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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Support the Taras Shevchenko Foundation's good work

If you're pledging to the United Way (or All-Charities in Manitoba) through your payroll deduction, do consider the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko.
Here is the link to the CRA website:
Just type in their name - Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko - and it will take you to the registration number.

If you have any questions or difficulties with the online procedure, call Halyna Kinasevych, Executive Assistant of the Shevchenko Foundation at (204) 944-9128, send here an email.
Your generous donation will provide a lasting gift to Canada's Ukrainian community.
If you're not familiar with the significant contribution the Foundation makes to Canada as well as its Ukrainian community, you can get a good overview at their website

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ukrainian Prime Minister censors political comedy on TV

According to this recent article, the prime minister of Ukraine has issued an edict forbidding Ukrainian television stations to lampoon Ukrainian politicians.

Yes ... decent, civilized people will find such a scenario absurd and unbelievable but, unfortunately, it's quite true. Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov announced the news on Sept. 21.

Pity the Ukrainian people who dared hope that this crop of politicians might have some interest in advancing their country.

Can anyone living in a modern democracy imagine television stations being forbidden to produce comedies about their country's politicians? Western politicians have thick enough skins that they have no problem allowing citizens to laugh at them. They also have enough confidence and maturity to be able to laugh at themselves and sometimes even join in the lampooning.

Now granted, Ukrainian citizens have a grim sense of humour (a byproduct of the soviet era) so most of them would probably consider TV shows lampooning their politicians overkill anyway. They are already  laughing at their politicians (albeit bitterly). As is the rest of the world.

Full article is here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

These Ukrainians definitely can dance!

Virsky, Ukraine's National Dance Company, will kick off their 2010 Canadian concert tour October 7 in Vancouver!

The Vancouver concert happens at the Vancouver Centre for Performing Arts, 777 Homer Street, Vancouver. Showtime is 7:30 pm.

Tickets on sale now at Ticketmaster or call 604-280-4444. (Or, tune in to Nash Holos for ticket giveaways.)

You don't want to miss this performance! Here's a sneak preview:

Attendance at 2010 Toronto Ukrainian Festival Tops Half a Million

This year’s Toronto Ukrainian Festival attracted a record breaking audience of 516,441!

In its 14th year, the 2010 festival saw visitors from Canada, the USA and abroad during the weekend of Sept. 17-19.

“There is no doubt that the headline band from Ukraine Mad Heads XL as well as a very strong performer line up helped to bring the people to the Bloor West Village and our Festival," said Jurij Klufas, Chairman of the festival. “Our unique programming concept presents non-stop programming of Ukrainian music, song and dance from the very beginning to the very end of our Festival,” he said.

The Toronto Ukrainian Festival, being the largest Ukrainian festival in North America, never fails to attract politicians of all stripes. Mark Warawa, Conservative MP from Langley B.C. and Chair, Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group brought greetings on behalf of Prime Minister Harper and the Government of Canada. Gerard Kennedy, Liberal MP for Parkdale-Highpark and Jack Layton, Leader of the NDP praised the Ukrainian Canadian community's contribution to the building of Canada.

“This was the largest parade to date with TV food celebrity Ken Kostick leading the way,” said Parade Manager Tamara Mischena. The winning non commercial entry was Desna Ukrainian Dance Company of Toronto who incidentally are celebrating their 35th anniversary. The winning commercial entry was Buduchnist Credit Union.

Volunteer Manager Anna Heychuk was very happy with her crew of dedicated volunteers who began their shifts as early as 8 am daily and continued to 1 am on Friday and Saturday nights and until midnight on Sunday night.

In addition to the local Bloor West Village restaurants, businesses and services, Vendor/Kiosk Manager Irene Nazarewycz made sure to provide lots of tasty food and interesting shopping options. The Kozak Beverage Garden was operated by the Parents Committee of the Ukrainian Youth Association of Mississauga.

This year’s Main Stage emcee’s were Ryan Boyko, Justina Lewkowicz and Marta Czurylowicz. The youth program emcee’s were Odesa Kelebay and William Pidzamecky.

For more information visit the festival’s website.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Nash Holos audio archives updated to Sept 26, 2010

On last night's show we got a fab audio "sneak preview" of the upcoming concert and tour of the Virsky National Dancers of Ukraine.

