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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The demise of pop culture?

I find it hard to sympathize with anyone anguishing over this:

The Colbert Report last week had a great riff on the fragmentation of media and culture. Starting with a scrapbook of 1970s advertisements that once lodged in our collective consciousness ('plop, plop, fizz, fizz..'), Colbert laments the end of the water-cooler era.

No great loss. Anyone with a lick of sense and good taste prefers Ukrainian music and culture to pop culture anyway. ;-)

But I did find the video quite amusing ... and the lead singer of Ok Go very cute.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Finally - Mazeppa writ right!

Finally, a writer gets it right!

Much the same audience response greeted Peter Stein's spectacular production of Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa presented by Opera National de Lyon. This was opera as it used to be and should be, some would argue. Presented exactly as the composer intended, it was historical opera with political overtones. Set among Ukrainian nationalists seeking separation from the oppression of Russia's Peter the Great, it tells the unlikely and tragic love story of the historical figure, Mazeppa, his betrayal of those around him, and his participation in the political violence of the time.

So nice not to be reading about manufactured Ukrainian "separatists" rebelling against "Cossack landowners"!

From the article: Making beautiful music together in Glasgow's Sunday Herald

There's another in the Times Online worth reading.

Ukraine's holocaust still largely ignored

Came across an article, by Eric Margolis called Stalin and the Ukrainian Massacre.

It has absolutely nothing to do with Ukrainian music or broadcasting, but it is worth noting.

A few weeks ago, on the way to Adult Ukrainian language immersion camp in Saskatchewan, my sister and I were discussing how our non-Ukrainian husbands can't quite understand why we cling so tenaciously to our Ukrainian roots, and why we have such a hard time articulating the answer. This article serves as a good reminder.

Five years ago, I wrote a column about the unknown Holocaust in Ukraine. I was shocked to receive a flood of mail from young Americans and Canadians of Ukrainian descent telling me that until they read my article, they knew nothing of the 1932–33 genocide in which Stalin's regime murdered 7 million Ukrainians and sent 2 million to concentration camps.

How, I wondered, could such historical amnesia afflict so many young North-American Ukrainians? For Jews and Armenians, the genocides their people suffered are vivid, living memories that influence their daily lives. Yet today, on the 70th anniversary of the destruction of a quarter of Ukraine's population, this titanic crime has almost vanished into history's black hole. ...

During the bitter winter of 1932–33, 25,000 Ukrainians per day were being shot or dying of starvation and cold. Cannibalism became common. Ukraine, writes historian Robert Conquest, looked like a giant version of the future Bergan-Belsen death camp.

The mass murder of 7 million Ukrainians, 3 million of them children, and deportation to the gulag of 2 million (where most died) was hidden by Soviet propaganda. Pro-communist westerners, like the New York Times' Walter Duranty, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and French Prime Minister Edouard Herriot, toured Ukraine, denied reports of genocide, and applauded what they called Soviet "agrarian reform." Those who spoke out against the genocide were branded "fascist agents."

The US, British, and Canadian governments, however, were well aware of the genocide, but closed their eyes, even blocking aid groups from going to Ukraine. The only European leaders to raise a cry over Soviet industrialized murder were, ironically, Hitler and Mussolini. ...

After the war, the Left tried to cover up Soviet genocide. Jean-Paul Sartre denied the gulag even existed. For the Allies, Nazism was the only evil; they could not admit being allied to mass murders. ...

While academia, media and Hollywood rightly keep attention on the Jewish Holocaust, they ignore Ukraine. ... We know all about crimes of Nazis Adolf Eichmann and Heinrich Himmler; about Babi Yar and Auschwitz.

But who remembers Soviet mass murderers Dzerzhinsky, Kaganovitch, Yagoda, Yezhov, and Beria? ...

The souls of Stalin's millions of victims still cry out for justice.

Full article here.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Vancouver audio archives updated for 082706

Vancouver's Ukrainian radio audio archives for August 27 are now available!

On Chetverta Khvylia (4th Wave) join host Pavlo Manugevych for the latest news and views from Ukraine, in Ukrainian, as well as some great tunes!

On Nash Holos, Sylvia brings you another yummy recipe on Ukrainian Food Flair - this week it's a delightful old-world dish that doubles as a tasty accompaniment for the countless types of sweet, savoury, chilled and hot Ukrainian soups, and as a delicious stand-alone dessert. On Travel Tips for Ukraine and Eastern Europe, Fr. Bruce will help you relax in the Carpathian mountains! And of course, there's plenty of Great Ukrainian music! This week's CD of the Week is Sofia Bilozor's Enchanted Melodies.

