By Taras Melnyk.

    Sunday 8th October 2017 at the AUGB Cultural Centre in Rochdale, an annual concert took place.  It celebrated Ukrainian Independence Day, 75 years of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and the Feast of the Protectorate of the Mother of God (Pokrova). 

     There was a good attendance of people, both from the branch and from other nearby branches.  The Mayor of Rochdale Councillor Ian Duckworth and the Mayoress Mrs Christine Duckworth were also present.  

     The concert was opened by Mrs Maria Kopczyk, Deputy Chair of the AUGB branch, who welcomed all present.  Taras Melnyk lit a candle in remembrance of the Heroes of Maidan and of all the Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers that have perished fighting for the freedom of Ukraine.  The ladies of the branch choir “Czervoni Maky”, conducted by Susan Solomczak, performed a song “Bohorodytse Divo” (Hail Mary).  They were then followed by ladies from the guest choir from Stockport “Lastivka”, accompanied on the accordion by Michael Kuziv, performing their song “O Maty Bozhа” (O Mother of God).  

     Two short films “Raising of the Ukrainian Flag on Flag Day” and the “Military Parade on Khreszcatyk Street” were shown, prepared by Taras Melnyk.  There followed a reading about the events being commemorated.  

In their speeches, Mrs Irene Duchak and Mr Vlodko Duchak explained that whilst the War with Russia still continues in the Eastern part of Ukraine and matters with Putin are tense, the country is changing now with reforms shaping it towards a better future. They also covered the feast of “Pokrova”  from its origins in Constantinople to its adoption by the UPA as its patron and protector whilst defending Ukraine from invaders.  

      Guest singers from Stockport “Mirage” appeared next with two wonderful songs “Ukraino” (Ukraine) and “Moya Ukraino” (My Ukraine).  This was followed by a reading of a poem by Vlodko Duchak – Marta Hay’s “Po Slidakh Vovka” about the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.  

    The tempo of the concert changed with a dance, “Kozaczok”, perfomed by Stockport’s dance ensemble “Sokil” which was well received by the audience.  The choir “Czervoni Maky” then performed the song “Slava Voyinam UPA” after which they were joined for their second song with Stockport’s choir “Lastivka” “Zirvalasya Khurtovyna”, both relating to the UPA.  Choir Lastivka then performed “Czervona Ruta”.  

      A poem “Dedicated to Svyato Derzavnosty” (Independence Day) by an anonymous poet was performed by Natalka Kovaliv, from Stockport.  A film portraying UPA soldiers swearing an oath to fight for the Ukrainian Insurgent Army - “Oath of the UPA Soldier” - was shown next. 

    Songs “Ukraina” (Ukraine) and “Vzhe Voskresla Ukraina” (Ukraine has Risen) were sung by “Czervoni Maky”.  Chorister Irene Duchak read a translation of the Lesia Ukrainka poem,“Hope”.

A film “Story of Pokrova”, explaining the history of the feast of “The Protectorate of the Mother of God” was then shown.  It showed how over time the image of “Pokrova” was respected and used to protect warriors and people from invaders and from natural disasters.  Mrs Pivnyuk, a guest from Ashton then recited a wonderful and moving poem by Ostap Hrytsay “Molytva” (Prayer), written for the Feast of “Pokrova”.  Stockport’s “Sokil” then performed their final dance “Bilya Richky” (Near the River).

     All performers then appeared on stage and Maria Kopczyk thanked everyone for their performances and all who attended, before Michael Bidny thanked everyone in English and wished everyone a safe journey home.  The Mayor of Rochdale Councillor Ian Duckworth also had a few words of thanks to all who took part and mentioned how much he enjoyed the afternoon.  The singing of the Ukrainian National Anthem concluded the proceedings.

     The afternoon continued with tea, coffee and cakes and people were able to mingle and to catch up with their friends from near and afar.


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