Desna Ukrainian Dance Co.
The Desna Ukrainian Dance Co. of Toronto is the most frequent collaborator with the Shevchenko Musical Ensemble, bringing the dance component to this unique performing group.
Originally a choral ensemble, Desna appeared on the arts scene in 1974 and 35 years ever since Desna has been dazzling audiences throughout Canada, the US and abroad with a wide repertoire of Ukrainian dances. The group presents technically demanding and exhilarating dances accented by exquisite costumes and diverse music. Desna’s current repertoire consists of traditional Ukrainian dances such as Pryvit, Hutsul, Bukovynian, Kozachok and Hopak. However, it is the group’s strong belief that the key to celebrating and broadening tradition lies in contrasting it with new and different styles of dance. This led to the creation of a series of new dances including the Canadian Country Dance, Gypsy, African Miners’ Dance, various comedic numbers, and a modernized Ukrainian dance called Vohon.
In 2010 the Desna Ukrainian Dance Company successfully marked its 35th anniversary by celebrating Desna’s rich history and its outstanding contribution to the dance world both in Canada and abroad.
Desna is honoured to be under the artistic direction of Luba and Yuri Grekov, graduates of the Virsky National Academy of Dance in Kyiv. In addition to having a comprehensive knowledge of Ukrainian dance, they are professionally trained in many styles of international dance, including Spanish, Gypsy, Greek, Moldovan, Georgian and Mexican. Having toured throughout Europe and North America, Luba and Yuri performed with Moscow’s Godenko dance troupe, Kyiv’s Virsky dance company, and Ukraine’s Hopak ensemble.
Luba and Yuri teach the Virsky style of Ukrainian dance, which encompasses an in-depth ethnological knowledge and conveys the spirit and richness of Ukrainian dance. For ten years and counting, they have been essential sources of artistic and creative vision for the Desna Ukrainian Dance Company of Toronto.
While the Toronto Mandaolin Orchestra has had many outstanding guest artists appear on their programs, perhaps the most memorable and inspiring, for the musicians and audience alike, have been the appearances of domra virtuoso Tamara Volskaya from Brooklyn, New York.
Tamara was first invited to Canada by the Shevchenko Ensemble in 1992 to perform with the TMO at Columbus Centre. In 1996 the Guild brought Tamara all the way from Ekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains to appear with the orchestra in Glenn Gould Studio.
So successful and popular was this performance that Tamara, by that time resident in New York, was invited back in 1999 to appear once again with the Toronto Mandolin Orchestra. For this appearance Alexander Veprinsky, Artistic Director of the Shevchenko Musical Ensemble and conductor of the orchestra, made history by arranging George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for solo domra and mandolin orchestra. Since that time Tamara has appeared a number of times with the orchestra and Ensemble as a whole performing Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso by Saint-Saens, Shostakovich’s Burlesque (Finale from the Violin Concerto Nº 1, Scheherazade Suite Excerpts by Rimsky-Korsakov and more.
Tamara Volskaya began her music studies on the domra at the Kyiv Music College in Ukraine where she revealed an exceptional talent at an early age. As a teenager not yet graduated from the College, but already a master of the instrument, Tamara was admitted to the P. Tchaikovsky State Conservatory in Kyiv.
After graduation Tamara accepted a position at the Mussorgsky Urals State Conservatory in Ekaterinburg (then known as Sverdlovsk). In addition to organizing and heading the Folk Instrument Faculty at the Music School for Gifted Students in Ekaterinburg, she conducted master classes with these exceptional students, preparing them for competitions and solo performances. She also continued to master an ever-widening solo repertoire of her own. In Ekaterinburg Tamara attained a professorship and was awarded the honour Merited Artist of Russia.
Tamara appeared on Russian radio and television, produced two solo albums and appeared as guest artist with the famous Osipov Folk Instrument Orchestra of Moscow.
At the Urals Conservatory she met and married Anatoliy Trofimov, also a professor of folk instruments at the Urals State Conservatory, and they became a popular musical duo traveling and performing in Russian and other republics of the Soviet Union.
Tamara and Anatoliy have performed in Australia, at the International Music Festival in Kobe, Japan as well as in Tokyo; the International Mandolin Festival in Logrono, Spain, the Haapavesi Folk Festival in Finland and in a number of Canadian cities. They perform regularly throughout the USA as a bayan-domra duo and as members of the Russian Carnival Ensemble, a lively group of five exceptional performers on folk instruments. Tamara also performs as soloist with a number of chamber and symphonic orchestras.
Kevin Budd completed degrees in music (on flute and recorder) and education at York University and shortly after, inspired by pan flute idol Zamfir and others, he travelled to Romania to learn the pan flute, national instrument of that country, since there were neither pan flutes nor a way of learning the pan flute in North America.
He has now specialized in the pan flute as both a composer and performer for over two decades and is also North America’s most renowned builder of professional pan flutes. He has taught at the Arosa Music Festival in Switzerland, performed as a soloist with regional orchestras, (including the Toronto Mandolin Orchestra) and has played for movie soundtracks, commercials, and recordings.
Eric Stein, cimbalom
Eric Stein is a versatile multi-instrumentalist (cimbalom, mandolin, bass) with a background in rock, funk, bluegrass and klezmer music. His extensive knowledge of klezmer music has earned him stature not only as a performing artist with numerous groups – Beyondthe Pale (of which he is the founder), Hu Tsa Tsa, Socalled, Tio Chorinho – but as a leading lecturer, educator, and artistic curator in the contemporary Jewish music world. Since 2006 Eric has served as Artistic Director of Toronto’s Ashkenaz Festival, North America’s largest festival of Yiddish and Jewish culture. Eric is also a longtime faculty member at Montreal’s KlezKanada Festival, has taught at KlezKamp, and leads a weekly klezmer ensemble workshop at Toronto’s downtown JCC. Eric has also performed as orchestral soloist with a number of chamber groups and symphonies, including National Arts Orchestra, I Musici de Montreal, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Toronto Philharmonia, Toronto Mandolin Orchestra and others. Eric was educated at McGill University (B.A., M.A).
Alexander Sevastian is an internationally-acclaimed performer on the bayan, the Russian-style button accordion.
Born in Minsk, Belarus, Sevastian began playing the accordion at the age of seven. After finishing musical school in 1991, he attended the Glinka Musical College in Minsk, followed by the Gnessin Academy of Music in Moscow. In 1998 Sevastian studied with Professor Elisbeth Moser at the Sofia Goubaidulina Master Class in Avignon, France. From 1996 until 2001 he was a member of the Russian TV and Radio Orchestra, recording TV performances and radio tapes. Moving to Toronto in 2001, he completed an Advanced Certificate in Performance program from the University of Toronto and in May 2002 he returned to Russia to complete his post-graduate course in Moscow. Alexander has performed across Canada, as well as in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Germany, Serbia, Italy, Portugal, Japan, Mexico, and the USA.
He has appeared as soloist with such prestigious orchestras as the Toronto Symphony and the Calgary Philharmonic. In 2007 he was the winner of the Coupe Mondiale World Accordion Championships in Washington, D.C. Sevastian currently plays and tours with Toronto Woodwinds and Quartetto Gelato, two internationally-renowned ensembles. He appeared for the first time with the Toronto Mandolin Orchestra in Glenn Gould Studio on November 11, 2012