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Ukrainian bandura musician wows Moose Jaw in first performance

Iryna Levchenko had to leave her bandura behind when she was displaced from Ukraine, but a private donor has made it possible for her to play the bandura once again.
Iryna Levchenko holding the bandura donated by the private donor.

MOOSE JAW — On Saturday, May 18, the Zion United Church hosted a Ukrainian Bandura musician Iryna Levchenko, where she had the opportunity to perform her specialized music for the Moose Jaw community. 

The exceptional hour-long performance saw around 120 guests in attendance, as she performed 18 pieces, several of which were a duet with her daughter Zlata.

"I am very grateful to all who attended, " said Levchenko “I plan to give many more concerts in the future."

Once the performance was over, Levchenko was approached by guests with a number of questions about Ukraine and the bandura. Many were shocked to find out that the instrument had more than 60 strings.

At a very young age, Levchenko began playing the bandura and practiced the craft for 20 years, eventually joining the National Orchestra of Folk Instruments in Ukraine.  She also taught the bandura at a music school.

She and her family have a deep love and passion for music, but also for the bandura as an instrument. They see the bandura as a symbol of Ukraine and are proud to share it with Moose Jaw.

The bandura is similar to a guitar, but is also harp-like, and, traditionally, ia made exclusively in Lviv, Ukraine. It produces a sound that is emphatic and gentle, resembling the sound of a harp but with a larger range of tonal control.

Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, Levchenko and her family were displaced and moved from Ukraine to Moose Jaw in 2022. With the help of a group called “Ukraine Help and Exchange in Moose Jaw,” Iryna and her daughter Zlata, her sister, and nephew were able to settle in Moose Jaw.

Because her move to Canada was so sudden, she was only able to bring one bag with her, leaving her bandura behind. Due to the rarity of banduras, she never thought she'd play again until a bandura was found in Edmonton for $3,500. Thanks to the generosity of a private donor, it was restored and brought to Moose Jaw and presented to Levchenko in February.

If you would like to learn more about the Zion Church or about the events they may be holding, you can visit their website at Or you can visit their Facebook page.