Composer Alexander Kuzma and choral director Nadya Potemkina pose with Wesleyan Concert Choir following the concert on November 19, 2017.

Wesleyan Concert Choir premieres setting of Stus poem

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – On Sunday, November 19, 2017, the Wesleyan Concert Choir under the direction of Nadya Potemkina performed a choral setting of Vasyl Stus’s poem “Na Lysiy Hori” (On Bald Mountain) as part of its fall concert program. The poem was set to music by local Ukrainian American composer Alexander Kuzma, who arranged the piece for mixed choir and tenor soloists. The choir of 47 singers learned the piece in its original Ukrainian and performed it at Crowell Concert Hall on November 19, 2017. Earlier that fall, “Na Lysiy Hori” was premiered at Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic Church in Boston by the Yevshan Ukrainian Vocal Ensemble, but this was the first time it was performed by a non-Ukrainian ensemble in Connecticut.

Director Yurij Luhovy and Lana Babij, member of the Connecticut Holodomor Committee, hold the newly released Ukrainian educational version of “Okradena Zemlya.”

Ukrainian educational version of “Okradena Zemlya” is released

MONTREAL – The Ukrainian-language educational version of the documentary film “Okradena Zemlya” has been completed, ushering in the upcoming 85th anniversary of the 1932-1933 Famine-Genocide in Ukraine. The new documentary release will add to the resource material available for Ukrainian-language teachers in Canada, the United States, Ukraine and other countries. This documentary is a shortened version of the original 75-minute feature documentary directed and edited by filmmaker Yurij Luhovy. The Ukrainian-language educational release includes two versions for teachers to select from, 28 minutes and 54 minutes in lengh, on one DVD. Teachers of the Holodomor can choose the version that better fits into the length of their class time.

Performers of the Promin Ensemble with director Bohdanna Wolanska in the center.

Promin celebrates 45 years of song and camaraderie

For a quality musical ensemble to thrive for nearly half a century, talent, vision, dedication and persistence are the minimum requirements. The Promin Vocal Ensemble, founded in 1972 by the indefatigable and inimitable conductor, vocalist, musician and arranger Bohdanna Wolansky, has all these qualities and more – most notably, a passion for singing in general, and for Ukrainian song in particular. All accentuated by a genuine camaraderie and the pure joy of making good music together. In the late 1970s and ’80s, Promin was a staple at the now legendary Ukrainian Youth Festivals in Glen Spey, N.Y., at the time, the premiere U.S. showcase for leading Ukrainian ensembles and soloists from the United States and Canada. Later, Promin performed at such prominent venues as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the United Nations in New York, and Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

Roman Luchuk, “History’s Old Witness” (2013, oil on canvas, 24 by 31 inches).

Roman Luchuk: Painting the essential Carpathian landscape

NEW YORK – Art at the Institute, the visual arts programming division of The Ukrainian Institute of America, kicked off the fall 2017 season on Friday evening, September 29, to an enthusiastic gathering of friends and new faces with an exhibition of 30 expressionist landscape paintings by Ukrainian artist Roman Luchuk. Present at the opening reception, Mr. Luchuk warmly greeted the attendees by thanking the UIA for hosting his original artwork, and for the opportunity to introduce his imagery to a new audience. Curated by Walter Hoydysh, director of Art at the Institute, the exhibition marks the artist’s first solo showing in the United States. Conceivably, landscape painting offers viewers three verities – geography, autobiography and metaphor. Geography is, if taken by itself, sometimes boring, autobiography is frequently trivial, and metaphor is often dubious, at best.

WBENA ladies along with the upcoming generation of musicians.

Chicago warmly welcomes Women’s Bandura Ensemble of North America

CHICAGO – Most, if not all, Ukrainians are familiar not only with the bandura, the classic Ukrainian musical instrument of multiple octave ranges and up to 68 strings, but also the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus founded nearly a century ago.  Now, in the post-feminist era, exists the Women’s Bandura Ensemble of North America (WBENA). Comprising over 20 women, the WBENA held its Chicago debut performance at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral on September 30.  Nearly 600 people attended and listened to the ensemble’s musical stylings.  In true Ukrainian and Midwest fashion, the Chicago crowd warmly welcomed the ensemble. The two-year old ensemble is co-directed by Oksana Rodak and Oksana Zelinska. Their concert featured classic Ukrainian selections, including “The Echo of the Steppes” (Homin Stepiv), an instrumental piece composed by Hryhory Kytasty, and “To My Son” (Vyrostesh Ty, Synu), set to the poem by Vasyl Symonenko, as well as songs arranged for bandura like the traditional English ballad “Scarborough Fair.”

The concert opened with “Beneath Thy Mercy” (Pid Tvoyu Mylist) composed by Dmytro Bortniansky, with solo performed by ensemble member Lesya Klimchenko.  Not only did Ms. Klimchenko solo, she also arranged this piece specifically for the ensemble along with Mykola Lysenko’s “Parting Song” (Koly Rozluchayutsia Dvoye).

