The First Ukrainian Choir in Cork aims to be a ‘little homeland’ for the refugee community living here and to help with integration with the Irish through song.
At a Church of Ireland center in Ballincollig, County Cork, the county’s first Ukrainian choir recently began to meet.
“The choir is a small homeland for Ukrainians in Ireland where they can feel at home for a moment, socialize, get psychological support, friendly advice and forget about their difficulties for a while,” said Svetlana Deikun, choirmaster and music teacher by trade and choir director.
Last month, Ms Deikun performed a traditional Ukrainian song and dance with her daughter at the Mayor of Cork’s Community Heritage Concert at Cork City Hall, which received a long standing ovation.
“My old dream of performing the song Kalyna with an orchestra has come true,” she said.
“It’s good that even without a translation, this song has touched the hearts of the Irish. The language of art unites the spirit of freedom and independence across the world.”
It is “very difficult for [Ukrainians] fit in,” said Victoria Tymoshchuk, who co-founded the choir. “They stay in their accommodation for a long time.”
It’s particularly difficult when many don’t speak English and are therefore unable to work, she said.
“If you don’t speak English, it’s hard to talk about your culture,” she said, explaining that music can transcend language barriers.
“Music speaks one language, that of music and soul.”
Their hope is that the choir can be a focal point for Ukrainians to socialize and introduce their culture to the people of Ireland.”
The Together-Razem Hub for Ukrainians in Blackpool, Co Cork, has helped spread the word to the Ukrainian community and over the past few weeks the band have started practicing traditional Ukrainian songs.
“All generations of Ukrainians love them, they are the songs of our ancestors and we are happy that these songs are still alive,” Ms. Deikun said, adding that the songs resonate strongly in every family.
The choir hope to perform and collaborate with Irish musicians at festivals and events in the coming months and have already planned to perform at a Christmas concert in Cork.
The choir practices every Saturday between 3pm and 5pm at St Peter’s Parish Centre, Church Hill, Carrigrohane.