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Trembita | About our orchestra | History | Contact Information | 35th Anniversary
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This page is dedicated to the many people who worked so diligently over the years
to make Trembita a successful organization. Their work has allowed so many Ukrainians
of all ages to learn music, Ukrainian culture, teamwork and performance skills. It has
given them many opportunities to travel, meet other people and places, and learn about
what they can accomplish together.

1967-1968 | 1968-1977 | 1977-1985 | 1985-1988
1988-1995 | 1995-1997 | 1997-2002 | 2002-present

Formation (1967-1968)

Expo 67, Montreal Trembita's great history began in the aftermath of the World's Fair; Montreal's Expo '67. That summer, which was filled with excitement and fanfare, brought over 50 million visitors to Montreal for the exhibition. This included a gathering of 400 Ukrainian Youth Association (UYA) members from the United States and Canada at the UYA's campground Werchowyna near St. Theodore-de-Chertsey, Quebec. The celebrations sparked the idea among members of the UYA Montreal branch's Fathers' Committee, for a marching band to be created within the organization. Mykola Andrusiak, the Fathers' Committee's director of Cultural Affairs, Myron Kocur and Yaroslav Humenny (Fathers' Committee members), took on the task forming the band. Rostyslav Kulish, UYA's Director of Cultural Affairs, agreed to be the band's first conductor. Purchasing the band's first instruments was an extremely expensive assignment that was aided by generous donations from Montreal's Ukrainian community. After completing this step the band was ready to begin rehearsing.

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Rostyslav Kulish (1968-1977)

On February 23, 1968 thirty musical enthusiasts took part in the first ever Trembita practice. It was then that Rostyslav Kulish's invaluable work and commitment to Trembita took off. Kulish arranged the first of his 70 songs for Trembita in that year and conducted practices twice per week. During the yearly UYA summer camp at Werchowyna, Trembita played in front of an audience for the first time. Chyzhyku, Chyzhyku and Kazav Meni Batko were performed.

First Edition of Trembita The band's membership grew rapidly. The momentum was generated by 11 performances in 1969, followed by 10 more the following year. Within two years, Trembita doubled in size to over sixty players. The musical quality also increased as did the band's repertoire. It was largely made up of Kulish's arrangements. Trembita became a fixture at certain regular Ukrainian community events in Montreal like the annual Cotes-des-Neiges cemetary procession during Pentacost as well as some other annual Ukrainian concerts. It also played to the wider Montreal community on several occasions. Trembita participated in events such as the St. Patrick's Day Parade, the 'Man and His World' exhibition that succeeded Expo '67 for a number of years as well as some hospital visits throughout the community, namely le Centre Mackay and the Veterans' Hospital. Outside Montreal, Trembita performed in Canadian cities such as Ottawa, Sudbury, and St.Catherines. There were also trips to the United States including performances in Ellenville, Albany and Kerhonkson, NY.

In his tenth year as Trembita's conductor, Rostyslav Kulish resigned. This was the end of the first chapter in Trembita's history. New faces filled the band's lineup under the leadership of Yourko Kulycky.

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Yourko Kulycky (1977-1985)

Ellenville, NY, 1978 After its first decade of existence, Trembita was in need of some restructuring. The large turnover of band membership in 1977 showed that something needed to be done to keep developing young players for the orchestra. Yourko Kulycky provided the solution. Kulycky, a McGill University music student and Trembita player, became the orchestra's second conductor. He and Kocur established a music school under the Fathers' Committee that would guarantee a constant flow of young players to the band. Kulycky taught the students how to read and write music, as well as basic playing skills for each instrument. Kocur was the administrator of the school. He was already Trembita's general supervisor since 1972 and continues to hold both of these posts to this day.

Trembita, 1980 During Kulycky's eight years as conductor, new members filled Trembita and built up the orchestra once again. He focused on raising the musical quality of the band and proved to be successful. Kulycky continued to build the orchestra's repertoire by arranging close to twenty songs. Kulycky's style added a new flavour to Trembita's music. The trip to Ellenville during Labour Day became a bi-annual tradition and remains one of the most popular performances on the Trembita calendar. Under Kulycky, Trembita won awards as the top performing group at the Labour Day festival in Ellenville, New York in 1979 and 1980.

