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CONCERT OF EPIC SONGS (29 July 2004, 7 PM, Alchemia)

1. Michajło Chai  (Ukraine)

Michajło Chai - lyrist, bandurist (nickname: Lirnik Stefan) is a researcher and reconstructionist of this tradition. He supplements his scientific interest in kobzar tradition by practicing this tradition and by spontaneous concerts on city streets and near temples. His repertoire, including elements of various Ukrainian traditions, is recreated both on the basis of available records, as well as artist's own notes, collected directly from the lyrists and kobzars. Michajło Chai (since 1999 an associate professor at the Centre of Folklore at the National Academy of Music of Ukraine) is also the author of several dozen scientific and journalistic articles on regionalism in musical folklore, ethnoorganology and kobzaring and also the monograph "Music of Boyko region".


Ukraine: Lyricism - the phenomenon of Ukrainian spirituality


Wandering minstrels from France and England, German minezingeers, Norwegian-Icelandic skalds, Slavic enchanters (hushlars), Kazakh and Kyrgyz Akin, Transcaucasian Ashugas, followers of the Indian Vedic epic, Karelo-Finnish "Kalevala" or Estonian "Kalevipoeg"- all of them belong to a noble group of early epic traditions pioneers. In this group, Ukrainian kobzars, bandurists, lyrists and the tradition they created, called "kobzaring", occupy a unique place. Kobzars and lyrists shared the fact that they were promoters of the highest spiritual values of their nation, and also had similar social outsider status. Characteristically, a beggar became a symbol of the mission of promoting the highest values in Ukraine.


The structure of "Dziadostwo" ("Poor Wanderers") in Slavic lands was extremely diversed. Among them were settled and nomadic beggars, street musicians, the blind, the psychics, old men banished by hunger and poverty in Belarus and Russia, "calvary beggars" in Poland, crippled, accidental or professional singers with or without an instrument, etc. Among them, the lyrists constituted a small, but the most dignified group in the spiritual, moral and artistic sense. The singing of bandurists and kobzars was quiet and recitative, lyrists - louder, slightly exalted and with a greater degree of emotional involvement. Lyrists were also characterized by less political commitment to greater religious radicalism. Epic prides, religious psalms, ballads and historical songs - this is the basis of their repertoire. These are songs for encouragement and warning. They contain the truth about the nation, its history, culture and people. Lyricism is a kind of mission to promote the highest values. Its origins date back to the Middle Ages, and over the centuries it developed into a rich tradition, the symbol of which - the figure of a wandering musician with a magic instrument - the people worshiped widely.

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