VOLODYMYR LUCIW - A LIFE DEDICATED TO SONG AND UKRAINIAN CULTURE

10.09.19


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“… It is precisely through song that I was able to prevent myself from assimilating or dissolving among foreigners. I sang for over half a century and if the strings of my voice and bandura transmit to the innermost soul of a wider Ukrainian audience, then I will be able to assume that my song-work was not in vain… ”

Volodymyr Luciw

  

Born on 25 June 1929 in the town of Nadvirna in the Carpathian region of Ukraine to the family of an entrepreneur, Volodymyr Luciw was a renowned bandurist and concert tenor who tirelessly promoted Ukrainian music and culture throughout the world.

In 1944 he fled home to live with his sister in Poland before being taken to Germany. He remained in Germany after the war where he graduated at a Ukrainian High School and joined the Mykola Leontovych Bandura Ensemble in Goslar.

In 1948 he was granted permission to enter the UK and for the next three years he worked at the Salts Mill in Shipley whilst simultaneously taking private vocal lessons from Harry Horner, a local singer and teacher, before moving to London and then to Rome in 1952 where he took up studies at the Santa Cecilia National Academy. 

By the time he returned to London in 1958, Luciw had already begun performing on stage to a wider audience, complemented by appearances on radio and TV. He toured the UK with prominent artists, including Bruce Forsyth and Roy Hudd.

In 1961, representing the UK under the stage-name Tino Valdi, he along with Ken Kirkham, Kathy Kirby, Dick Francis and Carmita, won the Knokke-Heist Song Competition held in Belgium.

As a professional singer he continued to regularly perform (in eight languages) through the 1960s and into the 1980s at major international concerts and festivals and on radio and TV in the UK, the American continent, Western Europe and Australia as well as on the world's largest two passenger ships the "Queen Mary" and "Queen Elizabeth" (see b&w photo below).

For over 50 years he sang to the accompaniment of symphony orchestras, choirs and pianos but above all, he promoted the Ukrainian language and culture through dumy and national folk songs complemented by the bandura.

Luciw closely collaborated with the representative ensembles of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain the Manchester-based HominMale Voice Choir under the conductorship of his close friend Yaroslav Babuniak and the OrlykDance Ensemble under the stewardship of Dmytro Paradiuk and Maria Babych. Together they organised and successfully toured the United States and Canada twice. He also toured with Philadelphias Ukrainian Prometheus Choir conducted by Michael Forboh. During the 1960s and 1970s he recorded five records, which included Neapolitan songs in sung in the Ukrainian language.

From 1986, as a member of the Ukrainian Millennium Committee, he chaired the sub-committee tasked to organise a unique concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 29 May 1988 to commemorate the millennium of Christianity in Ukraine.  This brought together choristers from the UK, Canada, America and Holland to jointly perform sacred choral works of distinguished Ukrainian composers. The Millennium Choir would go on to perform in Rome in July that year in the presence of Pope John Paul II. 

His ability to organise events on a large scale saw him overseeing other major  commemorations, such as those held in Rome in 1996 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Union of Brest, the return of Cardinal Lubachivskyi to Ukraine  (1991) and the centenary of the birth of Patriarch Josyf Slipyj (1992).

He also organised a host of international tours for choirs, dance groups and individual artists in Europe and America: the USAs Dumka Choir tour of Europe (1985), Hollands Byzantine Choir tours of Ukraine (1990 and 2017), Ukraines Ministry of Internal Affairs song and dance ensemble tour of the USA (1995), the Lviv-Huddersfield Mriya and Vocal Expressions exchange tours (2004-05), the UKs Regency Voice Choir tour of Ukraine (2007), to name but a few..

He was awarded many honours, among them, by Decree of Patriarch Filaret,  the Order of St. Nicholas the Miracle worker for his services in helping with the revival and establishment of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (2009) and State Honours of Ukraine the Order of Merit of the Second Degree (2008) and Order of Merit of the Third Degree (2001) - for his significant personal contribution to strengthening cooperation and friendly relations with his homeland and forming its positive international image abroad.

Luciw authored several hundred articles and reviews in various publications and in 1999, his autobiographical book, From Bystricia to the Thameswas published by Divosvit Publishing House, Lviv.

In 2002 he founded a museum and a cultural and artistic trust fund in his hometown of Nadvirna which continues to support gifted and talented students to the present day. 

In June this year he attended a special concert performed in his honour by various artists and groups at the Lviv National Philharmonic to celebrate his 90th birthday.  Sadly, this was to be his last major public appearance.

Volodymyr Luciw died on 7 September 2019. He is succeeded by his wife Lesia and their three children, Anna, Ivanna and Oksana.

May his soul Rest in Peace!

AUGB Board of Directors

 

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2019-09-10-luciw-volodymyr-3.jpgVolodymyr Luciw during a visit to the Shevchenko Library and Archive earlier this year.



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