On Monday 31st October we will be welcoming the Boyan Ensemble of Kiev back to Abergavenny for their annual concert of sacred chants and songs of Ukraine. Described as “intense harmony, astonishing low notes… utterly glorious singing” this concert is certainly one of the highlights of the Church’s musical calendar.
On their first visit to Britain in 1992, the Boyan Ensemble was hailed “A Musical Sensation”. Their programme of sacred chants from the Eastern Orthodox Church, sung a cappella, “breathed mystery, incense and the flicker of candles. Audiences were caught up in the poignant drama of a religion that had fought its way through tyranny and oppression”. However, their repertoire is not confined to the Liturgical; in the second half we are treated to Ukraine’s rich folk heritage with songs ranging from the exuberant to the soulful. “There is swagger, bravado, heroism, nostalgia and a sense of the limitless Ukrainian horizons one recalls from Eisenstein films”. The impact of their thrilling performances has ensured that the UK tours have become an annual event.
The twenty five musicians on tour include Artistic Director Yuriy Kuratch and his twin brother, conductor Volodymyr Kuratch, and many superb soloists including the only female voice, soprano Valentina Ivanenko. Boyan’s repertoire embraces Ukrainian, Russian, Bulgarian, Georgian, other Slavonic and Western-European sacred and classical music, including vocal-symphonic works, medieval chants and the renowned chants of the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves. The Ensemble regularly tours in Western Europe and it has performed in France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Israel, Luxemburg and Italy, as well as in countries of the former Soviet Union. Boyan has been broadcast in a live concert on BBC Radio 3 and also featured on Classic FM – this is the Ensemble’s 19th consecutive UK tour.
With roots tracing back to the legendary Scythian horsemen and traders of the Crimea, (7th – 3rd century BC), Ukraine has a treasured Orthodox Christian heritage. Its sacred music dates back to the Kyiv chant of the 11th century and has developed through the ages, notably through the works of composers such as Berezovsky, Vedel, Bortniansky, Verbytsky, Leontovych and Stetsenko. Centuries of invasion, religious persecution, civil war, and oppression have not extinguished the enduring Christian faith and rich cultural heritage of this land which is so powerfully reflected in the choral music performed by the Boyan Ensemble. (For information on Ukraine visit www.ucrainica.info).
The concert of Ukraine’s top professional male choir will be held in St Mary’s Priory on Monday 31st October at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from Abergavenny Music or by telephoning (01873) 854595.