Also, two lucky listeners won free tickets to Virsky's October 7 concert in Vancouver. The Vancouver concert kicks off their 2010 Canada tour. I just popped the tickets in the mail today, and will be giving away one last pair of tickets to another lucky listener on Nash Holos next Sunday.

Here are yesterday's show highlights:
  • Interview with Bohdan Tkachyshyn, of Boen Arts. You can listen to it here. (Also my colleague Stan Nastenko interviewed him (in Ukrainian) on his show yesterday morning. Catch his podcast here.)
  • On his Kultural Capsule, Vasyl Pawlowsky features Ukrainian Canadian Victoria Cross recipient Filip Konowal. (Listen to it here.) 
  • Marina Lewycka's newest book, We are all Made of Glue, is the focus of Irena Bell's Чи знали ви? (Did Your Know?) feature.
  • Proverb of the week, upcoming events in Vancouver's Ukrainian community, and plenty of great Ukrainian music!

Thugs attack music lovers in Ukraine

A Kyiv Post article reports that some two dozen of Ukraine's neantherthals came out of their caves last night, taking baseball bats to a rock festival last night in Irpen, a town outside Kyiv.

These thugs injured several security guards severely enough that they required hospitalization. The neanderthal elements in charge of the state police have, of course, made no arrests. Which kind of makes one wonder just who instigated this attack.

It is heartbreaking to see Ukraine being dragged back into the dark ages. It is equally disgusting that no western government can seem to fathom the global implications, much less possesses sufficient balls to take a stand.

This includes our own Prime Minister who either doesn't know or (more likely) doesn't care enough about human rights and press freedom violations to do more than pose for a photo with Ukraine's current president. You'd think he could at least mention these violations in one of his statements of Canada's concerns.

When Ukrainian music lovers can't safely enjoy an outdoor music concert, and politicians accuse Ukrainian rock bands (of all people!) of "promoting fascism and xenophobia" it's a huge step back for democracy.

Here in the west, celebrities are (so far) free to criticize politicians and the government and call them to account. But Ukraine's current government prefers to live in a time warp. It appears that few politicians in the former soviet union are willing to allow this kind of freedom. Those who are willing to don't last long in office.

It's clear this current regime appears bound and determined to bring back the "glory days" of the old soviet union... when intimidation tactics and thuggery were the modus operandi of the state.

OTOH maybe it's not a step backwards. Seems like not much has really changed since the collapse of the iron curtain ... except to get worse. Ditto the indifference of western governments.

Read the article here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Vintage Bridal Gown Fashion Show and High Tea at St. Mary's

The Vancouver branch of the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League invites you to their Vintage Bridal Gown Fashion Show and High Tea on Sunday September 26, 2010. It takes place at 2:30 pm at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Centre, 3150 Ash Street in Vancouver.

This unique event will feature bridal gowns going back to the early 20th century and continuing up to today. Young women in the local Ukrainian community will model several vintage gowns.

Other gowns will be on display along with traditional Ukrainian wedding artifacts and photos. As well, there will be a “Guess Who the Bride Is?” contest.

To wrap up the show, Svitanok Chorus will sing pre wedding songs and feature a reenactment by a soloist “bride to be” from their musical Vinkopletennia, a traditional Ukrainian bridal shower.

The High Tea following the fashion show will feature delicious home-made delicacies by the ladies of the parish.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $4 for children under 12. Please book in advance and help the ladies prepare enough food.

Tickets are available from Sophia at 604 568-2034, Nadia at 604 432-7144  or Ann (Kvitka) at 604 925-2581.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dauphin's Riding & Dancing Cossacks

This amazing spectacle never fails to send shivers down your back as those horses come galloping out of the woods to the sound of cannons firing.

Not a usual sight or sound in the rolling hills and farmlands of Manitoba ... except  during Canada's National Ukrainian Festival in Dauphin.

Here's the story:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ukrainian community in northern Florida

The people in this charming documentary about the Ukrainian community in North Port, Florida could be about my own family.

Yet they are total strangers living in a different country three time zones away on the other side, and end, of the continent!

The video came to me from a friend in Victoria, who received it from a friend of hers (also a stranger to me) in Edmonton.

The way the internet connects people, these folks may not be strangers for long!

