PRAIRIE NIGHTS AND PEACOCK FEATHERS by Winnipeg-based PARIS TO KYIV features soundscapes that range from spare two-part vocal harmonies to lush ensemble arrangements. Like the title suggests, this is timeless music that
spans the centuries and evokes distant places. Singer Alexis Kochan collaborates with Julian Kytasty (bandura), Richard Moody (viola), Martin Colledge (Celtic-instruments)
and Nenad Zdjelar (contrabass).
Paris To Kyiv explores the creative possibilities that are found at the interfaces where traditional music meets the modern world and where the global meets the culturally specific. Combining Ukrainian pre-Christian ritual songs, fragments of medieval chant with modern influences, Paris To Kyiv has resurrected and reinterpreted timeless music which spans centuries and evokes distant places.
Singer and composer, Alexis Kochan, is the inspiration and founder of Paris To Kyiv. Born and raised in Winnipeg's North End, and of Ukrainian heritage, Ms. Kochan had grown up listening to and performing the music of her ancestors. She began to realize that there must be an unexplored source of this music, and eventually found in Ukraine these ancient chants, rhythms and emotions that today infuse Paris To Kyiv's contemporary music.
The eventual result was the formation of the ground-breaking project, Paris To Kyiv: six Canadian musicians all from different cultural traditions and with their own distinct musical influences, creating true "world" music with elements of jazz and new music, medieval Slavonic chant, dance tunes recorded from Carpathian fiddlers and blind bandura players, original compositions and ancient ritual songs with roots in the Neolithic.
It is a musical project that has an on-going evolution, open-ended and always searching for new expression of ideas and sound and influences. The music is original and richly atmospheric, conveying audiences and musicians together on a journey, one that goes back in time, cloaked in Eastern European exoticism -- still so mysterious to the western world.
With four recordings and many acclaimed performances at prestigious venues throughout North America and Eastern Europe, Paris To Kyiv has been heralded as one of the most unique ensembles playing today. The result has been the development of a huge following for Ms. Kochan and Paris To Kyiv in Canada and beyond, with equally notable record sales, especially for an independently distributed artist.
Prairie Nights and Peacock Feathers was nominated in 2001 for Outstanding Roots Recording by the Prairie Music Alliance.
Paris To Kyiv features Julian Kytasty, one of today's premier bandura players. His mastery of time-honoured folk styles is a foundation for his original arrangements and compositions. Also featured is violist and singer songwriter Richard Moody. The group has also collaborated with players like Iranian percussion virtuoso, Pejman Haddadi, new music percussionist John Wyre, Quebec Celtic group Rosheen, and - in the acclaimed program "Nightsongs From a Neighbouring Village" - with post-klezmer supergroup, Brave Old World.
Past concerts include Ukraina-Polska-Europa presented by Osrodek Praktyk Teatralnych Gardzienice, Poland, Teatr Maly in Warsaw, Teatr Polski in Wroclaw, Theatre Dakh in Kyiv, Ukraine, the Rolston Recital Hall at Canada's Banff Centre for the Arts, the World Music Institute in New York City, Toronto's Small World series at the du Maurier Theatre Centre, the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre and the Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, California, and the Pantages Playhouse in Winnipeg.
Paris To Kyiv has been recorded for broadcast by the CBC and Radio Canada as well as WNYC in New York City, and filmed a segment for CBC's national television series, Opening Night.
"marked by the enchanting and ethereal voice of Alexis Kochan, Prairie Nights is a work of stellar musicianship and spirited playing...passionate and full of fire."
Dirty Linen #102
" this is world music in the widest sense of the word"
"... such a fascinating beauty ..."
Marc Nolis - Rootstown Music - March 13, 2001
"Forget the rules. Abandon all preconceptions. This is familiar music, and yet something you have never heard before. It is as comforting and beautiful as your mama's or baba's soft, all-encompassing embrace when you were three, and yet it is also jazzy, innovative, and not at all traditional... This is the group that has ignited interest in Ukrainian music in the mainstream and has excited young Ukrainians who are hearing it not in church halls, but "out there" on the radio and at commercial concert venues... there is intensity in the beauty of the melodies, the virtuosity of the singing and the playing, and in the simple-yet-intricate arrangements. If you pay attention to the details, their works are richly rewarding, and each time you hear a song, you find another facet to delight in and admire.
In performance, Paris to Kyiv never play a song the same way twice, because these virtuosos perform without sheet music-the arrangments memorized, then improvised upon...
Kochan told me: "This is soul music at its most basic, this is our soul music which we must proudly share with the rest of the world."
Orysia Paszczak Tracz Zdorov! #15 - Summer 2000