Dressed in traditional Ukrainian Cossack attire, the all-female bandura ensemble Tcharivni Strouny will make its debut appearance in Taiwan on Wednesday. The group aims to introduce local audiences to the ancient plucked string instrument and a musical tradition that has been suppressed at various times through history.
The bandura combines elements of a lute and box zither, and its use dates back to the sixth century. From the 16th to 18th centuries the folk instrument underwent significant changes in the hands of Zaporozhian Cossacks who lived in Central Ukraine. The kobzar tradition was formed as Ukrainian itinerant Cossack bards popularized kobza music. The terms bandura and kobzar were interchangeable until the 20th century.
Sung to the accompaniment of the bandura, Tcharivni Strouny’s repertoire includes psalms, chants, folk songs and dumy, Ukrainian epics mainly concerned with historical events and religious beliefs.
It’s because of their association with aspects of Ukrainian history and religious elements that bandurists and kobzari were systematically persecuted by authorities that once occupied the region, especially during Stalin’s purges of the 1930s.
Today, the bandura is taught at the nation’s major conservatories and ensembles have become increasingly popular both at home and abroad, including Tcharivni Strouny — Magic Strings & Voices. Founded by Iryna Sodomora in 1973, the award-winning group has participated in numerous national and international competitions, and performed across the globe from Croatia, Hungary, France to Canada and the US.
For Tcharivni Strouny’s Taiwan performances, conductor and lead soloist Sodomora will lead 12 bandura players and singers aged between 15 and 22 as well as violin and flute players. The bill includes a colorful mix of Western classical music from the likes of Mozart, and contemporary compositions by Ukrainian bandura artists and traditional songs.
What: Tcharivni Strouny — Magic Strings and Voices from Ukraine
When and Where: Wednesday at Jhongli Arts Center (中壢藝術館), 16 Jhungmei Rd, Jhongli City (中壢市中美路16號); May 23 at Hsinchu Municipal Auditorium (新竹市文化局演藝廳), 17 Tungta Rd Sec 2, Hsinchu City (新竹市東大路二段17號); May 24 at National Concert Hall, Taipei (台北國家音樂廳), 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21之1號); May 25 at Sinjhuang Cultural Arts Center (新莊文化藝術中心), 133 Jhongping Rd, Sinjhuang, Taipei County (台北縣新莊市中平路133號); May 26 at Tainan Municipal Cultural Center (台南市立文化中心), 332, Chunghua E Rd Sec 3, Tainan City (台南市中華東路三段332號); May 27 at Kaohsiung’s Chih-Teh Hall (高雄市至德堂), 67 Wufu 1st Rd, Kaohsiung City (高雄市五福一路67號); May 28 at Yuanlin Performance Hall (員林演藝廳), 99, Ln 2, Chungcheng Rd, Yuanlin Township, Changhua County (彰化縣員林鎮中正路2巷99號); May 29 at Taichung Chungshan Hall (台中市中山堂), 98 Hsuehshi Rd, Taichung City (台中市學士路98號). All performances begin at 7:30pm except for the matinee show at 2:30pm in Sinjhuang on May 25
Tickets: From NT$500 to NT$1,200 for the Taipei show, NT$300 to NT$1,000 for the others, available through NTCH ticket outlets or at www.artsticket.com.tw
Instead of dealing with the weighty subjects of history and religion, the folk melodies mainly address romances between beautiful girls and young men, laments for lost love as well as a husband’s complaints about his fastidious mother-in-law.