In the context of a powerful artistic movement in Ukraine that arose in the beginning of the 20th century, due to the outstanding efforts of Ukrainian composer and academic Hnat Khotkevych and his colleagues and followers, the so-called old-world bandura acquired a new look and feel, that was greatly improved. From the 1900s, such a «Kharkiv» bandura began to gain popularity, as its limitless possibilities as an instrument allowed it to satisfy almost all artistic interests of the time, in different styles and genres. It gradually began to appear in various ensemble versions of the Kharkiv banduras – quartets, sextet, etc., which had significant success in numerous cultural endeavors.
Іn August 1918, with the assistance of Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky, the bandurist Vasily Yemеtz founded the first professional ensemble of bandurists – the Kyiv Kobzar Choir. The group made a number of high-profile performances and became popular, but, alas, within a year lasted, by 1919 many of its participants suffered during the revolutionary events and the collective ceased its activities. In 1923, the «Kyiv Bandura Capella» was reestablished and included two bandurists from the former «Kobzar Choir» – Hryhoriy Andriychyk and Hryhoriy Kopan.
In 1925, the Poltava Bandura Capella, founded on the basis of a kobzar studio at the Poltava Peasant House, was established, and included within its ranks the best singers of the Poltava National Choir and choir of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Cathedral. Volodymyr Kabachok became the artistic director. During 1926 the choir performed a number of performances by Ukraine and renamed the «Poltava District Capella of Kobzars».
For some time the USSR helped finance the retention of the Kyiv and Poltava Bandurist’ Capellas. In 1928 the Poltava Capella began to collaborate with Hnat Khotkevych, to create a unique repertoire, and actively give concerts. In 1930 the ideological pressure on the activity of the Capella had intensified, Khotkevych’s works were banned, although the composer continues to fight for their right to be performed desperately, for which in 1933 he was dismissed from the leadership of the Capella, and in 1934 financing was stopped. The director of the Capella, Volodymyr Kabachok, was arrested in Kyiv in January 1934, and the collective collection of music composed for the Capella was seized and destroyed, including the unique scores of Hnat Khotkevych.
In 1935 a united Ukrainian State Exemplary Bandura Capella was created, which consisted of the remnants of the participants of the Kobzar Choir and the ruined Poltava Bandura Capella. This assembled ensemble began working under the guidance of a choirmaster Mykola Mykhailov. Hnat Khotkevych was arrested and executed in 1938.
At the commencement of the Second World War, the participants of the Ukrainian state-run Bandurist Capella, which was Kyiv-based, were again disbanded – younger artists were mobilized into the ranks of the Soviet Army, senior and unreliable activists were involved in digging anti-tank traps. At the time of the capture of Kyiv by the German army in September 1941, there were only four artists of the former prewar group in the city. Kyiv officially entered the Reichskomisariat Ukraine and was treated as a German territory. A change of leadership took place, the daily newspaper «Ukrainian Word», the literary magazine «Lytavry» began publication. One of the musicians of the capella, Dmytro Chernenko, in one of the first issues of the «Ukrainian Word», made the announcement for the members of the capella to return to Kyiv and reestablish the ensemble. From the German POW camps, Timothy Pivko and Hryhory Kytasty, who joined the reconstituted collective, and artistic director became Hryhory Kytasty. During 1941-1942 the ensemble actively performed in Galicia, performing to the soldiers of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, creating at this time a unique repertoire consisting of rebel songs and marches, and since 1942 touring Germany. In 1945, the ensemble directed by Hryhory Kytasty finds themselves in the American occupation zone in Ingolstadt, then after moving to Regensburg, it emigrated as a whole to Detroit (USA) in 1949.
At the end of the Second World War, in 1946, the bandura activities were restored in Kyiv by the creation of the State Bandura Capella of the Ukrainian SSR. Directing the Capella was a talented musician Olexander Minkivsky. The repertoire of the capella was updated, concert and tour activities began. In the post-war period the USSR established a clear system of cultural management, which controlled the procedure for conducting concert performances throughout the territory of the then state, as a result the activity of the Capella came under the full control of the governing bodies of culture of the USSR. This gave the opportunity to perform the allowed Ukrainian repertoire, to grow professionally, to improve performance on the bandura, to preserve a certain part of Ukrainian traditions. The capella was able to perform within the territory of the USSR and abroad, became a model folk ensemble, received a number of state awards, and over the years its activity has become a unique cultural phenomenon, a cult collective that has for many years been had success story of Ukrainian art in the world. During the history of the collective, he was led by prominent musicians Hryhory Kulyaba, Mykola Hvozd, Victor Skoromny. From 2013, the head of the Capella is Yuri Kurach.
Upon moving to the United States, in the 1950s, members of the Ukrainian Bandura Chorus, despite the difficult financial circumstances that accompanied them on the path of adaptation and employment in the territory of other state. Ukrainian bandurists settled in different cities of the United States of America, some moved to Canada, but despite this, they still restored the work of the famous ensemble, continuing and cultivating the traditions established in the first half of the twentieth century. Ukrainian Bandura Chorus has toured the world, popularizing Ukrainian traditions and musical art. The members of the chorus have preserved the unique and destroyed pre-war repertoire of Ukraine, which contains religious works, church carols, republican, rifleman and rebel songs, musicianship and performance traditions, and, most importantly, a pre-war instrument, a bandura of the Kharkiv type, which in Ukraine today remain on in a few limited copies.
Ukrainian art in the diaspora presented the world with a number of talented names of outstanding personalities that have done a great deal to preserve and popularize Ukrainian culture, including the names of Hryhoriy, Ivan and Julian Kytasty, Victor Mishalow, Oleh Mahlay and many others. Today, the choir members are actively touring, implementing educational programs, inviting musicians from Ukraine, and supporting the development of common traditions.