The centennial of “Shchedryk’s” premiere in the USA was celebrated with a concert in New York’s most prestigious hall

On Sunday, December 4, the “Notes from Ukraine” concert took place in Carnegie Hall, the most prestigious concert hall in New York, with a sold-out of 2,800 seats. The concert continued the mission of Ukraine’s cultural diplomacy: 100 years ago, the Ukrainian Republic Capella performed “Shchedryk” for the first time in the USA, which became an integral part of Christmas celebrations around the world known as “Carol of the Bells”.

During the concert, the lights in the enormous hall were turned off as a reminder for the guests of the extremely difficult conditions in which millions of Ukrainians live now. After that, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the audience:

That is why I am turning to you now, true friends of Ukraine. To those who will understand Ukraine by listening to Leontovych. We need your support! Every doctor who is forced to operate in the dark. Every father and every mother who does everything to give their families what they need – even in the darkness. Every Ukrainian who has faith in freedom, despite the darkness. Together we will stop this war!“.

Part of the funds from the purchased tickets will be donated to the initiative of the President of Ukraine UNITED24 to rebuild the country. The concert was broadcast live on the Vimeo platform with the recording available for watching.

The hosts of the concert were the American director Martin Scorsese and the American actress of Ukrainian origin Vera Farmiga. American composer Trevor Weston presented his new composition based on Serhiy Zhadan‘s poem “Slowly”, written during the full-scale Russian invasion especially for this concert. 

“A hundred years ago, our predecessors clearly realised the importance of cultural diplomacy and presented Ukraine to the world at the highest level. It was at a time when they tried to silence our voice. This is exactly what they are trying to do today. But we will make every effort not only to resist but also to let the whole world hear what Ukraine is,”  said Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine

Martin Scorsese noted:

We gathered to support the Ukrainian nation, its people, and its art. And I want to offer my deepest respect and gratitude to the Ukrainian people. Gratitude because whenever anyone stands up as bravely as they have to such extraordinary cruelty and indiscriminate terror they deserve everybody’s deepest thanks. Because they provide us with something really precious which is an example of humanity and its very best facing the very worst.

The Ukrainian Children’s Choir Shchedryk arrived from Kyiv to New York to participate in the “Notes from Ukraine”. 56 boys and girls of the choir were forced to rehearse in a bomb shelter. The concert also featured one of the symbols of the Ukrainian community in the USA, the Dumka Chorus, as well as The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the Taras Shevchenko Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America, American opera singer Janai Brugger and Ukrainian-Canadian folk singer Marichka Marczyk

The concert was organized by the Ukrainian Institute, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Razom for Ukraine and the Ukrainian Contemporary Music Festival with the support of the Embassy of Ukraine in the USA, the Embassy of the USA in Ukraine, the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the UN and the Consulate General of Ukraine in New York.

Photo — Fadi Kheir