Growing up Nestor Petriw sang in several choirs including Ukrainian Dnipro Ensemble of Edmonton.
Surrounded by a musical family, he was to become part of a generation of community artists that emerged from the ranks to become dedicated ambassadors of Ukrainian musical culture.
Petriw was one of the founders of the Ukrainian Male Chorus of Edmonton, now celebrating its 31st season.
After obtaining a law degree in 1982, the Sturgeon County resident took a year off and travelled to Ukraine with two friends. Hungry for new artistic influences, the trio attended concerts and became enamoured of Ukraine’s eclectic folk music and how it expressed the nation’s essence.
“We were inspired to do something along a national folk choir. At the time Dnipro was going away from folk to more classical and avant-garde. For us, we were enchanted by the folk route,” said Petriw.
Back in Edmonton, the trio drew up a list of choral candidates. They contacted conductor Orest Soltykevich to discuss his possible interest and met at the Taipan CafĂ© on 97 St. close to Petriw’s law offices.
What started as the humble Ukrainian Male Chorus of Edmonton has grown organically into a national body with an international reputation.
Once again the 30-odd accomplished vocalists have lubricated their voices for the traditional winter concert, A Festive Mosaic, on Saturday, Dec. 5 at McDougall United Church.
Special guests Metropolitan Choir and Jubiloso! Bells of Concordia join them for a celebration of carols.
In concert, the choir’s goal is to preserve and nurture the old country’s vibrant culture and heritage. And in view of recent war-torn images of Ukraine, the folk-song concerto brings a sense of unity and solidarity with brethren in the homeland.
As Petriw explains, most folk songs date back to pagan times and early Christian traditions.
“Ukraine has a history of being agrarian. People live in harmony with the land. They developed tradition and culture that was connected to the earth. Even now people live in villages and lead simple lives that rely on the earth for everything.”
The concert is split into two parts with seven Ukrainian carols and six multi-national carols from Poland, Italy, Sweden, France, Germany and the United States – all sung in their national languages.
The choir is equally excited to perform with Edmonton Metropolitan’s 150-member choir and Jubiloso’s bell ringers.
“Their talents are like an infusion of fresh air and it’s joyful to hear them. To see them share their talents is special. When you present what is special about them, you have a whole buffet of talent.”
A Festive Mosaic
Ukrainian Male Chorus of Edmonton
With special guests Edmonton Metropolitan Chorus and Jubiloso! Bells of Concordia
Sunday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.
McDougall United Church
10025 101 St.
Tickets: $15/adults, $10/students, free for children under 10. Call 780-499-0422 or email UMCtickets@gmail.com