It goes without saying that national identity dies out quickly if it doesn’t have a shared culture or traditions. While culture includes several aspects, like literature, dance, or language, a crucial part of cultural identity is music. Understanding the importance of music is key to understanding the culture of the people. Ukrainian language is one of the top 5 most melodic languages. Does that mean we have a strong vocal tradition? Yes.
That vocal tradition is more than a thousand years old. It has evolved dramatically and was influenced by both small and large factors. Yet, nowadays, Ukrainian songs aren’t well known. It is seemingly forgotten in the city. That’s why the Ukrainian Art Song Project under the Musica Leopolis label is making tremendous efforts to preserve it.
The project was founded by Pavlo Hunka, an established British bass-baritone. Initially teaming up with musician, opera director, and composer Roman Hurko, they envisioned the first steps to preserving Ukrainian art song. Helping them financially is the Canadian Ukrainian Opera Association- a charity aimed at popularising Ukrainian music. The project is managed from Toronto, with frequent visits to Ukraine.
They aim to release a collection of over 1000 art songs from 26 different composers. Currently, they recorded over 350, mostly from big names such as Mykola Lysenko, Kyrylo Stetsenko, Yakiv Stepovy, Stefania Turkewich, and Vasyl Barvinsky.
Fancy playing along with an instrument? Download scores from their website for free!