 50th Anniversary Gala Concert April 17, 2016 at Glenn Gould Studio.
For more details visit Vesnivka's website at www.vesnivka.com