It was not an ordinary day in the more than twenty years history of the Lemko Association. On 15 October 2016, the oldest, after the political changes of 1989, Lemko organization in Poland, prepared two events. One of them – XXIV Lemko Cultural Autumn – started in Krasna, Lemkovyna, a village where Ivan Rusenko (1890-1960) was born, as well as Klavdiya Aleksovich (1830-1916) the First Lady of Lemko literature. The second event took place in Chojnów, in exile, at the local Municipal Culture and Leisure Centre. Simultaneously, it was a double jubilee – the 15th anniversary of the founding of “Lastivochka” Lemko Song and Dance Ensemble, celebrated within the 10th edition of Meetings of Three Generations with Lemko Culture.
An event with a decade of tradition, which is nowadays planned long before, emerges from less official meetings – at a table, accompanied by singing and a warm, friendly atmosphere. This gave rise to the event, organized for the tenth time, usually in Przemków, and this time, because of the great jubilee, in Chojnów. The 10th edition of Meetings of Three Generations with Lemko Culture was attended even by Lem.fm radio that not only sponsored the event, but also broadcast the Meetings live globally, via the Internet.
The festival concert on the double jubilee was a well-directed performance. It started from “Lastivochka”’s performance: they entered the stage from two different directions, singing, and passing the somewhat amazed audience. On stage, moderators sitting by a table waited for them. This solution was just positive: into the breaks during which the artists change and the sound guys have to switch their instruments quickly, something else was implemented. Then, the light was thrown on the hosts, the stage changed and the audience had no time to get bored, as their attention was drawn by something else. Inspiration with other events was visible here, for example the “Young Lemkovyna” festival, organized by Ruska Bursa in November 2015. There, the breaks where filled with interviews with the artists. This is all for good, as compared to last year’s edition of the Meetings, a huge progress is visible – dramaturgy and direction of the performance that lasted for 3 hours was interesting and dynamic, which is not always characteristic of such events. It has to be emphasized that the festival concert in Chojnów was a pleasure to the eye, ear and body.
The premises behind this year’s Meetings were interesting. As Yevhen Habura told us after the end of the performances – “we seem to be self-sufficient.” The meaning of the utterance is that the whole concert was to be a journey into Lastivochka’s history, only with its current or former members. Few ensembles may be proud to have so many “alumni” who, when they no longer sing in Lastivochka, perform on world stages in other musical projects, more or less connected to the Rusyn culture. The following artists performed on stage: the leader of a popular rock ensemble “Nadija” from Szprotawa (Shprotava) – Andrzej Kajfasz, a rapper Andrzej Dziamba known from the first Lemko rap band “Bratskład,” Sestry Boczniewicz (the Boczniewicz sisters) who played the violins and sang beautifully as always, they were joined by their cousin in one of the songs, the most famous Lemko artist nowadays – Igor Herbut – a composer, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and leader of the famous worldwide “LemOn” ensemble. When we add the current and the former “Lastivochka” members to this, we can see how many musicians, instrumentalists and vocalists have been associated with “Lastivochka” within the 15 years.
From the radio’s point of view, it is very pleasant to broadcast such events, all the more that radio audience is limited to listening what happens on stage and does not see the performances. Nevertheless, it was an interesting event, both for the people present in the Municipal Culture and Leisure Centre and for those who could not make it to be there, but listened to the broadcast live on Lem.fm radio.
Also, it does your heart good to see that at the double jubilee, there was a lot of authorial music, performed professionally. Світ місячку (Svit misjachku) by Andrzej Kajfasz, violins of Ramona and Natalia Boczniewicz together with their authorial compositions, a wonderful vocal of Igor Herbut in Лемковино, краю рідний (Lemkovyno, krayu ridnyi), or hip-hop by Andrzej Dziamba accompanied by original folk compositon by “Lastivichka” musicians, as well as, frequently used by the Przemków ensemble, repertoire of the famous Lemkovyna form Bilanka, for example a song to the lyrics of Piotr Stefanowski Дротар (Drotar). All of this showed the diversity of Rusyn culture. Although “Lastivochka” itself is a folk ensemble (this year it got CIOFF certificate), it willingly performs new compositions. We want to say thank you for this, as well as other successes, and wish further that great jubilees.