The Maine Balkan Choir will present an afternoon of choral music from Ukraine in Belfast Sunday October 22nd,2023 at 3 PM. The locale will be the Unitarian-Universalist Church, 37 Miller Street. Proceeds of the event will go to a charity serving Ukraine families.
The Maine Balkan Choir was formed in 1998 in Hancock County. Since then they specialized in a capella music of Bulgaria,and a longtime Director fo the Choir was Elitsa Stoyneva who was studying in Orono but also a multiple winner of the Bulgarian National Singing contest. She brought a level of authenticity to the Choir that endeared them to audiences in Maine. In 2022 with the advent of Russia’s invasion, the Balkan Choir decided to present songs that reflect the rich Slavic singing and musical traditions of Ukraine. When we announced that we were beginning to rehearse these tunes, there was positive response from around the state and we decided to divide the singers in to three subgroups – Portland, Ellsworth and Belfast. We have now performed our music in Portland, Lewiston and the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity. All proceeds of each event are donated to charity. There is an active group of Belfast citizens that have conducted a city-to-city goodwill exchange with a city in Ukraine dating back a number of years prior to the 2022 invasion, and they reached out to us to ask that we add Belfast to the list. This seemed like a natural since one of the subgroups was based in that coastal town. The UU Church was eager to host us for the event.
The countries of eastern Europe are famous for Slavic choral singing, especially that shared by small groups of women while engaged in agricultural tasks. The tunes are melodic, often in minor keys, and the lyrics portray events in family life as well as the seasons of the year. Music provides a window into the day-to-day existence of a culture living in a challenging climate not dissimilar to Maine. The program includes love songs, lullabies, laments, and celebrations of harvest. The theme is the concert, Keeping a Ukrainian Heath Warm, was chosen to highlight the similarity between the lived experiences of Maine and Ukraine in a wintry climate.
The Choir includes some Ukrainian members who have helped us with pronunciation. We have been honored by this cross-cultural aspect of our rehearsals.
Suggested Donation is $10, but nobody will be turned away if they do not have the funds. Children are free. Families are welcome.