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Singer Unearths Spirit of Region, People

By David Steinberg
Journal Staff Writer
      Think of folk singer Mariana Sadovska as a miner. The ore Sadovska mines is the traditional folk music embedded in her native Ukraine.
       She finds this rich ore in small towns where old anonymous women still sing lullabies, laments and wedding songs in their kitchens and in public with their friends.
       Sadovska has widened her interest to traditional music of the Carpathian Mountain region of Eastern Europe, encompassing Ukraine, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
       Though far from home, the region, especially Ukraine, remains in her thoughts.
       Sadovska is concluding nine months in the United States working under a Fulbright scholarship with a professor at Penn State University. The result of that work is to be an anthology of Ukrainian folk songs.
       “We are preparing a book with text in Ukrainian, English translation, musical notation. It comes mostly from my expeditions and it's for people who want to sing this music though they don't know the language, and it's for Ukrainians who don't know those songs,” she said in a phone interview from New Orleans.
       Sadovska also sees the book as more than a collection of songs. In it, she will describe the people who taught her the songs and their towns.
       Two spinoffs may come from her nine months on the Fulbright.
       One is a plan to use folk songs and her original music based on the poems of Pavlo Tychyna, who wrote in the 1920s. That interest is linked to interviews she made with Ukraine emigres here “who survived the famine and the German invasion (during World War II). Suddenly when you meet these people who survived it becomes much more touching, personal. I feel it more,” Sadovska said.
       Another potential spinoff is from her meeting David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet.
       “Harrington asked if I would compose a piece for them and me. It's a huge challenge. I am very fired up,” Sadovska said.
       When she returns to Cologne, Germany, where she lives, she intends to compose a requiem based on the traditional music of a village in northern Ukraine, not far from Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 accidental explosion of a reactor at a nuclear power plant.
       The village, Sadovska said, was destroyed in the explosion and the residents have moved.
       “But the culture is so connected to the land, to the cemeteries. So it still survives. It's still not destroyed, which is amazing, a miracle,” she said.
       The requiem would mourn the loss, but at the same time would acknowledge that the community “is stronger than death and in the end there must be a new beginning. …”
Mariana Sadovska and Her Band
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 25
       WHERE: Outpost Performance Space, 210 Yale SE
       HOW MUCH: $22 general public, $17 students and Outpost members in advance at the Outpost or by calling 268-0044