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 The first Kobzarska Sich in 1979 

The History of
kobzarska sich

 Hryhory Kytasty at camp. 


 "Hero of Ukraine" Medal

 awarded to Kobzarska Sich 

 founder Hryhory Kytasty.  

Kobzarska Sich was established in 1979 by legendary bandurist and composer Hryhory Kytasty, the long-standing conductor of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus and inspiration to generations of bandura enthusiasts.

After World War II, members of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus migrated from Ukraine to the United States, and settled in Detroit, Michigan. One of these bandurists was Hryhory Kytasty—bandura virtuoso, musicologist, teacher, composer, conductor of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus (1967-1984). Kytasty was awarded the title of “Hero of Ukraine” posthumously by Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko in 2008.


A role model and inspiration to many young bandurists, Kytasty was instrumental in reawakening popularity and growth of the bandura tradition and art form.

Interest in the bandura thrived during the 1960s and 1970s. Bandura workshops and seminars were frequently held all over North America, often sponsored by the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus and the Society of Ukrainian Bandurists, and led by its members. While living and working in Cleveland, Ohio, Kytasty, as well as some of his students and protégées, sought a location to start a summer bandura camp. Ihor Mahlay, of Parma, Ohio, suggested All Saints Camp in Emlenton, Pennsylvania—a campground purchased by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA only a year prior. In the early spring of 1979, Hryhory Kytasty, Victor Kytasty, Julian Kytasty, and Ihor Mahlay visited the 90-acre campground nestled on the scenic Allegheny River, and immediately knew their vision would come to fruition on those grounds. August of 1979 was the first Kobzarska Sich, a name coined by Hryhory Kytasty. Kytasty became the camp’s first musical director and Ihor Mahlay signed on as the camp’s first administrator. 


 Rehearsals at All Saints Camp in 1980 

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Kobzarska Sich has drawn many seasoned bandurists and other musicians as musical directors, instructors, and counselors. Participants have come from around the world, including North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.


Kobzarska Sich with Eurovision winner Ruslana during a Roadshow at Toronto's Massey Hall in 2015

Over the years, the camp has grown and evolved, adding new programming, such as the Junior Bandura Workshop (a one-week course for young blossoming bandurists ages 8-11), Ukrainian Choral and Folk Singing Workshops (one week programs focused on vocal), and the Ukrainian Sacred Music Workshop (a Ukrainian liturgical choral music workshop).

Every year, a final concert is held for the public, a tradition since the first camp. In recent years, a new tradition has started with the Kobzarska Sich Roadshow, a performance of the ensemble and repertoire for that year in a venue outside of camp.


 Kobzarska Sich at the renowned

 Old Town School of Folk Music in

 Chicago during a 2017 Roadshow.  

In 2029, Kobzarska Sich will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Hryhory Kytasty had a dream to have a place where the bandura, this unique Ukrainian art form, could be taught and nurtured, where the songs of the kobzars echo through the hills of the Allegheny mountains. Today that dream continues to live on, through the generations of bandurists that have come through Kobzarska Sich. To stay in the loop with our 50th celebration, join our alumni network here. 

"You are not just bandurists. You are the flowers of Ukraine… the kobzars, who will carry our song, our dumy, into the world.”

-The Ukrainian Weekly, June 1991 

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