A Christmas Salute to Mom
New Children's CD Reflects a Family's Musical Apostolate
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By Andrea Kirk Assaf
YPSILANTI, Michigan, DEC. 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Comparisons with the von Trapp Family Singers are nothing new to Alexander and Danylo Fedoryka, two of the four members of the band Scythian who played on the main stage at World Youth Day in Australia.
Along with their eight other siblings and their mother, they were the Fedoryka Family Players, a professional family orchestra with five violins, three pianos, and two cellos who performed across the country at church functions, nursing homes, and Rotary Clubs, as well as playing at the Kennedy Center twice and at the Wolf Trap International Children's Festival.
Now four of those Fedoryka Family Players have created a CD of lively international music for children called "Cake for Dinner."
On Jan. 9, 2011, the two Fedoryka brothers of Scythian, both graduates of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and two of their sisters who are also professional musicians, Larissa and Melanie, will be performing songs from their new CD at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as part of a line-up for the Center's monthly free Family Night.
The siblings play the fiddle, cello, accordion, banjo, mandolin and other acoustic instruments on the album for original compositions of jigs, waltzes, tangos, and polkas. One song -- "Cleaning Hullabaloo" -- was written to help kids have fun while cleaning their rooms.
Gift of education
Raised by two Ukrainian immigrants, a philosophy professor and a musical mother who graduated from the Juilliard School in New York City, the Fedoryka children were given the gift of music from birth.
Actually, their musical training began even before birth, when the children were in utero. "Our mother would choose one song for each child and play only that during the pregnancy," Alex told ZENIT. "She liked one piece by Mozart so much that two of us got that one!"
"Our mother chose our instruments for us as soon as she saw the shape of our hands and we were all playing by the time we were four years old," Dan said. "She had lessons with each of us every day to make sure we were progressing and I feel the article should be on her not us."
All the extra money went to music lessons at a Suzuki center, the brothers told ZENIT. "Mom would go to every lesson and take notes and follow up at home when she homeschooled us. She was very dedicated and used the Juilliard technique and method with us."
Their new album is a tribute to their mother’s dedication and passion in transmitting the beauty of music to her and her husband’s 10 children, the Fedoryka brothers said.
"This album, and whole project, really, is a testimony to our mother," Alex explained. "Our parents are faithful and committed to God, and they wanted to show us God through the beauty of music and art, beauty as a reflection of God."
Joy of children
The immediate inspiration for the songs came from the time they have spent with their 25 nieces and nephews, however.
"The album was easier to write than we expected," Dan said, "firstly because of the way we had been raised, in a cultural house focused on exposing its children to beauty from around the world, and also because we had had a lot of practice entertaining our nephews and nieces. We had such a rich childhood ourselves with our siblings and mother and we used several campfire songs in the album that our older sisters had taught us that were favorites on road trips. So in many ways this album is a testimony to our mother and family life growing up that we are now passing on to our nephews and nieces and to other kids as well."
The brothers first knew they wanted to create a side project on children’s music from their full time gig with Scythian after experiencing joy when performing for 600 children at a school. "It was my favorite show of the year," Dan said, "I didn't stop smiling and laughing the whole show. At that point Alexander and I knew we wanted to do stuff with children."
One of the main reasons the Fedoryka siblings are so enthusiastic about writing music for children has to do with their own childhood. Music was fundamental to their formation, the brothers said, and the discipline they had to adopt in order to become successful musicians carried on to the rest of their lives, as well.
"Our mother demanded excellence from us and kept us all focused throughout high school. She instilled a methodology of discipline, and the beauty of the music formed us too," the brothers explained. "We would take turns going to the opera with our parents. It was magical growing up like that and it overflowed into the rest of our lives.
"She always told us before performing that this was for the glory of God so give 100% everyone. We are meant to reflect God, and the way we do it is to try our hardest."
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On the Net:
Cake for Dinner: www.cakefordinnermusic.com
Scythian at the Kennedy Center: http://www.kennedy-center.org/explorer/artists/?entity_id=14710&source_type=B