Ukraine Tour 1990 – Performance at Stadium in Lviv

The Ukrainian Youth Ensembles consisting of the LEVADA WOMEN’S CHOIR, ORION MEN’S CHOIR & VANGUARD CONCERT/ MARCHING BAND (with Junior Drum Corps and Colour Guards) were founded in 1985, under the musical direction of the late Maestro Wasyl Kardash and were incorporated as a Non-Profit Charitable Organization on September 27, 1985 (Registered Charitable No. – 0733840-22-13 BN: 11927-5279-RR0001). During his long and dedicated career, Maestro Kardash mentored many outstanding musicians and singers who continue to perform today in this 110- member Ensemble. Currently, Zhanna Zinchenko is the Conductor of the Levada and Orion Choirs, while Roman Yasinsky is the Ensembles Artistic Director and Conductor of the Vanguard Concert / Marching Band. Since their inception, Reverend Ivan Trush is the Ensembles' spiritual advisor.

This critically acclaimed group, in colourful embroidered costumes and band uniforms symbolic of Ukrainian history and contemporary style, have not only entertained audiences in Canada, but also throughout Europe and the United States. The ideals - God, Liberty, Truth, Patriotism- are showcased in song through a multi-faceted repertoire. The Ensembles perform in various venues: parades, festivals, commemorative events, community celebrations, religious celebrations, concerts, and Divine Liturgies. Whatever the venue, their top priority is striving for the highest artistic achievement in a challenging and rewarding musical experience. Their season includes self-produced concerts, as well as performances upon invitation from other groups and organizations, delivering classical, contemporary, martial, folkloric, and liturgical repertoire to the delight of diverse audiences.

Canadian and American audiences enthusiastically receive the Levada and Orion Choirs and the Vanguard Concert/Marching Band, as they present their annual Christmas Concerts of koliadky and schedrivky, or when they deliver the Christmas spirit by carolling in private homes and in homes for the aged. On Easter Sunday, their annual choral presentation of Easter, spring and ritual songs – hayivky - warms the hearts of the Ukrainian Community and unites all generations through a musical tribute to our ancestors. The Ensemble members benefit the community by paying special attention to the sick and the elderly, as they perform at the Ukrainian Canadian Care Centre and the Ivan Franko Homes for the Aged. The Ukrainian Youth Ensembles also partner with other choral groups within the community to participate in benefit concerts, such as the Concert of Sacred Music organized by St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church.

The highlight of the Ukrainian Youth Ensemble’s existence was their triumphant concert tour of Ukraine in 1990 with the late Bishop Isidore Borecky (Eparch of Toronto and Eastern Canada), a great patron, and honorary member of the Ukrainian Youth Ensembles. During their three- week tour, they performed with local artists such as the Trembita State Choir , thrilling audiences in stadiums, concert halls and theatres in major Ukrainian cities - Lviv, Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Ternopil - while garnering critical acclaim in leading Ukrainian newspapers. The Ukrainian Youth Ensembles pride themselves on being the only North American artistic group to have entertained audiences of up to 60,000 in major stadiums in Western Ukraine - before the Orange Revolution, the largest peaceful uprising in history.

The Ensembles reached another milestone in October 2005, celebrating their 20th anniversary with a gala concert featuring works by famous composers such as Hnatyshyn, Shamo, Pashkevych, Mayboroda, and Hoydalo. A captivating DVD presentation of the Ensembles' twenty year history captured their members’ deep interest in music, their strong connection with rich tradition, and their dedication to the community.

Today, the Ukrainian Youth Ensembles consist of members who are passionate about choral and instrumental music. They demonstrate an insatiable desire for artistic growth as they look forward to the challenges of new repertoire and to forming new partnerships in the community. They enjoy singing the songs of their heritage, thus preserving their cultural identity, yet contributing to Canada’s multicultural fabric. Many of our choristers/band members are university and high school students, young professionals and retirees who together aspire to raising the Ensembles’ profile in the community. They pride themselves in uniting all the generations in a large and diverse musical family. Friendship, responsibility, discipline and spirit are virtues highly encouraged and fostered by Ensemble members.

The Ensembles thank God for their successes and at the same time pray for continued strength, patience and curiosity to realize their future goals for the glory of God, for their country Canada, for their ancestral land – Ukraine - and for music lovers all over the world.