Iris Sopinka for NP, Toronto.
Ukrainians all over the world celebrate Taras Shevchenko’s life and death in March, every year, because of his deeply moving and prophetic poetry for an independent Ukraine. Never have his words been more truthful than today as Ukraine continues her fight against the Russian aggressor.
On Monday, March 20, 201, the UNF Boyan choir presented an evening of Taras Shevchenko songs and poems at the Ukrainian National Federation Hall on Evans Avenue in Toronto.
Conductor Mrs. Natalia Fuchylo introduced the evening with a short anecdote about the importance of celebrating the life of the great Ukrainian bard. Natalia’s mother was a Ukrainian language and literature teacher so Shevchenko was very dear to her heart. Every year, she would remind Natalia that Shevchenko’s life must be celebrated by Ukrainians and in her later years she would wave her cane at her reminding her that it was that time of the year again. Natalia said she would never forget this.
The Boyan choir sang a variety of Shevchenko songs and several members of the choir read her poetry alternating between song and poem. It was a very emotional evening. Shevchenko brings out the best and worst of Ukrainians and since we are a part of that nation, we understand the real meaning of his words and often cry or experience joy depending on the context.
Included in the evening’s repertoire were the following songs: The Wide Dnipro Howls, My Thoughts, Such is her Fate, In the Meadow, The Sun is Setting, My Evening Star, Embrace Yourselves Brothers, On the High Hill, Sleep Taras and My Testament.
The choir members chose their own poetry reading and did a splendid job. Maria Soroka read The Owl, Nadia Ostapchuk read The Poplar, Natalia Obal read two poems, It’s All The Same to Me and To Mothers, Daria Diakowska read For N. I. Kostomarov, Patricia Latyshko read The Story about the Writing of the Poem Testament and finally Natalia Fuchylo informed us about the most recent research on Shevchenko’s life. He liked to wear his fur coat and hat in photographs to show that he was a man of stature and wealth. He enjoyed wearing the latest fashion and at times would walk into a shop with his own design for apparel and would ask to have it made.
Dianna Fedun, President of the Ukrainian Women’s Organization, Toronto Branch had the final word and thanked all participants and the audience for a beautiful concert. I thank pne of the chior members for inviting me to the concert. Otherwise I would not have known about it. Going to the UNF hall to see a Taras Shevchenko concert has always been a part of my life. Pani Olha Rohatyn, my Ukrainian School teacher in Sudbury, instilled the love of his poetry in me and mentored me in my poetry recitals on stage. Taras Shevchenko was a part of my youth and I know that he will always remain a part of my life.