Our patron

Hryhory Kytasty


Hryhory Trohymovych Kytasty, bandurist, composer and conductor, was born
17th January, 1907 in the town of Kobelaiky, Poltav province. He studied at the Poltava Music College (1927-30) and the Lysenko Music and Drama Institute in Kyiv (1930-35), under such prominant Ukrainian composers and musicologists as M. Hrinchenko, L. Revutsky. and V. Kosenko.

Kytasty was a member of the State Bandurist Chorus of the Ukrainian SSR from 1935, serving as concertmaster and assistant director (from 1937). In July 1941, while on a concert tour of Donetsk, the State Bandura Chorus was disbanned and it members drafted into the Red Army. Kytasty was drafted, however did not paricipate in the conflict. He returned to Kyiv, where Hryhory Nazarenko had re-established the Bandura Chorus from members of the chorus. In time Kytasty became the director of the Ukrainian Bandura Chorus now under the patronage of noted Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, This group was for a time placed in a German internment camp in Hamburg, but was subsequently allowed to tour Ukrainian Ostarbeiter camps in Western Europe. A displaced person after the war, Kytasty performed as a soloist, and with the Bandura Chorus throughout Western Europe.

After the war Kytasty emigrated to the United States and in 1949 and settled in Detroit with other members of the ensemble. He served as conductor and director of the Chorus to 1954, in 1958-59 and from 1967 to his death. Kytasty wrote many original works and arrangements of folk songs for choir with bandura accompaniment, solo bandura, choir and piano, and bandura orchestra. He set the works of various Ukrainian poets to music, including Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Bahrany, 0leksander Oles, Boris Oleksandriv, and Vasyl Symonenko. Some of his compositions have become standard repertoire of almost every bandura ensemble in the West, especially the haunting instrumental piece "Echo of the Steppes". Kytasty was a tireless propagator of the bandura art. He taught numerous courses and seminars on the bandura and influenced an entire generation of bandurists in North America.

Recently, a new generation of young bandura enthusiasts has emerged in North America. This group of Ukrainian youth is centered around the Greater Toronto area, but also has members in Manitoba, Quebec, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Michigan and Wisconsin. As members of the Bandura Chorus named in memory of Hryhory Kytasty, they are most honoured and proud to preserve and promote the playing of the bandura as a reflection of the Ukrainian arts as intended by their patron, Hryhory Kytasty.