Arts and Culture

Ukrainian rock star hits fundraising stage in Kelowna

'Founder of Ukrainian rock' wows local crowd

Oleh Skrypka may not be a household name in Canada, and certainly not Kelowna, but ask any Ukrainian and chances are they know exactly who this ‘founder of Ukrainian rock’ is.

And for those who danced at Rutland’s Centennial Hall Saturday night it was a chance to keep the war in Ukraine firmly in mind while letting their hair down to the star musician who has been performing his rock/traditional sound for over thirty years.

Skrypka, 58, is known for blending classic rock elements with accordion, violin, trumpet, and other non rock sounds.

“It’s important that we’re getting a lot of help from Canadian people, not just Ukrainians in Canada, “he told Kelowna10 while preparing for the fundraising appearance. “We’re supporting the Ukrainian army because it’s important for Ukraine and the whole world that they can stop this war.”

Kelowna was the second concert for Skrypka, following his opener in Vancouver, on an 11-stop fundraising
effort across Canada.

But for Skrypka, it’s also important to be bring a message of new beginnings through his special Christmas concert to local audiences, albeit a few weeks after the Jan.7 traditional holiday for Ukrainians.

“For everyone, Christmas [is a time] for beginning a new project of thinking on Earth. It’s just the start [of this tour] but we’ve been beautifully received by Canadians.”

Asked how music can play a role in the ongoing fundraising efforts for troops on the frontlines, Skrypka said song is all about conveying emotion.

“We bring together the idea of liberation.”

For Denys Storozuk, who is the driving force behind the popular Kelowna Stands With Ukraine charitable organization, bringing Skrypka to Kelowna is a great feat.

“I’ve lived in Kelowna for 20 years and it’s the first time a musician of this caliber has come here from Ukraine,” he said, noting how exciting it was for some of the 500 Ukrainians refugees settled in Kelowna to be coming to the concert.

Speaking to Skrypka’s star power, Storozuk said he remembers him as a big star long before he came to live here.

“He was playing in the 1980s and was really famous in the 1990s, “ Storozhuk said.” He is considered the founder of Ukrainian rock and has been a big supporter of Ukraine since the very beginning [of the war]. Everybody knows this musician, they know his name, it’s just great.”

Skrypka and his Canadian based touring band move onto Calgary next for a concert series organized by Kazka Entertainment.

Published 2023-01-22 by Glenn Hicks and Connor Chan

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