At the concert at Christ the King Parish Center (from left) are: Levon Hovsepian, (piano), David Gvinianidze (tenor), Olga Lisovska (soprano) and Vartan Gabrielian (bass-baritone).

Noted classical pieces from Armenian, Georgian, Ukrainian musical repertoire presented in Boston

BOSTON – Almost 100 music lovers turned out on Friday evening, September 15, for a special musical program in the ongoing concert series at Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center in Boston. The concert drew on the rich classical musical traditions of Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine and featured some very well established artists from those three countries, as well as some young talent that had been educated both in Europe and North America. The program was put together as a joint venture by Talents of the World and a new organization based in Boston, Ukrainian Vocal Heritage. The mission of the partnership is to share the uniqueness and beauty of both the vocal and instrumental, particularly piano, music of these people and others with as wide an audience as possible. The idea that is the impetus for the project is that music transcends all boundaries and that during the performances representatives of the different cultures will be able to show off gems of their own musical heritage, and, at the same time, their artistic excellence.

Flutist Andrei Pidkivka joins with his Gerdan trio colleagues, pianist Daniel May and violinist Solomia Gorokhivska, in performing a Ukrainian folklore-inspired program at The Lyceum in Alexandria, Va.

Gerdan opens Washington Group Cultural Fund’s music series

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Washington Group Cultural Fund launched its 2017-2018 Music Series on September 24 with a concert by Gerdan, an ensemble already known and greatly appreciated by audiences from its earlier performances in the greater Washington capital area. This time it was an all-Ukrainian program of classical, folk and ethnic jazz/fusion music. And after the loud and emphatic standing ovation at the conclusion of this concert at the historic Lyceum museum in Alexandria, Va., there was no doubt that members of the audience will return to enjoy Gerdan the next time the ensemble performs in this area. The Cultural Fund’s co-director Laryssa Courtney described this Washington-based ensemble named for a Carpathian mountain necklace in her introductory remarks, noting that a Gerdan performance is always “dazzling.”

The trio – violinist and soprano Solomia Gorokhivska, flutist Andrei Pidkivka and pianist Daniel May – began the first half of the program with six well-known traditional Ukrainian folklore pieces.

A scene from the operetta “Hutsulka Ksenia.”

Zankovetska Theater coming to North America

CLEVELAND – The Maria Zankovetska National Drama Theater, in existence now for a century, is coming to North America in late October. The troupe traces its beginnings to 1917, at the time the Russian Empire fell and the Ukrainian Revolution began, when young Ukrainian activists established political and cultural organizations, including the first national theater in Kyiv. Its first production was presented at the Troyitsky National Home in Kyiv. In the 1930s, the group moved to Zaporizhia; after Soviet Ukraine incorporated Halychyna in the early 1940s, the theater moved to Lviv, where it’s been ever since under its current name. Three generations of Ukraine’s actors went through the Zankovetska Theater.

“Circus (watercolor, 1936) by David Burliuk.

The Ukrainian Museum to hold “Fall for Art” soirée

NEW YORK – On Saturday, September 30, The Ukrainian Museum (UM) greets the new season with “Fall for Art,” a cocktail soiree and art auction celebrating the treasured institution’s past, present and – most importantly – future. With catering by another local East Village landmark, Veselka, and a special musical performance by pianist Adriana Helbig, the evening offers a chance for members to reconnect with fellow supporters of the museum and for newcomers to discover this cultural gem and see it as its festive best. While staying true to its central mission of acquiring, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting articles of artistic or historic significance to the rich cultural heritage of Ukrainians, since moving into its state-of-the-art space on East Sixth street in 2005, the museum has greatly elevated its standing in the city’s cultural firmament. Exhibitions have been reviewed in major publications like the New York Times, and Channel 13 has run multiple segments on museum programming. In many ways, the works of art generously donated for auction over the course of the evening speak most clearly to the museum’s evolution over the past decade.

“Carpathian Maiden #2” (1995, hand-colored papercut, 17.5 x 13, inches, collection of the Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford).

The Ukrainian Museum presents retrospective of works by Bohdan Borzemsky

NEW YORK – The exhibition “Prints and Paintings by Bohdan Borzemsky: Retrospective” at The Ukrainian Museum celebrates Bohdan Borzemsky (born in 1923 in Kolomiya, Ukraine) by showcasing a selection of works that represent the various styles and aspects developed by the artist during his long and prolific creative career. Curated by Olena Martynyuk, Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers University, the exhibition will be open to the public from September 17 through February 25, 2018. Over the years, Mr. Borzemsky developed several distinct styles that have become facets of his creative aesthetic. His solid education in painting and drawing – received both in Ukraine and in the United States – enabled the artist to become fluent in a wide range of themes and techniques: from portraits to still lifes and landscapes in oil, acrylic, and watercolor, as well as woodcuts and color prints produced using his own paper-cut technique. A moderate modernist, Mr. Borzemsky balances a decorative approach and pure painterliness with certain realistic details in his expressive images of flowers, birds, mountains, wood churches and Hutsul people dressed in national attire.