Makovitska Struna

Bardejiv 2002

Spivy moho kraiu

The Makovitsa String is a festival of traditional folk songs as sung by the ethnic Ruthenians / Ukrainians in Slovakia. The Festival is organized on a competitive basis. Since 1973 it has been held in the town of Bardejov in pre-Christmastime each year. The name of the Festival has been derived form the nearby Makovitsa Mountain Range and the castle of the same name located there. As time went, the Festival became a treasury of folk songs for the local ethnic Ruthenians / Ukrainians. It happened quite often that it was the Festival that witnessed new revivals of songs believed to be known to elderly people only. This is how the Festival has contributed to the preservation of the wealth of the traditional folk songs for the future generations. In the last few years, the Festival saw a change. Now new songs composed by contemporary authors, however, still adhering to the typical features of traditional folk songs and music (tune, lyrics), are a constituent part of the competition, too.
The Festival has also become a breeding ground for new talent. It saw many young folk singers who started their careers there just being 8 years old. Now they are singing the beautiful Ruthenian / Ukrainian folk songs with success both in Slovakia and abroad. The present CD has been compiled to express gratitude to the prize winners of the Makovitsa Festival as well as to all those who were instrumental in the successful 30-years history of the Festival. The CD is also dedicated to all who love the traditional Ruthenian / Ukrainian folk songs.