BTW, according to my calculations, this past Sunday Nash Holos broke the record it previously set from 1990-96 for the longest-running Ukrainian radio program in the history of BC ... Nash Holos is now the longest continuously running Ukrainian radio program in the history of BC!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Radio Continent returning to Kyiv airways

According to a trusted source in Ukraine, Serhiy Sholokh of Radio Kontynent is feeling a bit like Santa Claus these days:

Yes, it is my present for all of you, MY DEAR FRIENDS for the Independence Day!!! [Just] turn your FM radio to 94.2. It is new frequency, new license, new life of [Radio] Continent. But..... some day 100.9 will be back like only JAZZ FM!!!"

This Ukrainian Weekly article (an interview with Serhiy) describes what happened to Radio Kontynent.

On March 3 Radio Kontynent, 100.9 FM, which re-broadcast programming of BBC, VOA, Deutche Welle, Radio Polonia, and ... Radio Liberty ... was shut down when ... Ukraine's State Agency for Radio Frequencies issued an order to close down the station.

Other articles on the shut-down here and here. A press statement by the US government here. A letter to then-president Kuchma by the International Press Institute here.

Chilling to see just how authoritarian pre-Orange Ukraine was becoming. All well worth reading to get a good sense of the times, as well as to realize and appreciate what we in the west, especially in North America, take so much for granted.

I know there's a lot of disappointment and frustration with the political shenanigans in post-Orange Ukraine.

However, it's important to keep in mind that the Orange Revolution did usher in an era of media freedom ... and it will be very hard to put that genie back in the bottle!

Is music becoming the new favoured format?

This is quite the switch! It's not about Ukrainian music, but there may be a parallel here.

WLIB New York becomes goes all-Gospel on September 1 as Air America programming moves to WWRL-AM New York. ... But not everyone agrees all-music at the expense of community Talk and information – even if that music is Gospel – is the way to go for WLIB, a station that primarily serves New York’s African-American community.

New York City Councilman Charles Barron said, “I am a revolutionary Christian, and I believe in Christ-but 24/7 Gospel? That’s a bit too much. Even Jesus Christ would not listen to 24 hours of Gospel. If we want to be Christ-like, then the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about liberation, it’s the Gospel of the streets.”

This seems to be the "conventional wisdom" but we do live in unconventional times. I wonder if talk radio has reached the market saturation point, and someone has recognized it early on in the game?

Well, whatever the reason, hats off to that station's management for swimming against the current!

It will be interesting to see if this station succeeds with its new format. I kind of hope it does, being a big fan of music and all.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mazeppa still misrepresented

I've written about this before here, but had to do it again. Seeing this nonsense repeated in the mainstream press over and over just drives me batty.

After the chainsaw Mazeppa and the railway-decapitation Mazeppa, Peter Stein's Lyon production of Tchaikovsky's spectacular opera is bound to seem unsensational. ... [However] the bulk of the work is presented as straightforward Russian epic, as the composer intended. But then, as Stein has recognised, no more than this is needed ... even if the niceties of Ukrainian separatists feuding with Cossack landowners could be said to lack universal interest.

Ok, so will media types ever come to realize that the Cossacks *were* the separatists?? And that they wanted to get *their* land back from the Russians ... and before them, from the Poles??

I dunno, Cossacks fighting for freedom and their land doesn't seem such a hard thing to comprehend. Maybe mainstream writers could do a bit of research if they're not really familiar with the region? Like maybe, read a few books and talk to a few reputable historians ... although admittedly, that requires effort. Maybe that's the problem. (Or maybe not.)

At any rate, it's good to see that the opera and the story (however mangled) are getting some publicity. With any luck, audiences will be more intelligent than the reporters.

Ukraine MP Ruslana solidly behind Orange

What a bundle of energy!

Ruslana Lyzhychko, who rose to fame after winning the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest, has confirmed her trust in embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

Lyzhychko, who supported Yushchenko's fight for the presidency in 2004, during the Orange Revolution, was elected to the country's parliament during the March 26 general elections on the ticket of the pro-presidential Our Ukraine party.

In an Aug. 22 interview ... Ruslana said that despite her busy career as a performer she is committed to her duties as a member of parliament.

Read entire Kyiv Post article here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

RCI interview now archived

Another shameless plug for Kobzar's Children ...

That Radio Canada International interview that aired August 6 on can be found here.

It felt a bit weird being on the other side of the mic, but I survived!

Luba also interviewed Danny Evanishen (who spoke in English). She also talked a bit about Marsha and gave a nice overview of the book.

If you get the chance, give it a listen! It starts at about the 13:00 mark, right after a musical selection.

Or tune in to Ottawa's Ukrainian radio program this weekend ... host Irena Bell will be rebroadcasting the segment Friday Aug 25 at 10 p.m. EST and Saturday Aug 26 at 8 a.m. EST. If you're not in the Ottawa listening area, you can catch it live on the internet.

