Composer, conductor, and bandurist, Hryhory Kytasty (1907-1984) was born into a peasant family in Kobeliak, Poltava region in the central part of Ukraine.  His parents imbued their children with religious spirituality, love for the folk songs that they sang, and a deep consciousness of the Kozak heritage of the family.  At an early age, Hryhory showed a musical interest and began singing in church choirs.  Later, he entered the Poltava Musical Technicum.  Hryhory completed his advanced musical education in composition and choral conducting in Kyiv at the Lysenko Institute of Music and Drama.  During that time, he obtained work with the Kyiv Opera choir and had the opportunity to learn operatic repertoire.  More importantly, the money he earned enabled him to survive the Holodomor of 1932-1933.  Hryhory then joined the National Bandurist Choir as concertmaster and later became the assistant musical director.

When World War II erupted into Ukraine, Hryhory was among the millions mobilized into the Soviet army.  He was captured by the Germans but miraculously escaped and returned to occupied Kyiv.  There he searched out other surviving bandurists which then formed into a new group, the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus (UBC).  Maestro Kytasty became their musical director and led them through the havoc of war, their time interned in a German concentration camp, and eventually to freedom in 1949 to the USA.  Taking jobs in industries of Detroit, the UBC members strived to preserve their unique musical heritage and to present to the world, in the finest concert halls of America, Canada, Europe, and Australia, the beauty of Ukrainian song and the culture of her people.

Hryhory Kytasty’s musical genius created a large number of secular and sacred compositions and arrangements for bandura chorus, vocal soloists, mixed choir, bandura, piano, and choral symphony.  He recorded eleven albums while at the helm of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus as well of two albums as a solo performing artist.   In 2008 he was awarded the Hero of Ukraine  honor and medal  by the Ukrainian Government.