A Brief History of the Vancouver Folk Orchestra


A Brief History of the Vancouver Folk Orchestra


The history of the Vancouver Folk Orchestra and its historical precursors.




Reproduction may be restricted. Contact AUUC.


Vancouver, BC




Taken from the Vancouver Folk Orchestra biographies at the AUUC Vancouver Archives. Includes a piece written by current orchestra conductor Pavel Ryzlovsky.


The Vancouver Folk Orchestra, formerly known as the Vancouver String Orchestra, had its beginnings in 1923 when it was organized by William Nazarkevich; it is one of the oldest folk orchestras in the city. Some of the members learned to play their instruments at the hall as children and still play today,. For many years the orchestra has continued to be an integral part of the Association's cultural work, presenting concerts as well as providing providing accompaniment for the choirs and dance groups of the AUUC.

The basic instrument of the Orchestra is the Ukrainian Domra. Accompanying the domra are mandolins, Russian balalaikas, woodwinds, and brasses. This unique combination blends into the vibrant and colourful sound that Ukrainian folk music is known for.

In the 1960's the Orchestra achieved technical excellence. Included in its membership were many of the best mandolin, domra, and balalaika players in Canada. The Orchestra won BC's music festival awards in the "Orchestra-Open" with marks of ninety and above. At its peak the orchestra was a large ensemble and performed in Seattle, Montreal, and at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. In 2005 members travelled to Regina for a National Ukrainian Centennial Celebration which involved more than three hundred performers.

Today the orchestra is small and beginning a rebuilding process, and has welcomed multiple conductors. Pavel Ryzlovsky currently conducts the orchestra, which has a huge resource of Ukrainian and classical music and welcomes musicians of all backgrounds, not just Ukrainian.


“A Brief History of the Vancouver Folk Orchestra,” Association of United Ukrainian Canadians - Vancouver, accessed April 18, 2021, https://auucvancouver.digitalhistoryhub.com/items/show/185.