shevchenko-rochdale-2011.jpgA concert about the life and works of Taras Shevchenko took place on the Saturday 26th March in the hall of the AUGB branch in Rochdale to mark 150 years since his death. 

The ladies of the Association of Ukrainian Women in GB (OUZh), under the leadership of Luba Lawrence decorated the hall very well; on the walls hung an assortment of Shevchenko portraits together with his paintings, drawings and poems.  Carved woodwork decorated tables around the hall symbolising the strength of Ukrainian creativity.  The stage was decorated with national blue and yellow flags with a “Tryzub” on the backdrop.  There was a large portrait on the stage with a copy of the “Kobzar”.  On a plinth in front of the stage stood a small ceramic statue of a Kobzar with bandura.  

The chair of the AUGB (Rochdale branch), Walter Duchak opened the concert and welcomed all present.  The local OUZh choir led the first performance with “Zapovit” (The Testament), under the leadership of conductress Susan Solomczak to the accompaniment of her daughter Larisa Killoran on flute.  The words of this same poem were also recited in English by Iryna Duchak.  A biography of the life and works of Shevchenko was delivered in Ukrainian by Walter Duchak and in English Maria Bdzola.  During the readings, the author of this article projected a slide show of Shevchenko’s artworks (paintings and drawings) onto a large screen – adding illustrations to the spoken word.  

Two young pupils from the Ukrainian Language School, Danylo Vovkun and Harry Hoyle respectively recited the poems: “Pro Tarasa Shevchenka” (“About Taras Shevchenko”) and “Ya Malenkey” (“I am Small”).  This was followed up by two songs from the OUZh choir: “Ukraino” (“Ukraine”) and “Spi' Tarase, Spi'” (“Sleep Taras, Sleep!”).  In between these performances, Peter Duchak read a poem by local poet Tonia Demyancuk Szalapay: “Tarasovi Shevchenkovi” (“To Taras Shevchenko”), who herself was also present at the concert. 

Alongside these performances, an audio-visual show was projected showing more of Shevchenko’s artwork to the accompaniment of lovely melodies and songs from his work “Do Osnavyanenko” (“To Osnavyanenko”) and “Yest na Sviti Dolya” (“There is Destiny in this World”).  The next performance was by Natalka Hewka with the poem “The Mighty Dnipro”, an English translation of “Reve ta Stohne”.  There followed a joint poem written by Lesia Hraplyva “Tarasy Shevchenku” (“To Taras Shevchenko”), performed by teachers from the Ukrainian School – Maria Kopczyk and Olya Kearns.

With the last song “Reve ta Stohne” (“The Mighty Dnipro”), the OUZh choir brought this commemoration to a conclusion.  After an acknowledgement of thanks from the chair of the AUGB branch, the concert ended with the singing of the Ukrainian National Anthem.

At the end, the OUZh ladies, together with helpers served all those present with tea, coffee and cakes and additionally more films were shown on the screen about Taras Shevchenko, concluding this very atmospheric evening.

Taras Melnyk


Ukrayinska Dumka


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