Barvinok Choir

Carrying our Ukrainian Traditions

Choirs have been an integral part of life at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre since its establishment as the Ukrainian Labour Temple in Vancouver 92 years ago. Through the years such noted directors as Roman Nazarkevich, Demian Vykhristow, Mike Malanchuk, John Chitrenky, Bill Philipovich, Bill Chomyn, Karl Kobylansky, Walter Yakimchuk, John Niechoda, Libby Griffin and Vanya Soychuke have played an important part in the enhancement of Ukrainian choral music in the Vancouver AUUC. Since 2001, Beverly Dobrinsky has conducted the Barvinok Choir.

 

As a performer, composer, instructor and conductor, Beverly Dobrinsky is one of the core and long-term members of Vancouver’s music scene.  East Meets East was her first collaboration with the Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble (VCME).  East Meets East brought together the Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble with leading voices of Ukrainian cultural traditions, Beverly Dobrinsky and the Barvinok Choir.

Previously our choir was named the AUUC Jubilee Choir in 1978 to acknowledge and celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of our organization. In the 1960’s and 70’s smaller folk music groups such as the Milestones, the Whiskey Jacks and the Lyonok Trio* were born from this very active musical environment.

Orchestra and Choir 1939

AUUC choirs have performed under different names over the years and “Barvinok(click link to read more) was chosen in 1998 to bring us into the new millennium. Barvinok translates to the periwinkle flower in English and represents the fertility of spring. It is a popular flower for making “vinochky”, which are the beautiful head dresses of Ukrainian culture. It carries the meaning of our ancient folklore so strongly rooted in nature, and holds the promise of an abundant future.

The periwinkle flower: a strong symbol of Ukrainian culture and folklore
Video links above: Barvinok Choir in performance with Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble - East Meets East, 2016

The Barvinok Choir, which currently has a membership of 30 singers, perform regularly in our own hall, as well as in the community at large. The choir has had important and interesting collaborations with groups such as Vancouver Moving Theatre, the Chinese community, an Italian choir and with First Nations’ performers.

Barvinok continues to preserve and celebrate the grand tradition of Ukrainian folksong and choral music, and acts as an ambassador of Ukrainian cultural traditions beyond its own community.

 

Rehearsals are every Wednesday evening at the Hall from 7:30-9 pm, and new singers are very welcome. Facility with the Ukrainian language is not necessary as all songs are translated and transliterated.

 

Vitayemo!

Barvinok Choir in concert at Centennial Theatre, 2018, Photo: Scott Alpen
Click above to play video from the 2018 AUUC Celebration100 concert

Lyonok Trio

 

On February 12, 1987, the cultural forces of the Vancouver AUUC were invited to Vernon, British Columbia to put on a concert for the Vernon Winter Carnival.  The Jubilee Choir – forerunner to the present Barvinok Choir - was among the invited participants. John Niechoda, Director of the choir at the time, decided that to add more variety to the performance, a small choral ensemble was needed as an off shoot of the choir. That indeed did happen and the Lyonok Trio came into being. The Trio consisted of Betty Thomas, Audrey Moysiuk and Libby Griffin.

Left to right:  Betty Thomas, Libby Griffin, Audrey Moysiuk

One of the very first songs performed by the trio was a song called “Karpaty”, extolling the beauty of the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine and this song would remain a favourite with the trio and their audiences for many years. Another favourite song for the Trio was a song taken from the movie “Son” or “Dreams” about the young years of Taras Shevchenko. The song “Lelechenky” or “Storks”, is a plea to be carried back to Ukraine upon the wings of a stork. Libby Griffin brought this song back with her from Ukraine in the late 60’s. Having fallen in love with the song and with no access to a photo copier, she borrowed the music from the Conservatory of Music Library and copied it out by hand. This song was most recently performed at the AUUC’s 100th Anniversary Concert in 2018.

Besides AUUC sponsored concerts, Lyonok performed for many organizations at various interesting venues. Probably one of the most memorable performances the trio did was for a C.O.P.E. banquet and fundraiser at the Beach House Restaurant in Vancouver’s West End. The restaurant did not have a central spot from which to perform, so the trio spent the evening wandering throughout the various sections of the restaurant performing Ukrainian folk songs like troubadours or Kobzary.  Two members of the trio, Libby Griffin and Audrey Moysiuk, continue to sing with the Barvinok choir. Sadly, the third member, Betty Thomas, passed away on April 7th of this year.

Click above to play video from the 2018 AUUC Celebration100 concert

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