Banduras Bridge the Ages
"Today, in independent Ukraine, we need independent music, alternative, and new music. And in my opinion, the bandura is very suitable for this new sound" - Danylo Ilnytskyi
Traditional and contemporary music played on Ukrainian folk instruments was the highlight of this weekend in the city of Lviv in the west of Ukraine.
Thousands of bandura fans gathered for the 3rd annual edition of BandurFest.
The traditional Ukrainian instrument vitality is proven not just by the flocks of avid followers who amassed at the festival, but also by the modern ways they’ve embraced the traditional instrument.
A simulation of the Kharkiv-style bandura is now available on tablet and smartphone. A mobile application developed in Lviv allows users to play the traditional folk instrument, even if they’ve never held one in their hands.
The Chernihiv- and Lviv-style banduras, as well as the more traditional ‘starosvitska’, or ‘old world’ bandura, plus the Ukrainian kobza, torban and bubon, a type of tambourine common in Eastern European folk music are also available on the app.
“You can listen, play or read stories about these instruments in this modern, accessible form. You can also watch videos of bandura players performing and talking about the instrument,” said Mykhaylo Holoborodko, Bandura App developer.
Meanwhile, for folks at the festival seeking a more traditional bandura, they could listen to Ukrainian-American composer, singer, musician, and conductor Julian Kytasty.
His father and grandfather showed him the basics some 40 years ago. Unlike most, Julian is used to playing without special finger picks.
“It means I can get deeper under a string. I tried playing with finger picks on, but they would always get in the way,” he said.
And another Ukrainian-American singer-songwriter, musician, producer and luthier Yuriy Fedynsky doesn’t only play the bandura — he also makes them. Born in North Carolina, Fedynsky moved to Ukraine in 1998. He is now studying the ancient songs of the kobzars.
“We research, collect, craft, study, teach and perform. People want to know about their own native traditions. There is a lot of demand for this,” he said.
Every year, the Ukrainian bandura is becoming more popular. Musicians are constantly experimenting with the instrument’s sounds and capabilities.
“Today, in independent Ukraine, we need independent music, alternative, and new music. And in my opinion, the bandura is very suitable for this new sound,” said Danylo Ilnytskyi, a member of the Try Kroky v Nich (Three Steps Into the Night) band.
This year was the third time the LvivBandurFest was held. There were workshops, full courses, and competitions for those who wanted to learn or show off their skills.
The event ended with a sort of grand finale on Sunday (Nov. 10) with a large concert of bandura players.