|HISTORY/BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH: |
Sergei Eremenko was born October 10, 1912 in Basarabia, Ukraine.The son of Ivan and Motria Eremenko, Sergei was born into a musical family and grew up with a great appreciation for music, especially Ukrainian folk songs. His father was an accomplished accordionist and his mother was a soprano. Ivan was killed during the First World War, leaving Motria with four small children. She died at the age of forty-seven.
In 1926, Sergei joined a wind orchestra as a clarinetist and in 1929, he entered the Ukrainian music school Bukovinian Kobzar in Chernivtsi where he studied the violin, piano, and sang in the Kobzar choir. He composed his first piece in 1932 and that year was accepted into the State Conservatory at Chernivtsi where he studied violin, theory, music history, composition, chamber music, and conducting. After only two years he was called into the army. After serving, he focused on folk songs, creating a collection of over 200 folksongs.
During the Second World War, Sergei was sent to Holland as a prisoner of war, but with the help of a colleague he escaped and taught music in the Dutch underground. After the war, he became a well-known music teacher in Holland played in a symphony orchestra, and conducted a string orchestra.
In 1952, Sergei immigrated to Canada. Settling first in Vancouver, British Columbia, the following year he accepted an invitation from the Ukrainian National Federation (UNO)’s Edmonton branch and moved to Edmonton, Alberta. In Edmonton, he taught music, conducted a number of choirs and orchestras, and played with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. In 1959, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Elia organized a choir and Sergei became the choir’s first director and went on to direct the choir for the next thirty-eight years.
Sergei was one of the founders and a life-long member of the Ukrainian Music Society of Alberta. He was recognized with an Alberta Achievement Award in 1978 and an Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts Excellence in Artistry Award in 1992.
Sergei Eremenko died November 19, 1997.