A Ukrainian Summer: where to go, what to do...

Ukrainian community in Hunter area comes alive during the summer months

by Ika Koznarska Casanova

HUNTER, N.Y. - The nexus of all activites for the Ukrainian community that comes alive in summer in this region of the Catskills is St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Grazhda, located off Route 23 A on Ukraine Road.

The church and adjacent structures - the grazhda, bell tower and parish rectory - form a complex that has been attracting numerous visitors as well as passers-by, since the building of the church in 1962.

The highlight of the summer season is the "Music at Grazhda" concert series, which showcases renowned Ukrainian musicians and composers, as well as promising young talent, consistently drawing an enthusiastic audience as well as critical acclaim. The concerts of classical music are presented by the The Music and Art Center of Greene County, Dr. Ihor Sonevytsky, music director, with Volodymyr Vynnytsky, artist-in-residence.

The 19th concert season opens July 7 with a performance by concert pianist Mykola Suk. Successive concerts will feature violinist Yuri Mazurkevich and concert pianist Mr. Vynnytsky, July 21; bass-baritone Stefan Szkafarowsky, August 11; and oboist Ihor Leschishin and Mr. Vynnytsky, August 18. The final concert of the season to be held on August 25, will feature soprano Anna Kovalko and composer Maestro Myroslav Skoryk.

Joining in the celebrations planned to mark the 150th anniversary of the town of Jewett, where the Grazhda is located, the center is co-sponsor of the Jewett Jubilee concert. To be held August 4, the concert will feature the Greene County Council on the Arts Individual Artist Grant recipient Mr. Vynnytsky, who, with guest artists - soprano Olena Heimur, violinist Yuri Kharenko and cellist Natalia Khoma - will give the premiere of a work commissioned for the occasion. The program of works will feature American and Ukrainian music, including works by Robert Manno, Maestro Skoryk and Dr. Ihor Sonevytsky (admission to the concert is free).

In addition to the classical music concert series, the center also sponsors a series of workshops in Ukrainian folk arts, among them: ceramics and pysanky, with New York artisan Sophia Zielyk; embroidery, with Lubow Wolyntez, curator and librarian/archivist at The Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford, Stamford, Conn., and curator of the folk art collection at The Ukrainian Museum in New York; bead-stringing (gerdany), with Larysa Zielyk, The Ukrainian Museum associate; and the very popular folk-singing program for children, under the direction of Anna Bachynska. The latter will be held July 30-August 10, culminating in a recital on August 10.

In July the center will also present an evening of drama featuring members of The Ukrainian Stage Ensemble under the direction of Lydia Krushelnytsky and the presentation of the book "Auto-Biographical Memoires" (in Ukrainian) of the renowned Ukrainian opera singer Myroslav Skala-Starytsky (1909-1969).

The program of activities sponsored by the Music and Art Center of Greene County may be accessed on the center's webpage: musicandartgc@brama.com.

Another highlight of the season is the opening of a summerlong art exhibit, sponsored by St. John the Baptist Parish, featuring works of Ukrainian artists who reside or are affiliated with the Hunter area in the summer as well as from throughout North America and Ukraine. The exhibit, which opens July 4, is on view at the Grazhda through Labor Day weekend.

St. John the Baptist Parish also runs a gift shop, located in the Grazhda, that features Ukrainian folk art, including embroidery and Byzantine church articles, including icons, and books. The shop, staffed by volunteers, is open through Labor Day weekend.

Apart from the center's cultural fare, the parish offers lunch buffets on Sundays after liturgy, prepared by parish volunteers, with proceeds to benefit the church. Further information on parish-related activities is available by calling (518) 734-5330.

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The Ukrainian presence in the cultural life of the area, which has recently experienced a marked development and flourishing in the arts, will further be represented by concert pianist Mr. Vynnytsky. Mr. Vynnytsky will be featured at the Windham Chamber Music Festival in neighboring Windham, N.Y., with renowned jazz pianist Adam Makowicz in a program titled "The Chopin Connection." The concert, to be held Saturday, July 28, at the historic Centre Church building, at 8 p.m., will present "two great pianists, with two views on Chopin." The Windham Chamber Music Festival, which presents a series of five concerts this summer, is under the direction of Robert Manno, with Magdalena Golczewski, co-director.

On September 2, the Leontovych String Quartet - Oleh Krysa, first violin, Peter Krysa, second violin, Borys Deviatov, viola, and Volodymyr Panteleyev, cello - will appear in concert at the Grazhda in one of a series of string quartet concerts presented under the joint sponsorhip of the Catskill Mountain Foundation, Peter Finn, president, with Pamela Weisberg, program director, and The Windham Chamber Music Festival.

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St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church, designed by Ivan Zhukovsky, architect, was built in 1962. The church, dedicated to those who committed their lives to the struggle for the freedom of Ukraine, was blessed by Patriarch Josyf Slipyi on August 8, 1968. The grazhda was completed in 1973 and the rectory in 1984, in accordance with designs by Ivan Zayats, architect. The master builder for the entire complex was Yuriy Kostiw. The interior of the church features a carved wood iconostasis and grand lampadary, the work of sculptor Mykhailo Chereshnovsky (1911-1994) and icons by artist Petro Cholodny the younger (1902-1990).

A commemorative publication documenting the history of the church and the Ukrainian community of the area is currently under preparation; the forthcoming publication is due to be released by the end of the year to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the building of the church.

A Ukrainian Summer (main page)

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, May 6, 2001, No. 18, Vol. LXIX

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