(Cross posted at the Kobzar's Children blog.)

Message from Sonia

Here's a message from Nashville singer Sonia:

Hello Fellow Ukrainian Friends!

This weekend, August 25-27, I will be performing at the Ukrainian Sunflower Festival in Warren, Michigan. If you live nearby, or have friends or relatives that do, please invite them to come to the festival, and to say hello to me.

Also, if you haven't seen it yet, there was an article written about yours truly in the Ukrainian publication, Forum. This article talks about both my Ukrainian CD, From the Heart, and my latest CD, True, a collection of songs I've written (in English).

To buy either of my CDs, check out the latest news and tour dates, or see pictures from my trip to Ukraine last September, visit my website.

Thoughts on radio's future - is small really the new big?

Just came across this interesting blog post on what appears to be a paradigm shift happening (or about to happen) in the radio industry.

... big used to matter. Big companies used to defeat small companies, big armies used to defeat small armies. The whole idea of being successful was to go to a big college, get a big job, run a big organization and do big things.

... what happened just in the last five or ten years is that big stopped mattering as much. Suddenly, you didn't need a big ad budget, you didn't benefit by being the biggest newspaper in a three- newspaper town, you didn't have economies of scale; in fact, the economies of tiny ... suddenly helped little guys succeed. ...

If you're in radio today, you have a spectacular asset: The ability to communicate to people directly who want to hear from you. But it's a wasting asset. And big media companies [are] trying very hard to ... ignore that.

The smart media companies, the ones who are thinking small, say “we have this really powerful asset, we need to use it to migrate the attention to smaller and smaller buckets of identifiable people who want to hear from us.” ... the mistake that media companies make is they listen to the advertisers. The advertisers didn't ask for Google. You build it first, and the advertisers show up second.

Sounds like good news for niche market broadcasters. There's an mp3 of an interview, about 16 minutes long, with a marketing guru at the site here.

Shostakovich's 'Babi Yar' Symphony to Get World Premiere

If you're planning to be in New York this September, you might want to make note of this:

Dmitri Shostakovich made a two-piano version, never published, of his "Babi Yar" Symphony, No. 13, to verse by the Soviet dissident poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Thanks to special permission from the composer's widow, a portion of that arrangement will receive its world premiere next month in New York City.

"Babi Yar Remembered: Yevtushenko and Shostakovich in Word and Song," a special observance of the 65th anniversary of the notorious 1941 massacre of Ukrainian Jews near Kiev, is planned for 7 pm on September 27, 2006 in Safra Hall at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan.

Yevtushenko himself will be on hand to recite his poem 'Babi Yar,' followed by the first movement (the one which sets that text) of the Symphony No. 13 in Shostakovich's two-piano version. ... Also on the program will be Shostakovich's Concertina for Two Pianos and several songs to texts by Yevtushenko; the poet will also recite several of his other works.

Complete information and tickets are available at the Museum of Jewish Heritage website.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Vancouver audio archives updated for 082006

Audio archives for the August 20 broadcast of Nash Holos and Chetverta Khvylia (4th Wave) are now available!

We're now up to date with the archives and back to our regular routine. I've just returned after 9 days in Ukie Heaven, aka the Adult Ukrainian Language Immersion Camp at Crystal Lake, SK ... and other crazy adventures with family members in Winnipeg and Calgary.

Join Pavlo for the latest news and views from Ukraine, in Ukrainian, as well as some great tunes on Chetverta Khvylia.

On Ukrainian Food Flair Sylvia shares some information about potatoes and another delightful, uniquely Ukrainian way of preparing them. On Travel Tips, Father Bruce has some tips on negotiating your way around the myriad markets in Ukraine.

And of course, there's plenty of Great Ukrainian music! And more to come...

Friday, August 04, 2006

RCI to air feature on new book, Kobzar's Children

Luba Demko of Radio Canada International just emailed to tell me that this Sunday at noon (Montreal time, presumably), RCI will be airing a feature in Ukraine on the new anthology, Kobzar's Children: A Century of Untold Ukrainian Stories. It will include interviews with various contributers, including me.

Archived audio files can be found here.

Cross-posted at Kobzar's Children

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ukie world golf

Just conducted a delightful interview with Bohdan Kushnir of Toronto, who is the president of the Ukrainian Golf Association of Canada.

Canada is hosting the 2008 Ukrainian World Golf Challenge and Bohdan was in my fair city of Vancouver scoping out golf courses and accommodation to decide whether it will be held here or in Montreal. He kindly contacted me to let me know what he's up to, and after our chat today, I'll definitely be following developments quite closely!

The decision should be made by September 2006, at which time registration for the tournament will be open.

I'll be airing today's interview with Bohdan later this month, along with updates on the decision and perhaps a brief follow-up interview in September on Nash Holos.

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