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Ukrainian Carol of the Bells returns to Carnegie Hall 100 years later

by The Kyiv Independent news desk December 5, 2022 6:57 AM 2 min read
The Shchedryk Children’s Choir from Kyiv performs at the "Notes for Ukraine" concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Dec. 4, 2022. (Courtesy)
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A hundred years after it was heard for the first time by a North American audience, the famous Ukrainian carol Shchedryk,' also known as 'Carol of the Bells,' once again rang in the halls of Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych’s carol was performed at Carnegie Hall for the first time on Oct. 5, 1922. The concert was part of a cultural diplomacy tour to highlight Ukrainian culture.

Leontovych was killed in his father’s home by the Cheka, the early Soviet secret police, as part of a campaign to destroy the Ukrainian intelligentsia at the time.

The "Notes from Ukraine” concert on Dec. 4, co-sponsored by Ukraine’s foreign ministry, was meant to showcase Ukrainian culture as well as bring attention to Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine and its attacks on critical infrastructure during winter.

The concert included a performance by the Shchedryk Children’s Choir from Kyiv. The choir comprises 51 girls and five boys, ages 11-25.

There were also performances by the Ukrainian Dumka Chorus of New York, the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus, named so for the traditional Ukrainian instrument, the bandura, and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street.

Film director Martin Scorsese was present at the concert and gave a speech urging everyone to donate to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Rebuild Ukraine campaign to repair infrastructure damaged by Russia’s war.

Recordings of words from President Zelensky and First Lady Olena Zelenska were also shown during the concert.

Zelensky’s speech began with the concert hall entirely in darkness to highlight the frequent blackouts across Ukraine due to Russia’s near constant attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure.

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