This is the sound of Ukraine. The bandura; a string instrument dating back to the Middle Ages. It combines the characteristics of both the lute and the harp. And with anywhere between 20-65 strings, it's no easy feat to play. These musicians are the latest generation learning. Today, they're showcasing their talent in a nationwide contest. The event aims to make the classical art more popular. There's also another purpose. By bringing performers and composers together, organizers hope to develop new rhythms and sounds – to make the bandura more enriching.
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Nataliya Zagrebelna has been learning to play the bandura for seven years - often combining it with choral singing. But she explains the instrument is much more than just one for traditional compositions.
Nataliya Zagrebelna, Bandura player: "The bandura is a very versatile instrument. We can perform not only Ukrainian folk songs but also classical works, violin concerts and even rock. Just for myself, I tried to play Metallica"
This instrument has not always been so celebrated throughout Ukraine's turbulent history. During Soviet times, authorities tried to stop any nationalist sentiment. Although not banned completely, traditional works were replaced with lesser well known ones. Teaching also became more acaedmic. Despite this, the bandura remains popular, even outside of Ukraine's borders.
Roman Grynkiv, Ukrainian bandura player: "It's great. If you can really play the instrument, the feedback is wonderful. It's like the whole orchestra in your hands. You can play any music like we did today. You can play popular music, folk sounds, personal compositions and people around the world like it when you get so much from one instrument"
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With many people with Ukrainian roots now living abroad in the likes of Canada and the USA, its hoped the bandura sound will be passed on for generations to come.
Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus website: bandura.org
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