That Old Sheepskin Coat
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The Ukrainian Male Chorus of Edmonton

 Conductor – Orest Soltykevych

Assistant Conductor – Marcus Wasnea

Accompanist – Roman Soltykevych

For over 30 years the Ukrainian Male Chorus of Edmonton (UMCE) has pursued the objective of developing, promoting, and fostering a greater appreciation of the traditions of Ukrainian choral singing. The UMCE performed at Expo ’86 in Vancouver and represented Canada at the 1996 International Choral Festival in Missoula, Montana. In 2000, they performed at Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival in Dauphin, Manitoba. The chorus toured Poland and Western Ukraine in 2002, and later that year put on a gala concert at Edmonton’s Winspear Centre, with guest artists John Stetch and the Zuk Piano Duo.

Achieving renown beyond the Ukrainian community, the men’s choir has sung national anthems at Edmonton Oilers hockey games and at the CFL’s 1988 all-star game, and performed in the annual Men Making Music concerts. In 1994, they sang at Edmonton City Hall for the visit of the President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma.

The UMCE’s repertoire includes a substantial body of commissioned works, among them compositions by Yuri Shevchenko, Andriy Talpash and Willi Zwozdesky. In 2003, the latter’s “Malanka Suite” was premiered to wide acclaim. This work was released on CD under conductor Greg Maluzynsky, complementing the choir’s two previous recordings: That Old Sheepskin Coat (1992) and The Ukrainian Male Chorus of Edmonton LIVE! (2002). In 2005, the UMCE and the Belle Canto female choir of Edmonton presented concerts titled Slav and Soul to audiences in both Edmonton and Calgary. 

In another highly successful creative collaboration, this one under the baton of Svitlana Lysogor, the UMCE joined the Suzirya Ukrainian Dance Theatre of Calgary in the Virsky-inspired folk opera Kateryna. Produced by Serguei Makarov, Kateryna premiered in Calgary and Edmonton in June 2007, and thereafter toured to Winnipeg, Victoria and Nanaimo, Montreal and Ottawa, and four Australian cities. The full orchestral and choral soundtrack to Kateryna by composer Yevhen Dosenko was released as the choir’s fourth CD.

In April 2009, the UMCE lent its voices to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Carmina Burana and the Polovtsian Dances, critically acclaimed as one of the highlights of the ESO season. In 2011 and again in 2013, the chorus again joined the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra performing classical music from Ukraine. 

In the summer of 2014, the UMCE participated in the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia. The choir also performed in Poland and Austria.

Throughout its existence, the UMCE has hosted and performed at numerous events in the Edmonton area, and every December hosts a Christmas concert called "A Festive Mosaic". 

Orest Soltykevych, the UMCE’s founding and present conductor, formerly sang with the Richard Eaton Singers and is currently a member of the Da Camera Singers and Kapella Kyrie. Orest founded the program “Sounds Ukrainian” at CJSR Radio, and today he hosts the “Saturday Breakfast” on Alberta’s CKUA Radio Network. He is also music director of the Verkhovyna Ukrainian Choir.

The UMCE’s accompanist, Roman Soltykevych, has completed Grade 8 at the Royal Conservatory of Music and works as a Professional Engineer.


 

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