Celebrating 100 Years of
Carol of the Bells

Carnegie Hall, New York

Notes from Ukraine: A Centennial Celebration Concert of Famed Ukrainian Carol: “Carol of the Bells” which took place at Carnegie Hall on December 4, 2022, with a sold-out of 2,800 seats.

Programme

The concert showcases world-famous choral artists from Ukraine and North America, including Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York (as featured on SNL), Kyiv-based, Ukrainian Children’s Choir Shchedryk, The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, along with special guests, including soprano, Janai Brugger, and Toronto-based Ukrainian folk singer, Marichka Marczyk. The program features a world premiere by composer Trevor Weston, setting the words of Ukrainian Nobel Prize-nominated poet, Serhiy Zhadan, as well as American choral works with Ukrainian connections by composers Eric Whitacre, Leonard Bernstein, Valentyn Sylvestrov, George Gershwin, and others.

“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!“.

— 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.

Hosts of the concert

The hosts of the concert were the American director Martin Scorsese and the American actress of Ukrainian origin Vera Farmiga.

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.

«Українці люблять співати. Ми це любимо. Українці – співуча нація. Наша пісенна традиція походить з давнини і наші мелодії обʼєднують людей через кордони. Напевно, найкращим прикладом цього є пісня, заради якої ми всі тут сьогодні зібрались».

“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”

— Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine, also addressed the audience.

Photos from the event

Photos — Fadi Kheir

100 Years of Carol of the Bells

The year 2022 marks one hundred years since the North American premiere of Mykola Leontovych’s “Shchedryk” (known today as “Carol of the Bells”) at New York’s Carnegie Hall. This Christmas classic has captured the American imagination through film, television and commercials — from Home Alone to Coca-Cola to the Muppets — and through performances by groups as diverse as the NBA, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and many others. 

The concert at Carnegie Hall on October 5, 1922 was part of the first Ukrainian cultural diplomacy project, a world tour by the Ukrainian Republic Capella choir conducted by renowned musician Oleksandr Koshyts. The Capella was established on the initiative of the government of Ukraine and sent abroad to promote awareness of Ukrainian independence in Europe and the Americas and to counter Russian propaganda. The tour was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Arts and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR), and they performed more than 200 concerts in North America alone, at major halls and universities.

“This year marks the centennial of the famous U.S. tour by the Ukrainian People's Republic’s Koshyts Capella where they first performed the all-time-favorite Carol of the Bells or Shchedryk, as we call it in Ukraine. Judging by the popularity of the song one century later, the tour was a great success of Ukrainian cultural diplomacy. We take this year’s celebration as a great opportunity to celebrate Ukrainian centuries-old culture and statehood in the times when Russia tries to destroy them. I am sure the event will give the audience a sense of what we are defending and why Ukraine will win.”

— Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba stated.

Raise money for

Part of the funds raised from the tickets will be directed to the Rebuilding of Ukraine through President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Initiative UNITED24.

About UNITED24 

Fundraising platform launched by the President of Ukraine and the main venue for collecting charitable donations in support of Ukraine. During the four months, UNITED24 collected more than 180 million dollars from citizens of 110 countries. Among the UNITED24 ambassadors are outstanding athletes Andriy Shevchenko and Elina Svitolina, creative director of Balenciaga Demna, American actor Liev Schreiber and the band Imagine Dragons.

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