National Amateur Choir Chapel named by M. Leontovych in Tulchyn DCC was created on September 1, 1920, when Mykola Leontovych was appointed the head of the arts section of the district’s public education department. The choir has launched a significant concert activity in Podillia.
Thanks to the chapel, Leontovych formed his own musical handwriting, preserved and mastered the original breath of each song found. One of the special features of his conductor style is the rich timbre of the choir’s sound, the ability to build a sound palette of means of artistic expressiveness based on the regularities of church singing, the sense of plasticity of the musical form, the bright artistic talent and the temperament of the choir members.
The popularity of the composer’s arrangements is due to the fact that in the early XX century in many countries of Europe and America the Ukrainian choir of Oleksandr Koshyts successfully toured, which artistic phenomenon was based on the best arrangements by Mykola Leontovych. The crowning point of the repertoire of the Koshyts choir were authentic samples – «Shchedryk» and «The Duda Player».
After the tragic death of the composer – founder the conductor of the collective became his student, later Honored conductor of Ukraine, professor of the Odessa Conservatory Mykola Pokrovskyi. It was under his leadership that chapel was the first in Ukraine (in February 1921) which performed Leontovych’s death work “Death”. In the future, the choir performed in clubs, schools, folk houses, theaters, and even in the garden, in open air.
The renowned Podilskyi composer Rodion Skaletskyi, who headed the chapel (45 people) in 1926, greatly contributed to the renewal of the choir. The chapel’s repertoire consisted mainly of Leontovych’s works, new pieces of proletarian music were rated as wretchedness and meaninglessness, for what Skaletskyi received the nickname «Old Ukrainian Song». Choristers under the head mastered the basics of musical notation and subsequently received a professional education. The local leadership, assessed the professionalism of the performers, registered the choir as the «State Chapel named by M. Leontovych» at the Bratslav County Committee for Public Education. The chapel members became members of the professional union of art workers ROBIS enjoyed the benefits of Soviet officials.
The thirties became a difficult time marked by Stalin’s repression, when the NKVD authorities intervened in the chapel’s activities. The collective was forced to change two conductors one by one – R. Skaletskyi, repressed in 1933, and M. Hrynevych, imprisoned in 1938, they charged with an article related to counter-revolutionary activity. During Hrynevych the choir still retained its high level of skill, but its repertoire had to consist of works about Stalin, revolutionary marches and songs from films, and only in the last section of concerts were folk songs performed. The last pre-war conductor and singer Olexandr Voskoboinyk managed the chapel for less than two years. Under his leadership the role of the chapel was entirely reduced to the level of the district agitation team. The chief conductor was shot by fascist invaders in the early days of the occupation of Tulchyn.
During the Second World War (1939 – 1945) people asked for the support of the Orthodox faith and the Church. Romanian invaders, having captured Tulchyn (1941), immediately began to arrange the temples. In the short term they restored the Dominican Cathedral. In the church choir the liturgy was performed by participants of the chapel who did not have time to leave the city. They are Ivan Kozlovskyi, Volodymyr Pohrebniak, Yehor Melnyk, Mykhailo Ilkov, the Matsepudra family. The choirmaster was Dmytro Klevchuk. Thanks to this leader the spiritual works of Mykola Leontovych sounded for the first time in the choir. In mid-1942, honoring the choir’s professionalism, the invaders invited him to sing in the temple at the wedding of Romanian King Michael. In the years of occupation (1941 – 1944), during the worship, choristers clambered under the dome of the temple and, at the risk of life, listened to the messages of the Sovinformbureau and printed leaflets. In the liberated from the occupiers Tulchyn (1944), the choir performed several times in the open air and soon ceased its activity.
In 1946 the revival of culture and art began in the country with the reconstruction of the household. The conductor of the military orchestra petty officer Yevhen Voloshyn became the choir director. The traditions laid down by the Grand Master continued to live despite the difficult socio-political conditions.
In 1950 the choir master of the collective became a significant figure – Mechyslav Tsynar, who invited to the chapel to accompany and sing in the years 1950 – 1956 the younger daughter of the composer Nadia Leontovych (teacher of music school and specialized school of culture). She intensified the work of the choir and enriched the history of the chapel with her presence. The team goes to the decade of Ukrainian art and literature in Moscow prepared a new program. For the first time the work of a large-scale plan – the opera of Hulak-Artemovsky «Zaporozhets beyond the Danube» is performed. The success of the chapel was exceptional. During seven months 14 performances of outstanding opera were performed. The district management in recognition of the high skill of the team repeatedly financially and morally stimulated its members.
Since the 1960s the popularity of the choir has grown enormously. At the Republican Review – Contest in 1965, the choristers took the 1st place. For high professional performing mastery, the certification committee conferred the collective the title «National Choral of the Amateur Chapel».
Over the years the composition of the chapel has been updated. The renowned conductor M. Tsynar was replaced by his student, young graduate of the Conservatory Vira Goliuk, a high-level specialist. High mastery of singers, efficiency and the conductor’s capabilities allowed the chapel to be in excellent state. The repertoire enlarged with the original works of M. Leontovych «Legend», «Icebreaker», «Summer Tones», «My Song», «Testament», P. Nishchynskyi «Vechornytsi»…
Chapel became the first winner of the regional award of M. Leontovych, repeatedly participated in the All-Ukrainian TV Tournament «Solar Clarinets». During this period members of the Ukrainian Workers’ Choir named by Leontovych from New York (USA) visited the chapel twice. For the creative achievements of the choir artistic director Volodymyr Shkuratovskyi was awarded the «Crystal Horn of Abundance» of the international popularity rating «Gold Fortune».
Today the choral team lives in close collaboration with the Tulchyn College of Culture and the Children’s Music School; it has become a wonderful creative base for students and teachers of these educational institutions. The performing mastery of the chapel depends entirely on the composition in which a great part of the college’s personnel sings throughout the years. Thanks to these choristers the chapel has endured the most difficult times in its life. A Chapel named by M. Leontovych is the center of the choral and singing traditions of the Podillia region.