January 22, 1923 – March 22, 2002

Wasyl Kardash – a Ukrainian nationalist, Holocaust survivor, mentor , specialist in Slavic Studies (MA), and maestro - was born in the Ternopil region of Ukraine where he demonstrated a remarkable talent for music at a very early age. He conducted school and church choirs, and a marching band in his home town of Novosilka; in 1940 he was the youngest conductor ever to have won first place in a competition/festival of choirs in the Pidhayechyna region of Ukraine.

Although Wasyl Kardash was invited to pursue studies in music, both in Italy and Russia, the Second World War and his commitment to freedom for Ukraine stifled these prospects. He joined the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalist, where his patriotic endeavours led to the arrest of his father, brother, and himself by the Gestapo. All three were transported to Auschwitz, after which they faced slave labour, as prisoners of war, at the Nazi concentration camps of Mathausen. Melk, and Ebenese. On Easter Sunday, May 6, 1945, Wasyl Kardash was liberated by the Americans. This was seen as a resurrection, as he was literally pulled from a pile of dead bodies. A miracle had spared him for the purpose of bringing music to others!

Before emigrating to Vancouver in 1948, he studied politics, deepened his knowledge of music and conducted two choirs in Munich, Germany. In Canada, he taught several generations of people, by example, focusing on the importance of hard work and perseverance. Maestro Wasyl Kardash organized and led numerous church choirs, choral ensembles and bands in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Toronto; being a member of the choral federation combined with his generosity of spirit, allowed him to share his music with many music lovers around the world.

In Toronto, Maestro Kardash was the founder and director of the Dibrova Women’s Choir and the Baturyn Concert/ Marching Band, and conductor of the Prometheus Men’s Choir. During this tenure, he organized a successful European Tour for these Ensembles in 1972. In 1975, the Dibrova and Prometheus Choirs placed first in a Choral Festival in Eastern Canada.

In 1985, Maestro Kardash became the founder and artistic director of the Ukrainian Youth Ensembles which included the Levada Women’s Choir, Orion Men’s Choir, Vanguard Concert/ Marching Band, and the Junior Drum Corps. His high standards, discipline, ardor, passion for music and politics, good heart, and generosity of spirit touched all the members of the Ensembles. Maestro Wasyl Kardash and His Excellency Bishop Isidore Borecky exemplified an esprit de corps which was very unique; to-gether they were the inspiration for the three-week tour to Ukraine in 1990, which was the culminating point in Maestro’s artistic career – a realization of a life-long dream – to return and make music in his beloved Ukraine.

This deeply religious Maestro strived for perfection in himself and sought the same in others. He inspired many to realize their musical talents and to love their ancestral land, Ukraine.

May His Memory be Eternal!