American expat reviving traditional Ukrainian art of kobzaring announces tour across Europe

Jurij Fedynskyi performing in Atlanta, US, for local Ukrainian community in July 2021. Photo: Facebook/Liudmyla Zapukhliak 


Jurij Fedynskij, a musician reviving the traditional Ukrainian art of kobzaring, or singing ballads to the accompaniment of the kobza, has re-announced his musical tour across Europe, earlier disrupted in spring 2020 by COVID-19 lockdown.

The American-born Ukrainian musician is going to visit a number of locations in continental Europe with free concerts of traditional Ukrainian historic and folk songs. You can invite him to your city.

Jurij, according to his website, will present the “lost national instruments of Ukraine,” namely the traditional torban, bandura, and kobza – three multi-stringed instruments of the lute family, and give a lecture “about the heart and history of Ukraine, through her greatest poets, statesmen, and blind singers.”

Poster image of the upcoming tour.

Jurij Fedynskij announced his tour “Kobzaring across Europe” earlier this month on his Facebook page:

“I’d like to formally announce my next kobzaring adventure – finally to Europe! I’ll be traveling by myself in a van filled with unique and rare Ukrainian ‘lost’ instruments, including two torbans, two kobzas, a kobzar bandura, and a panska bandura.”

At the moment of the announcement, the tour was planned and booked. Jurij stated that he’d have the possibility to travel anywhere and everywhere with “no venue is out of bounds.”

“I’m targeting mainly the Ukrainian diaspora hotspots, but also universities, and organizations outside the Ukrainian communities. All events are free of any charge to anyone! I cover all expenses myself,” Jurij wrote.

You can invite Jurij to your city on his tour

The musician says that the mission of his tour is to “spread the kobzar word to the world, but also to support Ukrainian culture abroad” and asks to contact him if your community would like to host his performance,

“If anyone from any community in Europe might be interested in hosting a special evening filled with history, music, philosophy, and culture, please send me a message request through Facebook. Again, all I require is a date and place, such as a cultural center, school, library, or even home. Very simple. Very effective.”

The most recent map of his tour shows the cities where Jurij Fedynskij is going to perform soon, the exact dates and venues can be found in Jurij’s Facebook post:

Map of the cities in Europe where the upcoming kobzaring tour’s concerts are going to take place in October-November 2021 Europe. Source.

Meet Jurij Fedynskij

For some two decades, American-born musician Jurij Fedynskij has been discovering his mission to revive the nearly lost kobzar tradition. He’s not just a performer on kobza, torban, and traditional bandura – the Ukrainian historic musical instruments, Juriy makes the instruments himself in his shop located in a central Ukrainian village of Kryachkivka.

How an American expat pulled the Ukrainian art of Kobzaring back from the brink of extinction

Back in the U.S. Jurij Fedynskij studied piano and one of the best-known Ukrainian folk instruments, bandura. After the break-up of the USSR, he moved permanently to his ancestral Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, where he continued studying bandura and co-founded several folk ensembles.

Ukrainian traditional instruments manufactured in Fedynskyi’s shop. “My work is in the foreground, the apprentices’ on the wall,” he commented.

For the past 12 years, Jurij Fedynskyj has worked to “resurrect the traditional Ukrainian torban, bandura, and kobza, after Soviet attempts to erase all memory of the instruments, players, and traditions related thereof,” according to his website. For that, he founded a folk instrument workshop and a guild of makers and performers in the village of Kryachkivka, Poltava Oblast, where he reconstructs the lost manufacturing techniques and teaches others to make their instruments.

“Duma of Khvedir Bezridnyi” performed by Jurij Fedynskyi:

The luthier also gives classes in a summer kobzar camp, teaching crafts and music practices on torban – the Ukrainian theorbo lute’s relative, various historic versions of bandura and kobza, lyra – Ukrainian hurdy-gurdy, and gusli – the oldest east-Slavic plucked string instrument. Jurij also hosts the annual music festival “Drevo Rodu Kobzarskoho” (“Tree of Cossack Kin”) in his village.

Having shared the map on Facebook on 27 September, Jurij once again reminded that you can also invite him to your city on this tour for a free concert,

“If anyone has the desire or interest to bring this program to your hometown, please write me a note through Messenger, or comment on this post. It’s not too late! I’ll be accepting invitations one more week!”

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