Documentary film highlights massive impact Ukrainians have made in the NHL

KYIV – Uke, a documentary about National Hockey League (NHL) players with Ukrainian roots, premiered on December 3 in 42 Ukrainian cities and in every region except for Russia-occupied Crimea, as well as Ternopil and Kirovohrad Oblasts.

Director Volodymyr Mula spent nearly three years from concept to the big screen and got Stanley Cup winners of Ukrainian heritage, including the “Great One,” Wayne Gretzky, to speak about their identity beyond rudimentary Ukrainian words and cuisine.

Kyiv-based director completes documentary on Ukrainian NHL players

CHICAGO – A groundbreaking documentary film has been completed that chronicles the contribution that professional hockey players of Ukrainian heritage in North America made toward the development of the sport and the National Hockey League’s (NHL) nearly 103-year-old existence.

Its director and producer, Volodymyr Mula in Kyiv, spent more than two and a half years on the project interviewing such legends as four-time Stanley Cup winner Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton Oilers, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988), Eric Nesterenko (Chicago Blackhawks), who won the league’s top honor in 1961 and two-time cup winner Ruslan Fedotenko (Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins) in 2004 and 2009, respectively.

Impressions of the Lemko Vatra in Zdynia

The Lemko Vatra in Zdynia, Poland, is considered the largest and most recognizable Lemko cultural festival worldwide. Held since 1990, this three-day festival in the Lemko region has celebrated Lemko cultural traditions with hundreds of musical and theatrical performances on stage, as well as exhibitions, contests and traditional crafts. The Lemko Vatra in Zdynia has attracted thousands of guests and tourists from around the world, including not just the Lemko region and Poland, but Ukraine, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Canada and the U.S.A. Siblings Natalia and Marko Lyszyk, both young professionals who graduated from Rutgers University and live in Bridgewater, N.J., attended the Lemko Vatra in Zdynia last summer and shared their experiences with Mark Howansky, president of the Organization for the Defense of Lemkivshchyna (OOL), which submitted this Q&A.

Ukrainian American Youth Association’s 2016 exchange program with Ukraine

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the resurrection of the Ukrainian Youth Association (UYA) in Augsburg, Germany. The Ukrainian Youth Association was originally established in Kyiv in 1925 as an underground organization whose goal was to achieve an independent Ukraine (at that time Ukraine was under Bolshevik and Polish rule). UYA was dismantled by the Bolsheviks after only five years of clandestine operations in Kharkiv. During World War II, many Ukrainians found themselves in Germany for a variety of reasons, and among them were members of UYA who were never found by the Bolsheviks. These members resurrected the Ukrainian Youth Association and created what is the present-day Ukrainian American Youth Association (UAYA) here in the United States.

Designer Anna Karenina to show during 2016 New York Fashion Week

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Fashion designer Anna Karenina (not her given name), a model-turned-designer from Kyiv, is a rising talent in the fashion industry and will be included at this year’s Fashion Week in New York. Born in Kremenchuk in 1995, she graduated from Kyiv State University of Technology and Design. Her modeling career began at age 14 and her fashion career at 16 with her own line of clothing, as described in a February 15 article on Her fashions have been shown for several seasons at the Mercedes-Benz Kyiv Fashion Days. In 2014 she was invited to show at Pitti Imagine in Florence, Italy.

Millennials on a medical assistance mission

NEW YORK – Our Ukrainian society would not be sustainable without the influx of new community activists from the younger generations of Ukrainian Americans. In the past few months, six young adults, raised and educated in the United States, decided to make a personal commitment to apply their skills and interests to help victims of war and others in need of medical support in Ukraine. Their story is one of passion and patriotism, and how much a few individuals can achieve when working as a team. A grassroots project called Medical Aid for Ukraine was initiated this spring by Areta Bojko, 23, and Solomiya Grushchak, 22, when they decided to raise funds for medical assistance for war-wounded in Ukraine. Both Areta and Solomiya are pursuing careers in medicine, and were raised in the spirit of community service as Plast scouts.

Tyt i Tam releases latest CD recording, “Obriad” (Ritual)

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Saskatoon’s Tyt i Tam band’s latest CD, “Obriad” (Ritual), was released at the end of July and features a 12-track recording with reinterpreted Ukrainian folk-rock.  This is the band’s fourth studio album and does not have a typical “zabava band” sound. Founded in 2002, band members include Matt Gruza on accordion; Carissa Klopoushak on violin, vocals, guitar, sopilka, tylynka and lira; Mark Klopoushak on drums, vocals, percussion and violin; Steve Kodak on bass, vocals and percussion; and Clint Moroziuk on guitar and vocals. Tyt i Tam performs a unique and progressive style of Ukrainian folk music. Each member has an extensive background in many varied styles of music, which when fused together creates Тут і Там’s signature sound. As stated on the band’s Facebook page: “Тут і Там’s creative arrangements and sincere musicality transcend the studio and contribute to their dynamic live shows.”

Selections from Obriad include favorites such as “Vesnianka,” “Arkan” and “Nese Halya Vodu,” but also re-imagined classics like “Sumnyi Sviatyi Vechir”  (which dates from the second world war) that describes the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia.

Mark Topchii of Kyiv wins classical guitar competition in Madrid

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Classical guitarist Marko Topchii, 24, won the International Gredos San Diego Classical Guitar Competition on May 14 in Madrid. The competition featured three categories – firm program, free program and guitar concerto. Masataka Suganuma of Japan won second place, and Younho Kim of South Korea won third place. Mr. Topchii has now won his 25th international competition. Having competed since he was 11, Mr. Topchii performed on May 24 with the German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in Ratheim, Germany, and on April 30 he performed in New York at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall as part of the D’Addario Performance Series concerts.

Violinist from Ukraine finishes second at Belgian competition

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Violinists from Ukraine, Oleksii Semenenko and Vladyslava Luchenko, finished as second-prize winner (Belgian Federal Government Prize valued at 20,000 euros) and semifinalist, respectively, at the Queen Elizabeth Competitions in Brussels that were held on May 4-30. The competition featured concerto and recital performances by 62 candidates – 34 women and 28 men – from 19 different countries. Mr. Semenenko trained in Ukraine, and continued studies at the Hochschule fur Musik in Cologne, Germany, under Zakhar Bron and Harald Schoneweg. He plays a Carlo Ferdinando Landolfi (1770) violin, on loan from the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben. In 2010 he won third laureate at the Paganini Moscow International Competition, in 2012 he won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York, and earlier this year he won the International Boris Goldstein Competition in Berne, Switzerland.

Montreal hosts SUSK Congress, with focus on technology, community

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – The 2015 National Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union (SUSK) Congress was held May 7-10 at McGill University in Montreal. During the congress, delegates heard a presentation by Eugene Czolij, president of the Ukrainian World Congress, about a student’s role in the community. Mr. Czolij also answered questions from the delegates. The Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation was a major supporter of the event, as was the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Montreal branch, and the Ukrainian National Federation – Montreal branch. The new board members include: Cassian Soltykevych, president; Anastasia Hnatyuk, vice-president finance; Borys Bilaniuk, vice-president East; Alex Prokopchuk, vice-president Central; Andrea Dacko, vice-president West; Anton Waschuk, internal relations director; Dayra Naumova, external relations director; Inga Bekbudova, media director; Connor Moen, project director; and Christine Czoli, past president of SUSK.