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100th anniversary of Ukrainian 'Shchedryk' to be celebrated in New York: Martin Scorsese will host the event


Olga Derkach

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Cult director Martin Scorsese and actress with Ukrainian roots Vera Farmiga will host a concert on the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the premiere of "Shchedryk" in New York. This is mentioned on Facebook page of the Ukrainian Institute.

The concert will take place on December 4 at 14:00 New York time (21:00 Kyiv time) at Carnegie Hall.

will be available and Online Webcastif you are unable to attend the event in person.

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The concert will be attended by:

  • Ukrainian children's choir "Shchedryk" from Kyiv;
  • Ukrainian choir "Dumka" from New York;
  • Ukrainian bandurist choir of North America named after I. T. Shevchenko;
  • the Trinity Wall Street Choir;
  • American opera singer Janai Brugger;
  • Ukrainian folk singer Marichka Marchik.

In addition, renowned composer Trevor Weston will present his new composition based on a poem by Ukrainian poet Sergei Zhadan, which he wrote when Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began.

The concert will feature compositions by Eric Vitacre, Leonard Bernstein, Valentin Silvestrov and George Gershwin.

Part of the funds from the tickets sold will be directed to the initiative of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky United24 to restore the country.

How Ukrainian Shchedrivka Became a Hit on American Christmas

The Ukrainian Christmas melody "Shchedryk" is better known to the world under the name Carol of the Bells. Everyone has heard it many times in films and advertisements, but few people know that the author of this music is the famous Ukrainian composer Nikolai Leontovich, who worked on it for most of his life (from 1901 to 1919).

In total, 5 versions of this melody were released. For the first time "Shchedryk" in 1916 was performed by the choir of Kyiv University. The composition was based on the text of the Ukrainian Shchedrivka, which is traditionally sung during the New Year and Christmas holidays, wishing each other good and well-being.

Taking the uncomplicated tune of a simple Ukrainian melody as a basis, Leontovich turned it into polyphony, developing and intensifying towards the end of the composition.

On October 5, 1921, Shchedryk by Leontovich was first performed in the United States - the Alexander Koshyts Choir performed the composition at Carnegie Hall in New York.

In 1936, Peter Wilgovsky (a Ukrainian-American who worked for NBC radio) created an English version of the text. He immediately registered the copyright on it, as if he foresaw the phenomenal success of the song. Thus, the Ukrainian “Shchedryk” became entrenched in American culture as Carol of the Bells (“carol of the bells”), because it was the sounds of the bells that reminded Vilgovsky of this melody. The popularity came thanks to the author's ability to bring the song to the American audience through his influence on the NBC Symphony Orchestra, which took the composition into its repertoire.

In 1955, it could already be heard in the Christmas edition of CBS. The melody began to be used by famous musicians in their Christmas albums. And now she has become “popular” at all.

The now well-known "Shchedryk" can be heard in the American comedy "Home Alone", its versions are heard in the cartoons "The Simpsons", "South Park", the films "Harry Potter", "Die Hard 2" and others.

Many DJs of the world have created their own remixes for this melody. In their interpretations, the song was covered by performers and musical groups from different countries. In December 2014, the famous American lingerie brand Victoria's Secret released a Christmas advertisement in which models defile to the tune of the Ukrainian "Shchedryk".

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