By 1985, Kulycky had lifted Trembita to a higher musical level. It was time for him to move on. He stepped aside from his position that year.

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Rostyslav Kulish, "Encore" (1985-1988)

In 1985 Yourko Kulycky's time as conductor came to an end. New players entered the band as older players left. Rostyslav Kulish returned as Trembita's conductor and guided the band to the most celebrated period in its history. Kulish continued to write new arrangements for the orchestra. Because the band had significantly improved by this period, Kulish was able to arrange more interesting music than ever before. His medleys of Ukrainian marches were particular favorites among band members then as they are now.

Preparations were beginning for the monumental worldwide celebration of 1000 years of Christianity in Ukraine, which was to take place in 1988. The UYA organized a world gathering of over 400 of its members in Rome, Italy. Trembita was to take part. Kulish began preparing the band for the trip by adding some marches and religious songs to the repertoire. Practices were increased to three times per week in order to tighten the sound of the orchestra. Gregory Shwec, a trumpet player, was instrumental in leading Trembita's end of organizing the trip. Performances in Montreal and Ottawa commemorating the anniversary led the way to the trip to Europe. Trembita sent 50 well-prepared players overseas. There was, however, one sad note. As the trip approached, Kulish grew weaker from the cancer that had stricken him. It became clear that he would not be able to go. Shortly before the band was to leave, Kulish passed away at the age of 71.

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Andrij Harasymowycz (1988-1995)

Trembita, 1988 Andrij Harasymowycz, a high school music teacher, was called upon to take over as Trembita's third conductor. He did a suberb job of stepping in such a short time prior to departure and leading the band throughout the biggest trip of its history. The quality of the orchestra was never finer than in 1988. The tour started in Paris and Trembita played for the first time outside North America. The orchestra played on several occasions in France and Germany before joining the UYA delegation in Italy. This portion of the trip was highlighted by a special mass performed by Pope John Paul II, at which Trembita played two religious hymns. The travelling and close teamwork brought the group closer together than ever before. After a tiring but extremely enjoyable three weeks in Europe, Trembita returned to Montreal.

The orchestra remained on a high musical level for a few years after its triumphant return. Under Andrij Harasymowycz, the band continued carrying out its role within the Montreal community. It was also in this era that Trembita's annual dance (zabava), its main fundraiser, became extremely popular. This November event continues to attract young party goers from Ontario and the northern United States in large numbers. The event's success is due to the work of Trembita's committee, led by Philip Borodailuk and later by Taras Poprawa. In 1993, the orchestra held a banquet commemorating the 25th anniversary of the band, on the evening of the zabava. Trembita 1993, 25th Anniversary edition Longtime Trembita members were honoured for their years of dedication to the band. Myron Kocur, band supervisor, and Philip Borodailuk, player since the very first year, were the two most noted honourees of the evening.

In 1995, a significant membership turnover marked the end of another period of Trembita history. Andrij Harasymowycz's time as conductor came to a close after slightly more than seven great years.

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Andrij Figol (1995-1997)

Andrij Figol, longtime Trembita player and committee member, took over as the fourth conductor in 1995. Despite only being conductor for three years, this period was not without great memories. Figol's enthusiastic personality mirrored the energetic character of the band itself. The orchestra continued to represent the Ukrainian Youth Association at various events in and around Montreal. This period's highlight, however, was Trembita's performance in Toronto in November of 1996 for the UYA's World Congress. An animated performance earned rave reviews from those who were present. Most memorable was Father Witt's moving sopilka (recorder) solo in Holubivna and Trembita's vibrant rendition of the Muppet Show Theme, as the encore performance of a very successful and fun show. The outgoing head of the UYA Central Board of Directors made a special visit to the orchestra's bus before it departed to Montreal to personally thank the band mentioning that it was clearly the crowd favorite of all the concert performers that day.

