Kolyada: Winter Songs from the Black Sea at Cedar Cultural Center


To celebrate the traditional music of countries surrounding the black sea, artists with roots in those countries gathered to combine their musical talents. This included the playing of accordions, string instruments, choirs, and percussionists.

The night began with a solo piece played on the toaca. The toaca is a traditional percussion instrument that consists of a wooden plank suspended by rope being hit by hollowed hammers. It was a captivating performance and a great way to begin the night. As the set came to an end, a woman’s choir emerged from the back of the venue and slowly made their way on stage, singing as they went. This ended up being the pattern for the evening – as one set draws to an end, another begins. There was not a moment without music.

The intent of the performance order was to play through the seasonal passage of darkness to light. The evening began with a reflection on Darkness. The music had a more ambient slower draw to it. As the set progressed, we moved into the dawn and finally, we ended with a return of light. As we reached the final third of the set the music had moved away from the reflective sounds of darkness and introduced a reflection of party and festivities which included dancing and fast-paced music.

The whole experience served as a strong reflection of life not only in these originating countries but also of life here in Minnesota. While we don’t experience quite the extremes as those plays there certainly is a strong cycle of darkness to light during our winter months. It helped to see the playout of the full cycle and the celebrations which naturally occur post-winter. Only three or four months to go.