Our History

Past Conductors

Olexander Koshetz

Olexander Koshetz was born in 1875 in Ukraine south of Kiev. After he completed studies at the seminary in Kiev and the Kiev Academy, he taught in Stavropol and also collected and wrote down over 500 songs of the Kuban Cossacks.

He furthered his studies at the M. Lysenko School of Music and subsequently conducted various choirs such as Boyan, St. Olha Women's Institute and
the University Male Choir.

In 1916, he was appointed conductor of the Kiev Opera. During the revolution, at the request of S. Petlura, he formed the Ukrainian Republican Capella. This choir travelled abroad for several years to inform the world about Ukraine and its political plight.

He settled in New York and spent his time composing and arranging, especially Ukrainian liturgical music. Even while in poor health, during the summers of 1941 to 1944, in Winnipeg, he taught hundreds of young men and women about the beauty and richness of Ukrainian music. He died in Winnipeg on September 21, 1944, a few weeks after his final concert.

Halia Cham | 1946 - 1947
Dr. Paul Macenko / Tetiana Koshetz | 1948 - 1950
Walter Klymkiw | 1951 - 2000

Dr. Walter Klymkiw was born in Saranchuky Ukraine and emigrated to Canada as a young boy in 1928. As a youngster he studied the violin but in later years his interest was directed toward the art of choral singing. He studied Ukrainian culture, music and choral conducting during the summer courses taught by Olexander Koshetz, the world renowed choral conductor, and made it a lifelong study. Dr. Paul Macenko and Tetiana Koshetz also influenced and encouraged him during those formative years..

He was the artistic director and conductor of the O. Koshetz Choir from 1951 until his death in 2000. He furthered his knowledge of choral conducting by studying with such well known conductors as Robert Shaw, Robert Wagner, Norman Luboff, Elmer Isler and Anatoly Advievsky. He was dedicated to bringing Ukrainian choral singing in Canada to a high level of performance and worked tirelessly to achieve this goal.

Dr. Klymkiw participated in many community activities and was recoginized for his contribution to the arts in many ways, including an Honourary Doctorate of Canon Law of St. Andrew's College in Winnipeg.

Dr. Klymkiw dedicated 45 years of his life to keeping the rich choral tradition of Ukraine alive. As artistic director and conductor of the Winnipeg based O. Koshetz Choir, he created a living legacy for music that may have vanished under the Soviet rule of Ukraine. In addition to his work with the choir, he also wrote a book on the life of Olexander Koshetz.

Walter Zulak | 1998 - 1999

Mr. Walter Zulak was appointed the conductor of the O. Koshetz Choir in September 1998 following the retirement of Dr. Walter Klymkiw after 47 years. Mr. Zulak has been active in the Ukrainian choral community for 30 years and is directing the Macenko Male Choir. In addition to having directed the O. Koshetz Choir, he has also directed the St. Michael’s Parish Choir in Winnipeg, the St. Joseph’s Parish Choir in Winnipeg, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgit Mary Parish Choir in Grande Prairie, Alberta and the CYM Youth Choir (Prosvita) in Winnipeg. Mr. Zulak was also the founding director of the Hoosli Ukrainian Folk Ensemble and has guided the recording of two liturgical cassettes and one folk cassette. Mr. Zulak has studied piano, accordion, and the organ. He was also fortunate to have studied conducting under Dr. Paul Macenko while at St. Vladimir’s College in Roblin, Manitoba.

Roman Worobec/Corinne Villebrun | 1999 - 2001
Tetyana Rodionova | 2002 - 2006

Tetyana Rodionova was appointed as choir conductor in August of 2001 and remained with the choir until June 2006.
Tetyana immigrated to Canada from Kharkiv, Ukraine where she was vice-principal of a prestigious music school with an enrollment of over 1000 students taught by a faculty of 45 teachers. She was also conductor of a large community choir in Kharkiv.

Ms. Rodionova received a Diploma in Piano and Theory from Music College and then went on to obtain the equivalent of a double Master's degree in Piano and Choral Conducting from Kharkiv State University. Theory of Music, Conducting, Choral Literature, and History of Ukrainian Folk Song were among her areas of study.

Corinne Kostenuk – Villebrun | 2006 - 2007

Assistant Conductors

Corinne Villebrun
William Solomon

William Solomon attended St. Andrew's College where he participated in secular and religious choral music. In 1949, he became a member of the Ukrainian Male Chorus conducted by Walter Bohonos where he furthered his vocal training. He has sung with the Holy Trinity Cathedral Choir and the Continentals Sextet. He was one of the organizers and conductor of the Ukrainian Canadian Youth Association Choir. Mr. Solomon expanded his vocal training under the tutelage of Kerr Wilson and as a member of the Kerr Wilson Male Choir. He was asked to become a member of the O. Koshetz Choir in 1965 and subsequently became the assistant conductor of the choir and conductor of the choir's male chorus.

In 1985, he accepted an invitation to conduct the Hoosli Ukrainian Folk Ensemble and under his leadership, the ensemble has won two successive Manitoba Music Festival competitions. Mr. Solomon has also served as conductor of the Ilarion Youth Choir at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral.