For 25 years, Ukrainians around the world have celebrated independence in their fatherland. For those same 25 years, Ukrainians in Chicago have forged a bond with Ukraine’s ancient Capital, Kyiv. As part of a year-long celebration of Ukraine’s independence and the founding of a Chicago-Kyiv Sister Cities Committee, we’re dipping into the winter season’s deep symbolism of rebirth and renewal with some of the youngest, brightest, and most talented Ukrainian musicians in North America.

For Ukrainians, “Happy Holidays” doesn’t only mean Christmas, but also the feasts of Theophany, Malanka, Basil, and St. Nicholas. When celebrated, these winter holidays maintains a thread of thousands of years of pagan and Christian music. The concert titled “Ukrainian Winter Evenings” will be an opportunity to share Ukraine’s rich soundscapes—from the original Carol of the Bells to modern folk tunes—with Chicago.

Headlining the concert will be the 2016 Kobzarska Sich Bandura Ensemble under the direction of Artistic Director and Conductor Oleh Mahlay. The ensemble is made up of students from across North America, who come together for two weeks every year for to learn a full concert repertoire on the bandura, Ukraine’s 60-stringed national instrument. Last year, the ensemble performed at Massey Hall in Toronto with Eurovision winner Ruslana and at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington D.C. In the past, the ensemble has also performed in Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. Further supplementing the program will be local artists, folklorists, and solo performers.

Ticket proceeds will ensure that a new, forward-looking generation of Ukrainian-American and Ukrainian-Canadian musicians and folklorists will keep the spirit of winter alive and the Chicago-Kyiv bond strong.

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