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Ukraine’s oldest a cappella band celebrates 20 years on stage

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Oct. 3, 2012, 3:39 p.m. | Music — by Oksana Faryna

Pikkardiyska Tercia, an a cappella sextet from Lviv, celebrated its 20th anniversary in Palats Ukraina in Kyiv on Sept. 29.
© tercia.com.ua

Oksana Lyachynska

Kyiv Post staff writer

They are charismatic, elegant and true and, if you hear them singing, you will remember the experience forever. Pikkardiyska Tercia, an inimitable band from Lviv, sounds like a small orchestra but in fact its music is performed by six men a cappella. 

Highly professional and innovative, they have been conquering hearts of thousands of fans in Ukraine and abroad for 20 years already. In their repertoire there are over 300 songs in 12 languages, but most of them are in Ukrainian and have deep Ukrainian character. Among their hits are “Starenky tramway” (“The old tram”), “Pustelnyk” (“The hermit”), “Sumna ya bula” (“When I was sad”) and many others.

Apart from drums and percussion the band does not use any musical instruments. They produce all the sounds with a help of their voices and sometimes hands. All musicians have classical education in their background but like to experiment with different music styles, from classical and folk to modern ones.

“If song has a rock-n-roll character I can imitate a guitar,” said Andriy Kapral, band’s tenor and soloist, famous for his improvisation skills. “If song is melodic and calm then I like to make a sound of trumpet. If it’s a tune with jazz mood I can try to reproduce trombone,” said the musician.

Besides unique music there are also two important things Pikkardiyska Tercia is respected for. Unlike many Ukrainian musicians the sextet always performs live music and does not take parts of any political forces during election campaigns. It is Ukrainian politicians and businessmen who feel proud to support the musicians.

The list of people who provided financial or organizational support to prepare for the band’s 20th anniversary concerts in Vinnytsia, Lviv and Kyiv earlier last month included Ihor Tarasiuk, former head of State Management of Affairs (DUSia), Borys Kolesnikov, vice premier minister for infrastructure, Sergiy Tigipko, vice premier minister and minister for social policy, Petro Poroshenko, minister for economic development and trade, and Oleh Bakhmatiuk, owner of agriholding Avangard and a billionaire.

The show thrown by the band in Palats Ukraina in Kyiv on Sept. 29 was attended by 4,000 people. The band impressed its bands by a bright contemporary video part created by Mykhaylo Krupiyevsky. During the concert Pikkardiyska Tercia sang alone and together with popular Ukrainian musicians including Ruslana, winner of 2004 Eurovision song contest.

Famous Ukrainian singer Ruslana was among guest stars who sang with Pikkardiyska Tercia on Sept. 29 anniversary concert in Kyiv (tercia.com.ua).

“I don’t like when you talk about your age, guys,” said Ruslana. “Then everyone knows how old I am as we studied together at Lviv [State Musical College].” The singer dedicated her extravagant hairstyle, a blond bang and dark tail, to the band’s leader Volodymyr Yakymets, known as Donald, who has a snow white hair along with a perfect ear for music.

It is Yakyments, who keeps a tuning fork, an instrument which emits a pure musical tone, during the concerts. Also, Yakymets composed or arranged 70 percent of band’s music.

History of Pikkardiyska Tercia goes back to Sept. 24, 1992, when, Yaroslav Nudyk, Andriy Kapral, Roman Turianyn, Bohdan Bohdach and Andriy Bazylykut under guidance of Yakymets performed together at Ivan Franko Lviv National University. Andriy Bazylykut was replaced by Andriy Shavala four years later. That was the only change that happened in the band.

When Pikkardiyska Tercia was formed there were few a cappella bands in the country. Therefore musicians had to develop and promote a cappella genre by their own.

Success of Pikkardiyska Tercia in Ukraine was rapid. In 1993 the band won a diploma at Chervona Ruta, the most famous local music festival at that time. The next two years they participated at Tavriyski Ihry, another popular festival. In 1995 they were awarded Grand Prix of TV song festival “Melodia.”

But popularity did not bring them money first.

“For 8 years we had been knocking our heads against a brick wall,” said Yakymets. “But we had been knocking against this wall until it fell down. Then we began earning normal fees, releasing disks almost every year, touring around the country and abroad.”

Since then, number of disks recorded by Pikkardiyska Tercia reached 10. The last one, Etudes, was released in 2009. Geography of bands tours expanded to Poland, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Kanada, USA, Belgium, Switzerland and Singapore.

Once, Pikkardiyska Tercia was crossing a Ukrainian-Polish border. Their car was stopped by road police at custom.

“What you carry in your car?” Yaroslav Nudyk, band’s vocalist recalled the policeman negligently saying.

“Not ‘what’ but ‘whom’,” band’s driver corrected him. “I carry Pikkardiyska Tercia.”

“Ah,” the driver replied then and let musicians go. “A major at the end of minor.”

Most fans of the band know that Pikkardiyska Tercia is a music term which means a major phrase at the end of music composition. Cheer mood and optimism is what Pikkardiyska Tercia associate with despite plenty of lyric compositions that the musicians have in their repertoire.

In 2006 the band presented Ukrainian culture to commissioners of European Commission in Brussels. The next year musicians performed together with Ruslana and Al Di Meola, legendary American guitarist, accompanied by a symphonic orchestra Leopolis.

In 2008 Pikkardiyska Tercia was awarded Taras Shevchenko Prize, the most prestigious national award in literature and culture.

“We have our own musical face and this was worth to live for the last 20 years,” summarized Yakymets.

The band is preparing for a tour around. The dates of concerts will be announced soon.

Kyiv Post staff writer Oksana Faryna can be reached at faryna@kyivpost.com. 

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