Face Music - about artists - Khreshchaty Yar
  • Khreshchaty Yar - Traditional songs, instrumental pieces and dances from the Ukraine

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P & C December 1998
- Face Music / Albi

- last update 03-2016

- Volodymyr Budz: leader
voice, accordion, sopilka (Ukrainian duct flute, 30-40 cm long, with 6 fingerholes), tylynka (large end-blown flute without fingerholes made of a 60-80 cm long metal tube), frilka (small duct flute with 6 fingerholes made of a 20-50 cm long metal tube), sosulya (vessel flute, used to imitate bird calls such as that of the cuckoo), little bell
- Volodymyr Biletsky:
voice, soloist, drum, buben (frame drum), dance
- Valentyna Bogdanova:
voice, soloist, dance
- Ivan Volynets:
voice, soloist, dance
- Valery Golub:
voice, folk fiddle
- Vasil Palanjuk:
voice, tsymbaly = cymbalom (hammered dulcimer), sopilka (Ukrainian duct flute), dvodenzivka (double duct flute), tylynka (large endblown flute without fingerholes made of a 60-80 cm long metal tube), rebro (pan pipe), sosulya (vessel flute or cuckoo), drymba (jew's harp), bukhalo (drum), spoons, bottles and washboard
- Anatoliy Kurylo:
voice, drum, hupalo ("hooter")
- Yuri Berbenyuk:
double bass

The ensemble Khreshchaty Yar was founded in June 1990. All its members have studied either at the conservatory or at the music academy in Kiev and are now musicians by profession.

The name of the ensemble can be explained in two ways:
- Yar = "gorge, ravine" and Khreshenye = "baptism". There is a main street in Kiev with this name and it is said that in 988 AD Prince Volodymyr led his people on this road (at that time it was a country road) to the river Dnepr for baptism.
- The second explanation derives from an archaic meaning of the two words: Khreshaty = "to be reborn again and again, having reached immortality"; Yar or Yarylo meant "Sun God". Thus, the two words combined stand for the "eternal, immortal or everlasting sun".

The repertory of the ensemble comprises traditional songs and instrumental pieces from Central and Western Ukraine, e.g. orally transmitted folk songs telling about every day events or songs that belong to particular Ukrainian ceremonies or festivities, as well as historical songs, songs of the Cossacks, and ballads. The performance of the songs is either polyphonic or solo with instrumental accompaniment.

The musicians play the following traditional instruments: sopilka (duct flute), dvodenzivka (double duct flute), tylynka (long end-blown metal flute), frilka (short metal flute), rebro (pan pipe), sosulya (vessel flute or cuckoo), tsymbaly (hammered dulcimer), folk fiddle, chromatic accordion, drymba (jew's harp), bukhalo (drum), buben (frame drum), little bell, spoons, bottles and washboards.

The artists of Khreshchaty Yar wear local costumes for their performances and in their programmes, there are included dances that reflect the living tradition and great variety of Ukrainian folklore.

Although many different peoples passed through the geographical territory of the Ukraine, settled and even ruled there, the Ukraine maintained its Slavonic traditions. Traditional Ukrainian music is predominantly heterophonic: the same melody is distributed among different voice parts, of which one is always the leading voice. There is a rich repertory of many famous Cossack songs and dance traditions. This music has its roots in a centuries old oral tradition of bylina (epics, heroic narrative poetry) and dumas, that is long lyrical ballads glorifying the exploits of the Cossacks.
Folk music is the life and soul of the Ukrainians. Their songs portray this people's history, their characteristics and features as well as the Ukrainian landscape. The songs also speak of ethics and the social rules of living together. This is a real treasure that has been preserved up to date.
The instrumental folk music in the Ukraine reveals itself in various forms. On the one hand, there are solos performed on bagpipes, the violin, the bandura etc. and, on the other hand, ensemble performances, e.g. by the traditional trio called "troista muzyka", mainly played for dance events and marching parades.
It is a characteristic feature of traditional dance music genres that they belong either to geographical (autochthonous) or to particular ethnic areas. So, the dance kolomiyka is known in the Ukrainian Carpathians and the neigbouring regions, the hopak and the cossachok are known in the entire Ukrainian ethnic territory, whereas the polka and folk samples of the waltz belong to Slavonic and non-Slavonic traditions of the European area. The interaction with Polish, Czech, Slovak and Hungarian folklore in the Western parts (the Carpathians) is revealed in the stabilization of the usual Western metrics, whereas in Eastern regions asymmetric rhythms and asymmetric lyrical metres are predominant, and the harmonic basis of lyric songs is strictly functional. In the Southwestern part of the Carpathians (Bukovina region), there are resemblances to Moldavian and Romanian instrumental music.
Apart from dance music there exists the improvised music of the shepherds, which is played on instruments like e.g. the violin, the sopilka (end-blown shepherd's flute), the trembita (the Ukrainian version of the alpine horn, usually some three meters long; it was primarily used by the shepherds for signaling events such as weddings or funerals in the mountain regions of the Ukraine and also kolyadky (carols) were played at Christmas) and the drymba (jew's harp). These are usually instrumental versions of song forms.

Latest compact discs:
- Traditional songs from the Ukraine - Vol. I - FM 50031
- Traditional songs from the Ukraine - Vol. II - FM 50032

watch profile in: and (Cossacks songs)

- published by Green Man Review
- published by Folkmagazin - 2002
- published by Ethnotempos - 2006

You can find more information about traditional songs of the Cossacks in the albums with the Ensemble Pesnokhorki from Barnaul, Siberia / Russia - Face Music: FM 50017 and FM 50019

. - more information Traditional Music and Instruments from the Ukraine

Geschichte, Sprache, Bräuche und Religion der Ukrainer (kurzer Überblick)

Ensemble Khreshchaty Yar

Translations: Silvia Delorenzi-SchenkeL
Many thanks for helping to the good souls Thomas Häusermann, Hermelinde Steiner and Zimi