After World War II rapid development of spare-time artistic activity among Rusyns and Ukrainians was observed. Choirs, dancing, musical or drama ensembles were established in many of almost 250 Rusyn-Ukrainian villages in the beginning of the 1950s. In June 1955 Festival of Songs and Dances of Ukrainian Workers of Czechoslovakia was founded as the first of such ventures in Medzilaborce, and it is annually held now, its performance location being from its second year in Svidnik. Other festivals were founded later. All of these undertakings were held in summer.
A hall festival in winter months was greatly missed, the one where soloists, duos or trios can present their singing. It was a contest of folk songs - the Makovicka Struna festival (Makovica String, MS), became such undertaking. This contest is annually held in the pre-Christmas time in Bardejov - an ancient town located in the neighbourhood of medieval Makovica domain, which was inhabited mostly by Rusyns. The name of the contest is derived from the old name of the region and the nearby Makovica mountains, where a castle with the same name can be found.
The festival has been held from the year 1973. Its founder was the head of the Department of Folk Artistic Creativity of Cultural Union of Ukrainian Workers ("KZUP") in Presov, Andrej Karsko. The "KZUP" was the chief organizer of the whole festival. Other co-organisers were Ukrainian studio of Czechoslovak radio in Presov and the Department of Culture of the District National Council in Bardejov.
The first festival under the title "Regional Contest of Interprets of Ukrainian Folk Songs" was organized in the Bardejov District Pioneers and Young People House on 7th and 8th December 1973. More than 100 participants were registered for the festival. The board chose 43 singers for the final gala concert. The participants competed in three age categories and in three groups, in each of them: solo, duo, trio. This concept has not been changed up to this day. Even the number of performers remained almost the same: 40-60 contestants. The concert was a great success.
The second festival already named the Makovicka Struna festival was organized in a newly established club of the "Jas" enterprise in Bardejov with the capacity of 500 seats and was also a great success. Due to the great interest of the audience the entire program of the Makovicka Struna festival has been repeated twice - in the afternoon and in the evening - from the third year of festival existence.
Also participants expressed their interest in the contest, and each year the number of registered participants kept increasing. In the second half of 1970s the organizers decided to organise district rounds of the Makovicka Struna festival, at first in Presov, then in Bardejov, Medzilaborce, Stara Lubovna, Humenne, and Kosice. Then the board nominated only the winners of the district rounds, i.e. the bests of the best, for the central festival of the Makovicka Struna festival in Bardejov.
Very successful was its tenth year lasting for three days (2
nd - 4th December 1982). The stars of this festival were the trio from Humenne consisting of Mihalic, Hornak, Petrasovsky, who were titled ,,golden nightingales" by the press. Apart from them the audience was fascinated by the song of 72-year-old Peter Hosak, Maria Kyjovska, Beata Begeniova, and Anna Sutakova (the future laureates of MS).
From the 11
th year (1983) till now the Makovicka Struna festival has been held in the Bardejov Sporting Hall Mier with the capacity of 1,200 seats. The programme of 12th year was repeated twice due to the great interest of the public, while both concerts were completely sold out. At present the average attendance of the Makovicka Struna festival in Bardejov is about 2,500 spectators, however, there were years when even 4,000 people came.
The breaking milestone in the history of the Makovicka Struna festival was the year 1986, when the organisers decided to declare annually the laureates of The Makovicka Struna festival. The first laureates of the Makovicka Struna festival were the soloists Maria Kyjovska from Bardejov, Anna Sutakova-Poracova from Presov, and Maria Semhricova from Beloveza, the duo Maria Bartkova - Maria Kanova from Jarabina, Stefan Lukacko - Jan Karaffa from Sambron, the trio Ivan Mihalic - Mikulas Hornak - Mikulas Petrasovsky from Humenne.
In the following years (1990-2001) the title was awarded to the following soloists: Beata Begeniova, Iveta Svitkova, and Valentina Humenikova (all of them from Presov), Natalia Puklusova from Porac, Tomas Namespetra from Kosice, Marianna Zelezna from Chmel'ova, Monika Sorokova from Bardejov, and Maria Cokinova from Ubl'a. In the category of duo-singing, the title of laureates of MS was awarded to Jozef Rudy - Vasil Dura from Kosice, the brothers Stefanisins from Svidnik, Mikulas and Natalia Petrasovsky (father and daughter) from Humenne, Ivana Vankova - Erika Mackova from Svidnik, Anna Kyjovska -Maria Vancikova from Bardejov, Jan Paraska - Vasil Harkot from Snina, Anna Poracova Sr. - Anna Poracova Jr. (mother and daughter) from Presov and the sisters Marta Glovnova - Anna Rothova from Zakovce. In the category of trio the laureates of MS became: Maria Kanova - Anna Derevjanikova Sr. - Anna Derevjanikova Jr. from Jarabina, Jan Paraska - Daniel and Jaroslav Hulaj from Snina, and the trio of sisters Maria Kotradyova -Anna Kopkasova - Katarina Glodzakova from Torysky.
Even though there is no financial reward related to the title laureate of the Makovicka Struna festival (material rewards are limited to a vase and a gift from sponsors), this title has a great moral value. Its holders are becoming real divas from day to day. The title of laureate opens for them the doors to radio, television, recording studios and more often also at a professional scene. Many laureates became acknowledged interprets who spread with great success the beauty and the wealth of folk songs at home and abroad.
At the 15th year of MS, in the year 1987, apart from the tile of laureate a new prize was awarded, Prize For Development and Popularization of Folk Song, which has been awarded to 118 participants by now. At the 17th year of MS, in the year 1980, Jury Prize was awarded for the first time (29 participants awarded so far), at the 24th year of MS, in the year 1996 - Prize for the Most Beautiful Author's Song. Author's songs are characterised by characteristic folk melody arid lyrics. The most successful are: Svit, misacku, z vecera do rana, Nanku nas dorohyj, Oj, Janicku, sto sja zrobilo?, and others.
In the first festivals each singer arranged its own musical accompaniment. It was usually an accordion.
Since 1983 the singers are accompanied with a professional orchestra.
Amateur and professional singers from various regions of Slovakia and abroad, mostly Ukraine, perform at the Makovicka Struna festival as well.
Scenic decoration in the spirit of folk traditions is typical for the festival. Unthinkable part of the performance of all participants is a folk costume, which has to comply with the costume of the represented location.
The main task of the contest the Makovicka Struna festival is searching for singing talents and popularisation of less know songs of Rusyns-Ukrainians of Slovakia. One song cannot be sung twice at the festival. According to the statistics by the year 2002 there were 5,413 interprets who sang 8,292 songs at the district contests of the Makovicka Struna festival. From these contests 1,434 signers with 1,043 songs came to Bardejov for the central festival. No other hall festival of folk song in Slovakia can pride itself with such number of interprets and songs.
The festival became popular also due to the fact that it is annually broadcast by the radio broadcasting studio of the Slovak Radio in Presov. The last 15 years of the Makovicka Struna festival are also taped.
The prominent Slovak ethnomusicologist, Ondrej Demo, wrote about the Makovicka Struna festival: ,,This beautiful festival of interprets of Ukrainian folk song held in the crowded sports hall with the capacity of 1,200 seats is an unusual and rare feature for the events of the similar significance... It is the only festival in Slovakia which won the right for the permanent existence due to its peculiarity (Druzno vpered, 1988, No. 2).
The soul of the Makovicka Struna festival, from its beginning in the year 1973 till now, is the above mentioned ethnomusicologist, conductor, and compositor, Andrej Karsko, who was for his long-time work as the first awarded by the prize for long-time organization embarking activity and promotion of folk song, which has been awarded by the Slovak Musical Union in Bratislava since 1992.
He was helped in organizing all contests by the staff of the former "KZUP" and its successor the Union of Rusyns-Ukrainians of Slovak Republic ("ZRUSR") in Presov.
The festival has become a significant cultural and social event. Major representatives of public and political life visit it: government officials, ambassadors, and representatives of social organizations.
The Makovicka Struna festival has always been greatly mentioned in the national and foreign press. It is positively criticized by significant ethnomusicologists, writers, musicians, diplomats, public and political representatives.
The Makovicka Struna festival in Bardejov is a real feast of the greatest jewel of the cultural heritage of Rusyns-Ukrainians of Slovakia - a folk song. It is also witnessed by this publication which is published together with a CD and audiocassette containing 31 songs of 24 laureates of the Makovicka Struna festival which certainly will please all supporters of folk songs of Rusyns-Ukrainians.

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Originally Composed: January 4th, 2003
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