Shortly after the trip to Toronto, Andrij Figol announced that he was leaving Montreal to study at the Ukrainian seminary in Ottawa.

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Svitlana Kolesnyk-Kowal (1997-2002)

Svitlana Kolesnyk-Kowal succeded Figol to become the fifth condutor in Trembita's history. Her musical experience included being conductor of Dudaryk young boys choir in Lviv. When arriving to Montreal she became the conductor of the UYA's new choir Vidlunya.

Trembita 2000, Ellenville, NY The young band membership that she took over eventually molded into a solid core of enthusiastic players. But this took time and remarkable patience by Kowal to accomplish. Trembita never had a younger group of players. One of the early highlights of the Kowal era was the 1998 zabava. A tremendous turnout, with people packing the UYA's hall, made it one of the most memorable zabavas in the Montreal branch's history. Taras Poprawa along Petro Mytko and Bohdan Klymczuk and a new group of members organized the event, solidifying it as one of the premier zabava's on the entire north-east region's calendar.

Kowal's patience and teaching ability was key in improving the band. Once again, it was a major trip overseas that would boost the quality of Trembita. In 2001, the UYA organized a worldwide gathering in which Trembita participated. This time, it took place in Ukraine for the tenth anniversary of the nation's independence. Petro Mytko, head of the Trembita organizing committee, along with Bohdan Klymczuk and the rest of Trembita's young committee, worked extremely hard to build up the band and prepare it for the trip. The orchestra arrived in Lviv for the start of the organized portion of the trip on August 16th. The highlights of the trip included a spontaneous performance in the village of Zazdristch when Trembita was greeted by scores of young children waving flags and wearing traditional Ukrainian dress. Trembita played for the entire village and brought some joy and festivity to the small and remote town. On the way to Kyiv, Trembita stopped in Kaniv, site of Taras Shevchenko's grave. The band played Reve ta Stohne, a Shevchenko piece, to honour the famous nationalist poet.

Trembita returned from Ukraine in splendid form. The intense preparations for the trip made Trembita a more solid orchestra. Trembita returned to Montreal's St.Patrick's Day parade, the longest running parade of its kind in North America, in 2002 for the first time in twelve years. The extremely successful performance was a sign that the group of players Kowal inherited had gained confidence and reached a new level musical quality.

In October of 2002, Kowal conducted her last Trembita concert. She continues to conduct Vidlunya, the UYA's choir in Montreal and began pursuing a Doctorate in music at McGill University.

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Moeen Hosain (2002-present)

Moeen Hosain became Trembita's sixth and first non-Ukrainian conductor in October of 2002. He graduated with a degree in music from McGill University and is constantly in touch with Montreal's music scene. He assisted Svitlana Kolesnyk-Kowal in fine-tuning Trembita during the preparations for the trip to Ukraine in 2001, conducting some practices just prior to the trip. His musical expertise, knowledge of the musical community and successful record with marching bands and drum corps convinced the Trembita committee that he would be the right person to succeed her.

Hosain's first performance with Trembita took place at the zabava in November 2002, just one week after his first rehearsal with the band. Since he became conductor, the committee has worked hard on organizing a busy calendar for the upcoming year. His knowledge of instruments, music and administration will help Trembita modernize and take part in larger scale events. In his short time as conductor, Hosain has already shown impressive results in improving the band and is consistently given compliments at each performance. The future looks bright for Trembita as new performances in different places will fill Trembita's calendar in 2003.

In this 35th anniversary year of Trembita, it is comforting to see that throughout such a long, eventful, turbulent but extremely successful history, the orchestra continues to strive toward the mission put forth by its founders. The faces and the environment of the orchestra have changed enormously since 1968, but today's group, like every other ahead of it, remains committed to the idea expressed by its first conductor, Rostyslav Kulish:

"The principal goal of this band is not to produce musicians, but through their performances to provide our youth with an opportunity to do something as a group of which they can be very proud."

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