Fri, Dec 10, 2004 - Page 15 News List

Ukrainian Choir is made to feel at home

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

PHOTO COURTESY OF ARS FORMOSA

The Ukrainian Children's Choir of Odessa is probably glad to have been on tour recently. Perhaps they thought being in Taiwan would put them far from the politics of bitterly disputed presidential elections back home?

Wrong. Talk show legislator Sisy Chen (陳文茜) recently compared the Ukraine's ongoing electoral quagmire with Taiwan's March 2004 presidential elections and said Ukrainian opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko is just like Taiwan's opposition candidate Lien Chan (連戰).

Regardless of any political circumstances, the choir will be too busy to think too much about current events as it fulfills upcoming engagements in Taipei, Kaohsiung, Tainan, Taichung, Hsinchu and Chungli.

The choir was founded in 1981 and acquired a reputation not only in the Ukraine but throughout the former USSR. The turning point came in 1991, when it performed at the International Festival of Choral Music. It has since visited a list of foreign countries, including the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Poland, England, Hungary, Belgium, Austria, Lebanon, and France. A high point for the choir came in August of 1997, when it performed for the Pope at his summer residence.

It has also been featured over the years on several European television shows with Jacques Martin, Michael Drucker and Pascal Sevran, as well as the radio programs France Musique, France Culture, RTB and Radio Luxembourg.

Today the choir includes 80 boys and girls aged 10- to 18-years-old. During their time in the choir, the children receive secondary education in addition to a disciplined training in music, following regular courses of study in Odessa's public schools during the day and choir rehearsal at night. They're also taught various instruments. The best choristers are selected for each tour, as only 36 of them travel to foreign countries. For their trip to Taiwan and other Asian nations, that number has been further reduced to 30.

While the majority of the choir's repertoire is performed a cappella, several of their pieces require musical accompaniment. Here the choir is backed by young performers from the Music Academy of Odessa, who join in the singing. The choir is also accompanied by a soprano soloist from the Opera of Odessa for classics like Pie Jesu from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Requiem.

Among the 27 other classics they'll perform are seasonal selections: Silent Night, Irving Berlin's White Christmas and perhaps the only performance Taipei will hear before Christmas this year of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker -- the earliest scheduled performance of the holiday classic will be in January. The Ukrainian kids will perform a few segments from the ballet, including March and the Snowflake Waltz.

The choir is also famous for performing one song in the native language of their host country, though the company organizing their tour of Taiwan won't say what Chinese lyrics the kids have been rehearsing. The ROC National Anthem? Sisy Chen only hopes.

Performance schedule:

Monday, Dec. 13 @ 7:30 Tainan County Cultural Center

Tuesday, Dec. 14 @ 7:30pm Kaohsiung City CKS Cultural Center Auditorium

Wednesday, Dec. 15 @ 7:30pm Hsinchu City Performing Arts Hall

Thursday, Dec. 16 @ 7:30pm Taipei National Concert Hall

Friday, Dec. 19 @ 2:30pm

Chungli Arts Center

What: 3-in-1 with Red 23, Hindsight 20/20 and Tube

When: Tonight 8:30pm

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