Sofiya Fedyna: this is my way…
That my whole life is involved with creativity, art, music, and scholarship is not something that happened by chance. My parents have been creative individuals, art scholars and cultural historians. Probably fate itself brought them together so that I could be born. My very arrival on earth was very complicated. It was during the last wave of persecution and atheistic propaganda, when everything was done so that my parents could not live in Lviv, would not have work, and would reject their roots. But this did not happen. And from my first steps in life I learned to go forward no matter what the obstacles.
When I was barely three, my mother signed me up for lessons in music, singing, dancing, art, and learning English and esthetics. That is when my first performances and concerts began because, as it turned out, I was one of the few who had no fear of the stage and, on the contrary, happily showed people what I had learned. And as a three-year-old, I debuted on the stage of the Lviv Opera House. This was probably the turning point in my decision of what I will do in life.
Later, there was the vocal-dance ensemble “Veseli Cherevychky” [Happy Little Shoes] where I danced for ten years straight, the vocal group “Horlychka” [Little Turtle Dove], the piano lessons in music school…. I especially remember my teacher Iryna Ahasivna Akheian, who in music school helped me discover and develop my gift of song writing.
At the age of 12 in the “Spivanochka-dzhazochka” [Little Jazz Song] contest, I received an invitation to study under a unique person, the only teacher in Lviv at the time who knew how to train children’s voices and produce their shows. It is interesting that most Ukrainian singing stars began their careers in her ensembles “Shchaslyve Dytynstvo” [Blissful Childhood] and “Halyts’ka Perlyna” [Pearl of Halychyna]. It is during her classes that I understood that singing and the stage require intense work if you want to achieve something, and that yesterday’s accomplishments are not to be celebrated today – you must create your place in the sun every day. Lesia Salistra gave me this unbelievably strong vocal foundation upon which I stand today, even though she is no longer with us.
The next stage in my artistic life was my collaboration with Maria Baiko, an eminent Lemko, National Artist of Ukraine, recipient of the National Taras Shevchenko Prize, and professor of the National Lviv Music Academy. Her unbelievable devotion to Ukrainian music is worthy of our highest respect and, for me, it is a great honor that she is my mentor. Together we prepared my two albums, one of Christmas carols and New Year’s songs, “Ide Zvida Chudna” [The Wondrous Star Shines] in 2005, and one of Lemko songs, “Tam pid Horom… h Moyim Ridnim Krayu” [There, Near the Hill / Mountain.. in My Homeland] in 2007.
In 2008, to the Centenary of the birth of Stepan Bandera, a leader of the Ukrainian nation, my third album of UPA songs was released, “Bude Nam z Toboyu Shcho
Z-hadaty” [You and I Will Have Something to Remember]. The UPA was the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, founded during World War II to fight both the Nazis and the Soviets for Ukrainian independence.
I must add that parallel to my creative work, I graduated high school #53 with distinction, and with a deeper knowledge of the English language, then the Faculty of International Relations of the National Lviv University, where I now teach. I defended my Ph.D. dissertation on the subject of international peace, while traveling with concerts to numerous conferences and schools of higher learning. One time, our Dean Markian Malsky, now Ambassador of Ukraine to Poland, told me that diplomats do not sing. But when, the next day at the closing ceremonies of the First International Academy of NATO the respected representatives of the Alliance invited me to sing a Ukrainian song, and sang along with me “Ya Pidu v Daleki Hory” [I Will Go into the Far Mountains, by Volodymyr Ivasiuk], Dean Malsky said that he was now convinced how a song can be a powerful tool of diplomacy…
This gave me one more incentive to fulfill my great dream – I want to become an Ambassador of Peace, so that through my songs I can help solve conflicts… I know that this demands even more work, but when I see what impact and influence songs have upon people, I believe that my dream is being fulfilled!
For now, there are numerous concerts, festivals, and work in the studio — I am now preparing my fourth album, as well as guest appearances, presentations, and writing new songs.
I thank all the people who, in the various stages of my life, helped me, supported me, encouraged me, and inspired me and energized me for new accomplishments. I love you all very much.