Yuriy Fedynsky builds, plays, and teaches traditional musical instruments. With a background in classical piano, living in North Carolina he heard his grandmother and mother speak Ukrainian, and felt inspired to learn the language and to travel to Ukraine to reconnect with the family’s history. There he learned about traditional instruments like the torban, kobza, and bandura, played with techniques and repertoires in danger of being forgotten entirely. He began searching out any surviving examples of these instruments as they existed a century ago, before the development of factory production, steel strings, and modern music styles. He apprenticed as an instrument maker, and began collaborating with traditional musicians. Now in Ukraine he teaches instrument making and music, and researches traditional songs and styles of playing. Along the way he has created a new life as what he calls a repatriot. It’s someone who has not bid farewell to America, but who has created a new family and settled roots in the original homeland — rebuilding a small house, setting up the workshop, and now raising food on their farm.
In this video clip he talks about his work, and with Mrs. Fedynsky performs an akathist-style hymn “Iисусе Прекрасный,” or Jesus Most Beautiful (The words are from Psalm 4 by Dmitrii of Rostov):
Fedynskij Music Workshop in Kriachkivka · Ukraїner
This autumn Yuriy has been touring across America with a sample of all three instruments, playing at small church and home concerts free of charge, supported and promoted by spontaneous American hospitality as he takes himself from town to town. At a cozy meeting for local Ukrainian speakers, he demonstrated a full range of styles and songs, and explained the instruments’ acoustic properties, historical connections, and place in Ukrainian society. We in the audience were spellbound at his celestial music, soaring vocals, cultural knowledge, and story telling. The one-hour concert ran over two and a half hours; Yuriy was all delighted sweetness and good humor as we badgered him for more songs, bombarded him with questions, snapped up his recorded CDs, and tried playing the instruments ourselves. (One knowledgeable audience member even brought his own bandura, and the two performed a lovely spontaneous duet.) Listeners came away discussing their eagerness to follow his work on Facebook, and watch for his next tour.
What a blessing! We experienced a radiant artist — someone alight with purpose in his faith in God and service to his family, to his adopted village, to Ukrainian culture, and to his students from around the world. His vision, and his parting wish for us, was that we would go and be part of this worldwide movement: people from any country who resurrect traditional cultures and handwork to connect with and heal their own communities.