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KS 2019 Music STAFF

Kobzarska Sich is sponsored by the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus. Celebrating their 100th Anniversary this year, the UBC provides artistic and logistical support for Kobzarska Sich. The realization of our shared vision is led by dedicated Administrative and Musical staffs.

The KS 2019 Musical Staff is led by two incredible artists, Julian Kytasty and Oleh Mahlay.


Julian Kytasty grew up within a strong tradition of family music-making. He is a third generation bandurist following in the footsteps of his father Petro and grandfather Ivan Kytasty. He has directed bandura ensembles that have had an enduring impact on the bandura in North America: the New York School of Bandura and Homin Stepiv Ensemble, Experimental Bandura Trio and collaborated with Alexis Kochan and Paris to Kyiv. He has worked frequently with Yara Arts Group creating and performing music for theatre pieces, poetry performances, and festivals. His work on Yara’s 1917-2017 Tychyna, Zhadan, and the Dogs earned him a NY Innovative Theater award for best original score.

He was involved with Kobzarska Sich since its inception in 1979, and served as music director almost every year from 1990-2007. He continues to teach bandura to a new generation of students in North America and Ukraine, to record,  to compose and arrange music for bandura, and to engage in collaborative projects. In 2018 he became the Music Director of the Canadian Bandurist Capella.


Julian Kytasty


Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1969 to Ukrainian immigrants, Oleh Mahlay began to study the piano at the age of five. He studied violin, music theory and form at the Cleveland Music School Settlement where he received scholarships for his studies. Oleh also studied piano with Dr. George Cherry of Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music. His violin teachers included Elmer Seltzer of the Cleveland Orchestra and Jeannette Drinkold-Meyer, a student of renowned violinist Josef Gingold.

Beginning in his early teens, Oleh earned outstanding marks at various competitions on both the violin and the piano. At the 1986 Baldwin Wallace Conservatory Summer Music Clinic in Berea, Ohio, he won the piano competition, performing Mozart's Piano Concerto in G Major, K. 453 with orchestra, and later that year, Beethoven's Piano Concert No. 1 in C Major. He also played in various youth orchestra at the Baldwin Wallace Preparatory Department, and in 1987 was honored as the Outstanding Preparatory Student of the Year. That same year he was the piano soloist in Beethoven's Choral Fantasy with the Parma Symphony Orchestra.

Oleh received a bachelor of arts in music history and literature from Case Western Reserve University. He studied voice and piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He served as the concertmaster of the University Circle Chamber Orchestra for four years. During his undergraduate studies, the university awarded him the Kennedy Prize for Creative Achievement in Music, and the Charles E. Clemens Prize for Talent and Accomplishment in Music. He is also a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda music honorary society at C.I.M. and C.W.R.U. Mr. Mahlay was a magna cum laude and phi beta kappa graduate.

Oleh is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Taras Shevchenko Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America.


Oleh Mahlay


Nadia Tarnawsky has recently returned to the United States after completing a year of research, study and teaching in Ukraine as a recipient of a Fulbright Award. 

She has been studying Eastern European singing techniques for nearly three decades and has taught Ukrainian village style singing in workshops for the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York, the Kitka Women's Ensemble, Village Harmony, and Dunava among others.

In 2011 she received a Traditional Arts Fellowship from Artist Trust and an Artist Support Residency from Jack Straw Productions. Nadia sang with Ensemble Hilka of New York in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Chornobyl disaster in Ukraine.  A recording of this repertoire was released on the Smithsonian Folkways label.  She is also a member of Apollo’s Fire, Cappella Romana and Quire Cleveland.


Nadia TarnaWSky


Andrij Birko is the Concertmaster of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus. He began playing the bandura at summer camps in London, Ontario in the early 1980's and quickly became smitten with the instrument. At age 15, he was made an instructor and continued to teach bandura at these camps and additionally learned the Kharkiv technique of play. Andrij continues to teach bandura at summer camps to this day.

At the age of 16, Andrij was accepted as a candidate in the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus and with the ensemble toured North America and was a participant in the Chours's tours of Ukraine in 1991, 1994, 2001, and the Centennial Tour in 2018.

In addition to being a bandura player, Andrij is one of the few people in the world who is a maker of banduras. He completed his first bandura in 1997 and is currently working on the next generation of instruments of his own design using modern techniques such as CAD design and CNC manufacturing.


Andrij birko


Mykola Deychakiwsky was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1959.  He studied bandura with Hryhory Kytasty starting in 1972 and performed with the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus from 1976-1991.  During this time he was an instructor and music director of numerous bandura camps and courses throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, and gave private and group lessons to young bandurists in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and New York.  He also was a member of the Homin Stepiv bandura ensemble and Promin vocal ensemble in New York City in the 1980s. 


In 1988 Mykola completed a bachelor’s degree in music theory at Baldwin Wallace College, and in 1990, a master’s degree in choral conducting at Kent State University. During the 1990's Mykola moved to Kyiv for nine years and then Prague for three years. Since 2003 he has been living in Brighton, Michigan with his wife and three children. 


