Top international choir spared war service to come to Kirkby Lonsdale

Boyan Ensemble
Boyan Ensemble

Members of one of the world’s greatest male choirs have been spared from fighting in a conflict raging in their homeland due to their importance to their country as cultural ambassadors both at home and internationally.

The Boyan Ensemble, which is the travelling section of the Revutsky Academic Male Capella based in Kiev, Ukraine, will be performing at St Mary’s Church, Kirkby Lonsdale, on Saturday October 10 at 7.30pm, as part of an extensive tour of Britain.

The 25 professional singers are scheduled to perform 23 concerts in September and October, with a programme of sacred chants which reflect the splendour of the Eastern Orthodox tradition and rich Ukrainian folk songs of joy, humour and heroism, some of which are accompanied on instruments unique to their country. The tour is taking place against a background of deepening financial and social crisis in their homeland as civil war continues in the Donbass region where the infrastructure has been virtually destroyed, the casualty rate is soaring and nearly 2m people have been displaced.

Vigilante military recruiters regularly raid shopping centres, public transport, parks and other public open spaces to press gang young men into the armed services, but members of the choir have not yet been called upon for military service due to their cultural importance.

Margarete Rolle, the organiser of the Boyan’s British tours for the past 23 years, said: “There has been serious ongoing concern that our singers would be conscripted into the army, but we decided to throw caution to the winds and go ahead with this tour because to cancel it would have caused bitter disappointment on all sides.

“This tour demonstrates that there’s more to Ukraine than bombs and bullets, a worn-out Soviet infrastructure and a bedevilled political system. Whatever its problems, Ukraine has a rich, traditional culture which never fails to impress and members of Boyan are exemplary ambassadors of this powerful musical heritage.

“There are devastating circumstances facing the nation, the economy is perilously close to default and an economist recently quipped that compared to Ukraine, Greece looks like Switzerland. The dire financial situation and austerity measures make life very difficult for the singers who struggle to provide for their families.

“They are reliant on their government’s funding but this has become tenuous under the circumstances.”

Tickets for the concert are £18 for adults and £16 for concessions and are available from the Visitor Inf. Shop at 24, Main Street (tel. 015242 71437) and from Finestra Gallery, 12, Main Street. For enquiries/ postal bookings, email cathywynne@fastmail.fm.