Hope you enjoy this story as much as I did!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ukrainian folk group Zubrivka at the Toronto Ukrainian Festival

Here's the schedule for their festival performances:

Saturday, September 18 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm EDT
Sunday, September 19 from 3:30 – 4:00 pm EDT

Bloor West Village Ukrainian Festival
2440 Bloor St. W
Toronto ON

This TV special about them is in Ukrainian but even if you don't understand the language, you'll understand the universal language of the music.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Astounding talent - virtuoso violinist Vasyl Popadiuk

If you are anywhere near Toronto this coming weekend, do not miss the chance to see this amazing musician perform live.

I have a couple of his CDs... which get a fair bit of airplay on Nash Holos. They are incredible enough as it is, but no comparison to seeing him on stage. So if you haen't yet, you can only imagine!

The first time I saw him was back in 1993, in Vancouver's Centennial Theatre. At the time he was with the Hopak Ukrainian Folk Dance Company of Ukraine. The troupe disbanded shortly thereafter, presumably due to a good number of members falling in love with Canada and deciding to stay.

However, the show was, in a word, spectacular. One of the acts was this young man sawing away on a violin ... and the way the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, I just knew that wouldn't be last I'd see or hear of him.

He settled in Toronto, where he developed a cabaret act calling himself Papa Duke. I'm told he has since recently relocated to Ottawa.
An earlier post I did on him just ahead of his concert in Hamilton last year featured a few videos of him performing.

Here's another one:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mad Heads - Toronto Ukrainian Festival headliner act

My first exposure to this fabulous video and song was in Crystal Lake, Saskatchewan, at the Adult Ukrainian Language Immersion Camp my sister and I attended a few years back.

Presumably Mad Heads will be performing it at the Toronto Ukrainian Festival this coming weekend.

If you can't make it to the festival to see Mad Heads perform live, or you just love hearing the song and watching the video, here you go.


See Dunai at the Toronto Ukrainian Festival

Here's a sneak peek of what Dunai may have in store for you this coming weekend at the Toronto Ukrainian Festival.

They're playing a traditional Ukrainian folksong, Yikhaly Kozaky (Їхали Козаки), actually quite a gruesome and tragic tale played in a very upbeat polka style ... which is the norm for this song btw.

Well, who said Ukrainians don't have a sense of humour? OK it can be somewhat twisted at times but, what they hey. If you can't laugh what's the point of being alive?

For the Ukrainian-impaired, they give the plotline in English before they start playing.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nash Holos podcast and audio archives updated for this week

For those who didn't catch the program when it aired on Sunday, visit the Nash Holos website for the podcast!

Here's what's on:
This week's music mix features several acts who will be performing at the Toronto Ukrainian Festival this coming weekend, including psychobilly band Mad Heads XL from Ukraine, folk group Zubrivka from Toronto, virtuoso violisnist Vasyl Popadiuk of Ottawa, and folk rock band Dunai from Ajax, Ontario

I'll be posting a few videos of these acts that I particularly like. Here's one by Mad Heads.


Monday, September 06, 2010

Lord of War - fact-based fiction comes to life

A few weeks back my DH and I watched Lord of War.

If I'd had my way, we wouldn't have. But I'm glad we did.

It starts out a bit slow, and being chronically short on patience, I was ready to ditch it after a few minutes. My DH insisted I give it a chance so, just to get along, I did. Good thing, too. What a powerful movie!

Based (loosely) on real life characters, it's a real indictment of the arms trade. The acting is great. (It stars Nicholas Cage, after all!) And the story is gripping. So I found it a very memorable movie.

Nonetheless, I had immediate doubts about the accuracy of the Ukrainian references.

The protagonist is based on notorious gun-runner Viktor Bout. Nothwithstanding that the movie is of course fictional, to my mind it's nonetheless highly unlikely that a Ukrainian from the Crimea who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s or 80s would self-identify as a patriotic Ukrainian ... and at that, one who was ecstatic about what happened in 1991. (In real life, the Crimea is dominated by Russians hell-bent on returning the area to Mother Russia.)

It's also doubtful that a senior officer in the Soviet army who, after the Soviet Union collapsed, would later have access to stockpiled arms, would have been a patriotic ethnic Ukrainian ... especially since, according to Wikipedia, the uncle’s character is based on a real-life person, Oleg Orlov, who died in a Kyiv prison in 2007 while under investigation for smuggling arms to Iran.

