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‘Midwinter Night: Sacred and Profane Rituals’ is a World Music Theater piece that includes the Koliadnyky, an ensemble of winter song singers from Kryvorivnia (Ukraine); an 18th century Baroque Nativity Folk Opera staged by Yara from New York and Goat Songs by the explosive Lemon Bucket Orkestra, a Balkan-klezmer-gypsy-rag-tag-punk super band, bringing together the most authentic Ukrainian traditions and presenting them with elegant and energetic interpretations by contemporary artists.
“Midwinter Night” celebrates the Hutsul Koliada, a winter ritual that now coincides with Christmas but is much older in origin and symbolism. Its oldest songs are preserved in villages high in the Carpathian Mountains, where the Koliada is considered to be the most important event of the year. Some people believe that spring and the harvest will not come to the village unless the songs are sung in every household. The songs are incantations that assume the magical power of words: ‘what is said, will be so.”
Instruments played by the Koliadnyky are distinctive. The trembita (Carpathian mountain horn) is made of a hollowed pine tree that has been struck by lightning and wrapped in birch bark. Trembitas are used primarily in the mountain pastures; in villages they are only used during the Koliada. Fiddles are played in the Carpathian style. The musicians also play the duda (bagpipes made from a goat), tsymbaly (hammer dulcimer), drumby (jaw harp) and a variety of hand-made Carpathian flutes.