He renewed his bandura activities as an instructor and conductor at the Bobriwka Bandura Camp 2012-2017 and 2019, and men’s ensemble and choral workshop director at Kobzarska Sich in 2016 and 2017, respectively.  He also became an instructor of the Detroit School of Bandura, and in 2017 resumed performing with the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus. Mykola has written numerous arrangements and compositions for bandura ensembles.


Nick deychakiwsky


Bandurist Myhas Kostowskyj returns to Kobzarska Sich after serving as a bandura instructor in 2018. Myhas, a member of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America, originally hails from Toronto but currently resides in California. He is a frequent solo performer throughout venues in Northern California presenting the bandura to a diverse audience by featuring the bandura in a contemporary musical setting. Along with serving as a core bandura instructor, Mr. Kostowskyj will teach the elective “Solo Contemporary Rhythm Bandura.”


myhaylo kostowskyj


Born in Ukraine in 1981, bandurist Ivan Shmilo has performed on the bandura throughout Europe and America. He is a graduate of the Barvinsky Music Collegium in Drohobych and earned his masters degree at the Ivan Franko Pedagogical University in Drohobych. He plays with the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America and currently lives in Chicago. He teaches bandura to young students in Chicago.


Ivan shmilo


Oleh studied bandura with Professor Vasily Herasymenko. Proficient in two different techniques of playing bandura - “Kyiv” and “Kharkiv” style. First Prize laureate of various international and all-Ukrainian competitions.


Oleh has collaborated with such chamber and symphony orchestras as Lviv Virtuosos, The Academy, Kyiv Kamerata, the Chamber Orchestra of the Odesa Philharmonic, Zaporizhia Academic Symphony Orchestra, Zielona Góra Philharmonic Orchestra (Poland), Łódź Symphony Orchestra (Poland) and has represented Ukraine at numerous international festivals and at many foreign tours in Europe and North America.


Sozansky's creative collaboration with the bandurist Taras Lazurkevych continues from 2004 through today; the two created the Bandura Dialogue duo. As a part of the duo, he received the award and title “Best Musician of the Year” (Lviv, 2002). In 2010, the duo was the winner of the S. Lyudkevych regional prize “The Glory of Lviv”. In 2008, by  decree of President Yushchenko, he was awarded the title of Honored Artist of Ukraine.


Since 2000, Sozansky has taught at the Department of Folk Instruments at the Lviv Secondary Specialized Music Boarding School named after Solomiya Krushelnytska. Since 2009, he also serves as the Deputy Director of methodological work and international perspectives of the Krushelnytska Music School.


He has given numerous concerts, lectures, and master classes for diaspora bandura players (U.S., Canada, Poland) since 1995.


His repertoire includes Ukrainian historical dumas, folk songs, instrumental works with a classic sound but infused with new breath. Oleh's performances are universal: he not only sings accompanied by bandura, but plays solo with a symphony orchestra. His work serves as a model of the creative approach that mixes the old into the new.



Oleh Sozansky

Natalia Mahlay.jpg

Natalia B. Mahlay is the founding and current artistic director of the Zorya Ukrainian Female Vocal Ensemble of Cleveland, Ohio. Ms. Mahlay previously taught bandura at the ODUM Bandura Camp in London, Ontario as well as at Kobzarska Sich, with many years leading the Kobzarska Sich Female Bandura Ensemble. Natalia currently teaches at the Hryhory Kytasty School of Bandura in Cleveland, Ohio and sang with the trio Ridna Dusha (Native Soul) which was born at Kobzarska Sich.


Natalia will be serving as a vocal coach for both the bandura camp and choral workshop, as well as leading chamber groups.


Natalia mahlay


Jurij has worked to resurrect the Ukrainian torban, kobza, and bandura by researching their construction from a handful of surviving instruments in Ukrainian museums, and mastering the techniques required to make and play new instruments. He is one of several makers who create exclusive and professional examples of these instruments, and the only player who regularly performs on all three. Originally from North Carolina, Jurij moved to Ukraine and now teaches the construction and playing of these traditional instruments in a small Ukrainian village in the Poltava Region.


Jurij fedynsky


Christina has been attending Kobzarska Sich since 2004 as a camper, counselor, and bandura instructor. She has been singing and playing the bandura since age 10. Chrystia has  taught private bandura lessons Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and at ODUM’s Bandura Camp in London, Ontario. This fall, she will be attending the Pennsylvania State University to pursue a doctorate degree in Clinical Child Psychology.


She is a member of the Women's Bandura Ensemble of North America and has sung with Zorya Ukrainian Female Vocal Ensemble in Cleveland, Ohio. 


Christina hlutkowsky


Since the age of 7, Kalyna has taken piano, bandura and voice lessons, and has been performing in the Tri-state Area including Ukrainian festivals and churches. She frequently performs bandura duets with her sister, Uliana Leshchuk. Kalyna has been a participant at both Kobzarska Sich Bandura Camp and Bandura at Bobriwka. 

Kalyna is a member of the Women's Bandura Ensemble of North America and of the women’s choir at Fordham University.


Kalyna Leshchuk





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