I suppose these fictitious stretches make for a good story. But I dunno. I think it would have been a better story had it been closer to reality. Would you agree?

In a real-life twist, shortly after I saw the movie, a friend who is an expert on Ukrainian politics and current affairs, sent an email saying that Viktor Bout was being extradited to the USA. As an arms supplier to terrorists including Al Qaida, he may be implicated in 9/11.

There is some scuttlebutt that a deputy in Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada (parliament) ,Yuriy Bout, may be his brother. Yurij became a deputy after switching citizenship from Russian to Ukrainian and receiving his Ukrainian passport on the day before Gen. Yurij Kravchenko's two-bullets-to-the-head "suicide."

There's not a lot of information about Yurij Bout that I could find, at least not in English. As for Viktor Bout, given his arrest there will likely be follow up stories in the mainstream media similar to this and this and this.

In the meantime, despite the less-than-credible Ukrainian characterizations, I think it's still a movie worth watching (or watching again).

If you've seen it, I'd love to get your take on it.

If you haven't yet seen it, you can get the DVD at Amazon.

Here's the movie trailer.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Sorochinsky Fair

Great article in the Kyiv Post about Ukraine's famous Sorochinsky Fair, which took place this year Aug. 17-22.

Except for a period during the regressive and repressive soviet era, this historic open-air market has been around a long time. Ukrainian writer Nicolai Gogal (properly translitered as Hohol from Ukrainian) wrote a short story about it, and Mussorgsky composed an opera about it. With over 700,000 visitors, it is as popular today as it ever was.

Villagers and gawkers from all over Ukraine flock to this annual five-day feast for theater plays and insane shopping.

Back in the 19th century, this fair was no different from others. It owes its popularity to writer Nikolai Gogol, who was born in Velyki Sorochintsy, the same village where the fair is held. In his novel, he described all the action of wheeling and dealing, which, to be honest, hasn’t changed much. The fair is still a mess: rows of piglets mix with buckets of ostrich feathers.

But for many, this eclectic mix of disorganized village produce is the main attraction. Presidents and parliament deputies make it a must stop to mingle with simple folk and buy Ukrainian souvenirs.

The fair is only a three-hour drive from Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

Details of the fair (including highlights of previous years' fairs) are available at the fair's website here.

Vasyl did a charming feature on the fair on his Kultural Capsule on the August 29 broadcast of Nash Holos.  You can listen to it here.


Friday, September 03, 2010

Ukraine's Eurovision near-wins

On last Sunday's radio program (international edition) I played Ukraine's 2007 and 2008 entries. The latter was a request from a new listener in Japan, and I thought it would be fun to play them back to back. Both years, Ukraine came second in the Eurovision contest.

There was a very lively discussion on this blog back in 2008 about these artists and the direction Ukrainian music has been taking. You can check it out here, but in the meantime, here's the wild and crazy 2007 entry.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Cheremshyna - Ukrainian Canadian trio from Montreal

On the August 22 show, Vasyl did a Kultural Capsule feature on Cheremshyna, a female vocal trio from Montreal.

These gals have been on the Ukrainian Canadian music scene for several decades, and while they've slowed down a bit on the recording side of things, they're still making the rounds of local festivals and events.

Cheremshyna became very well known in the days before the internet and social media, when networking was done face to face ... and maybe over the phone with a little help from the Ukrainian BBC, i.e., Баба Бабі Сказала (Granny told Granny).

Of course musical excellence may have also played a contributing role in their popularity!

In the 1980s and 90s they released several albums ... Volumes 1, 2 and 3 on vinyl (and cassette) and then on CD The Best of Cheremshyna and По Стежках Мрії (Along Paths of a Dream). They also released a wonderful Ukrainian Christmas album back in the 80s with a bunch of other local performers. It originally came out on vinyl and is currently available on CD at Yevshan, along with their "Best of" CD.

Unfortunately, Cheremshyna doesn't have a website, but I did manage to find this YouTube video someone put together online. It's a slideshow with one of their recordings in the background...Ой там за лісочком (Oy tam za lisochkom) which means "there beyond the woods."


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