EMLENTON, Pa. — In 1979, on the picturesque banks of the Allegheny River, bandura players from all over North America gathered for the first Kobzarska Sich bandura camp (KS). This year, we celebrate the camp’s 40th anniversary. Sixty teenage and adult musicians from all over the world gathered on August 4-18 in Emlenton, Pa., for two weeks of bandura playing and Ukrainian choral singing.
The 40th anniversary camp featured two core programs: the flagship two-week Bandura Course, and the one-week Choral Workshop. The camp was led by two music directors: Oleh Mahlay, artistic director of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America, and Julian Kytasty, artistic director of the Canadian Bandurist Capella. Nadia Tarnawsky, who has taught and studied Ukrainian folk singing for decades, including as a Fulbright Scholar, led the Choral Workshop.
This year, KS introduced elective courses for participants to broaden their musical knowledge. For an hour each day during the first week, instructors taught classes ranging from Introductory Music Theory to Composing and Arranging for the Bandura. Participants during the second week had the opportunity to sign up for week-long classes like Sound Amplification, Free Improvisation, Advanced Bandura Technique, and Conducting.
The KS 40th Anniversary Gala-Fundraiser took place on August 17-18 on-site at All Saints Camp. It began with the KS final concert, featuring classic pieces like “Pro Pravdu” (On Truth) and “Po Toy Bik Hora” (Between Two Mountains) and original compositions, like “Polissia” by Mr. Mahlay, honoring the region of Ukraine where his parents were born.
The concert also included an all-alumni performance, with former camp participants and instructors joining the KS 2019 ensemble on stage for two grand numbers: “Vziav by ya Banduru” (I Would Play the Bandura) and the epic “Homin Stepiv” (Echo of the Steppes). With more than 80 people on stage, the final ensemble brought together musicians from California, North Dakota, Connecticut, Michigan, Illinois, Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Washington D.C., Virginia, Massachusetts and Ukraine.
KS is not just for those who already know how to play. The Choral Workshop – which is just that, a one-week program for older teenagers and adults on Ukrainian choral singing – is a great way for neophytes to dip your toes into Kobzarska Sich. Or, for those who would like to join us for the two-week Bandura Course, we’ve got you covered: we can lend you a bandura, teach you how to care for it and give you information about scholarships, too. You don’t need to know how to read notes – we’ll teach you that as well.
Kobzarska Sich expressed gratitude to all of its supporters and donors in the final concert program booklet. Most notably, KS thanked the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America for its continued support of the program. Countless members of the UBC have volunteered their time for the last 40 years to be part of Kobzarska Sich. Today, most of the bandura players in the UBC can attribute their inspiration to play bandura to KS and other bandura camps.
For more information, readers may visit the website www.BanduraCamp.org. Questions or comments may be addressed to email@example.com.