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Lastiwka Ukrainian Choir and Orchestra of Saskatoon was established in 1983 under founding conductor and artistic director Larry Klopoushak. Lastiwka’s mandate is to promote Ukrainian liturgical, sacred, and folk music through the choral experience and through the use of traditional Ukrainian instruments. Lastiwka has toured extensively across western Canada and to Minneapolis, Minnesota, as well as to Toronto and Hamilton. The ensemble has performed many concerts throughout Saskatchewan and many liturgy and concert combinations. In 1986, Lastiwka was invited to perform for ten days at the Saskatchewan Pavilion as well as at the prestigious Xerox International Theatre at Expo '86 in Vancouver. The choir mounted a full Ukrainian Christmas Concert with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra in 2014.

Lastiwka has performed two major concert tours in Ukraine, joined by the Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble, in 2003 (Echoes of the Soul) and in 2013 (Legacy). The group was privileged to do several workshops in Ukraine with major ensembles such as the Lviv Chamber Choir, Theatre Gerdan (formerly Holos), the Cherkassy Folk Ensemble and the renowned Veryovka Ukrainian Choir and Dance Ensemble. The wonderful three-hour workshop with Veryovka culminated in a friendly exchange of many of versions of Многая Літа (Many Years).

Lastiwka is unique in Canada as the first ensemble to combine with dancers and live orchestra to perform vocal-choreographic compositions in the style of the Veryovka, Bukovynian, Cherkassy and Volyn Ensembles, and is the inspiration for other Canadian groups to do the same. Lastiwka has promoted the talents of Ukrainian Canadian composer Oleksa Lozowchuk by commissioning and performing two works - the sacred work Polyelei for choir, and the vocal-choreographic work Kalyno Malyno, commissioned for Lastiwka’s 25th Anniversary.

Artistic director and conductor Larry Klopoushak studied vocal performance and conducting at the University of Saskatoon. He has performed lead roles in major operatic, musical theatre, and choral works and studied under the baton of many noted conductors, among them Elmer Eisler, Jon Washburn, and John Aldis. Walter Klymkiw of the Winnipeg Koshetz Choir and Maestro Anatolij Avdievs’ky of the Veryovka Ukrainian Folk Choir were two of his major influences in the study of Ukrainian choral music. Larry worked with Klymkiw and Avdievs’ky many times in Winnipeg, and Avdievs’ky came to Saskatoon to do a workshop with Lastiwka. In turn, Larry and Lastiwka have mentored many choir members in furthering their Ukrainian musical activities.

Larry received the Rotary Club Medal for contributions to choral music and multi-culturalism, and the Saskatchewan Choral Federation Pro Musica Award for contributions to choral music in Saskatchewan. He was honoured to receive the Konstantin Pihrov Medal for Excellence In and the Preservation of the Choral Arts from Maestro Avdievs’ky in Ukraine, only the fifth time this medal has been awarded.

Lastiwka has performed at Ukrainian festivals and at many community events in Saskatoon, has toured across Western Canada, and in 2015 performed the full grandstand show with the Pavlychenko Dancers, before 10,000 people at the Ukrainian National Festival in Dauphin.

Lastiwka has produced four audio recordings, three of folk music and one of Christmas and New Year's music: Lastiwka, На Святий Вечір (On Christmas Eve), Степом (Across the Steppes) and Любов і Журба (Love and Sorrow). Two full length DVDs of Lastiwka’s joint performances with Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble are entitled Echoes of the Soul (2003) and Спадщина / Legacy (2013), recordings of the shows for their two tours of Ukraine.

Lastiwka is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year and having performed several times at the Vegreville Pysanka Festival, is delighted to return to perform once again.

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