The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia presents the hypnotic vocals and tight-knit instrumentation of DakhaBrakha on October 19, 2019 at 8pm in the Chan Shun Concert Hall. Comprised of musicians Marko Halanevych, Iryna Kovalenko, Olena Tsybulska, and Nina Garenetska, the group has become widely known for their unexpected, ultra-distinct combination of traditional Ukrainian lyrics and melodies, spliced with boisterous, experimental rhythms. “The group mixes everything from punk-pop to traditional Ukrainian songs in cool yet beguiling textures, often with the close harmonies usually associated with Balkan music. But it’s really the live shows that take DakhaBrakha beyond mere curiosity to utter brilliance.” - NPR.
DakhaBrakha originated in 2004 as the musical group for the avant-garde Dakh Center of Contemporary Art, a theatre led by director Vladyslav Troitskyi that acted as a central hub for the arts underground in Kiev. The group’s name means “give/take” in Ukrainian, and was formed out of Troitskyi’s desire to create something radically different from the typical, nostalgia-laden folk aesthetic that was prevalent at the time. Rooted in the folklore of their country, for more than 15 years the band has sought stories and song inspiration from local elders, re-invigorating oral traditions through new and utterly inventive music that has reached the consciousness of both a younger generation of Ukrainians as well as a new wave of discerning international audiences.
Finding inspiration in everything from Steve Reich to Balkan wedding songs to digeridoos, DakhaBrakha’s sonic universe is complex while also conveying an intimacy and seamlessness, fusing trance-like beats with serpentine melodies into cohesive tracks that sound meant-to-be. As evidenced by arresting imagery and music videos, colourful stage elements, and ornate costumes, the visual aesthetic of the group reflects their strong theatrical and design background. The triple harmonies of Iryna Kovalenko, Olena Tsybulska and Nina Garenetska are complemented by rousing vocals of Marko Halanevych on all of their six albums, each musician also mastering an array of instruments from around the world—largely percussive—including the darbuka, djembe, bass drums, buhay and tabla; the clarinet-like zhaleika; and the garmoshka accordion. Their vast, borderless musical exploration incorporates African, Asian, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern influences.
DakhaBrakha’s latest album, The Road (2016), was a response to political turmoil in the Ukraine and was dedicated “to those who gave their lives for our freedom, who continue to stand over its guard.” Its lyrics are sourced from citizens, often elderly, in villages throughout the country, including Halanevych’s grandmother. The themes of their words are ritualistic and may reference spring, harvest gathering, weddings, or funerals. “We almost always use folk lyrics and never change the words in songs,” said Halanevych in 2017, “most of them are from pre-Christian times and have very powerful energy... What else is definitely important for us is that we used songs from territory that is occupied right now. It is our way to support those people who still live there.”
In 2010, DakhaBrakha won the prestigious Grand Prix prize named after composer Sergey Kuryokhin, annually awarded in the field of contemporary art. In 2014, the group was named Best Breakout at Bonnaroo by Rolling Stone. In 2016, they were commissioned by Ukraine’s national film archive to create a live score for Alexander’s Dovzhenko’s classic and controversial 1930 silent film Earth, which has been performed widely and remains an important part of the band’s repertoire.
Chan Centre Connects Events (chancentre.com/connects)
Programmed in conjunction with Chan Centre performances, exploring the role of arts and artists in society.
• Borscht Workshop with Ukrainian Folk Songs — Friday October 18, 7pm at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre (805 East Pender St). The artists of DakhaBrakha host an evening of Ukrainian folk songs and delicious borscht. SOLD OUT.
• Pre-show Talk with Aliya Griffin – Saturday October 19, 7:15pm in the Royal Bank Cinema at the Chan Centre. Ukrainian-Canadian director, creator, performer, and facilitator Aliya Griffin discusses the use of slavic folktales as a source of contemporary artistic inspiration.
Chan Centre Presents DakhaBrakha
Date: Saturday October 19, 2019 at 8pm
Ticket Prices: From $46
Address: Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
University of British Columbia
6265 Crescent Road
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Box Office: 604-822-2697 / chancentre.com
Open Tue–Sat, 12pm–5pm
Photo courtesy of the artist
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