Archive for October, 2013

First-ever English translation of Shevchenko’s complete Kobzar presented at the Ukrainian Institute of America

In June 2010, when Pennsylvania-born Peter Fedynsky was nearing the end of his tenure as Voice of America’s Moscow Bureau Chief, a talk with some Tajik construction workers in Russia led him to a fateful decision. The casual conversation, he recalled in an interview recently, made him ponder the difficult lot of ordinary Russians and Ukrainians. “They are both wonderful peoples that have suffered under callous leaders, corrupt elites and rigged justice,” said Fedynsky. “As I crossed a bridge over the Moscow River, I looked at the nearby Shevchenko monument, and a feeling swept across my chest that said, ‘Translate The Kobzar,’ because its depiction of that lot is still relevant, and the poems are enormously entertaining to boot. I rushed to my apartment, which was about five minutes away, pulled out my laptop and started.”

This past October 11th, Fedynsky, now retired from his 30-plus career as a journalist, stood on a podium at the Ukrainian Institute of America (UIA) in New York to introduce the public to the fruit of that decision: the first-ever English translation of the entire Kobzar, Taras Shevchenko’s iconic collection of poetry. The book presentation was one in a series of events the UIA, one of the book’s sponsors, has organized to mark the Bicentennial of Shevchenko’s birth in 2014.

It’s a sure bet that just about every Ukrainian would be familiar with at least some of Shevchenko’s work. While parts of the Kobzar have been previously translated into English and other languages, the significance of Fedynsky’s translation of the complete Kobzar may well be that a good part of the rest of the world can now get a much broader perspective on Shevchenko’s genius and relevance, according to attendees at the book presentation.

“This full English translation makes the seminal 19th Century masterpiece, long a national treasure, immediately accessible to a broad, international audience,” said Andrew Horodysky, a private art consultant. “For both the lay and academic public, It opens the door to the spiritual and psychological condition of Ukraine,” he added. “It is at once contemporary in linguistic treatment, yet vehemently maintains and defends the relevancy of the poet’s sensibilities and prophetic observations.” Echoing Horodysky, Sofika Zielyk, a pysanka artist, noted that it was “high time the rest of the world hears Shevchenko’s prophetic voice and understands why we consider him the greatest poet of our nation.” And from the perspective of a Ukrainian language teacher who tutors children and teenagers in the Ukrainian language, culture and literature, she said that thanks to Fedynsky’s translation of the Kobzar her pupils, “whose native language is English, will be better able to appreciate Shevchenko’s genius.”

Asked about his own views on Shevchenko’s relevance and appeal to non-Ukrainians, Fedynsky held that the poet’s treatment of topics such as love, brotherhood, justice, envy, fame, religious faith or lack thereof, as well as hope and despair are universal themes that transcend time and place. “Non-Ukrainians can learn from Shevchenko about Ukraine and perhaps wonder how it is that such a large piece of real estate and its people were kept hidden from the rest of the world for centuries. The world may also learn that slavery and authoritarian rule are more pernicious than they imagined, but also that hope springs eternal.” Of added interest to non-Ukrainians, he said, is that Shevchenko’s poetry spans a broad geography, taking the reader “on a journey involving about 20 countries, from Egypt, Israel and the Holy Land, through ancient Rome, Turkey, Poland, The Czech Republic, Russia, and on to Kazakhstan, with China, Japan and the United States making brief appearances.”

Fedynsky also sees parallels between the dark side of life in Shevchenko’s day as described in the Kobzar, and the social and political upheavals in today’s Ukraine. “What is today’s sex trafficking of Ukrainian women by the hundreds of thousands if not the rapes of Ukrainian women in serfdom described by Shevchenko? What are mazhory, the spoiled and law-breaking brats of today’s elites, if not Shevchenko’s lordlings (panychi)? What are the bitter political rivalries of contemporary Ukraine if not struggles involving such infamous figures depicted in the Kobzar as Galagan, Kisil and Kochubey-Nahay?” Still, said Fedynsky, despite the “downers”, Shevchenko leaves the reader “with a sense of beauty and hope that those problems can and will be solved.”

At the UIA presentation, Fedynsky also addressed some of the more controversial passages in the Kobzar, such as perceived anti-Semitism, xenophobia or anti-Catholicism. The Kobzar is not without “dissonance,” he said, but Shevchenko resolves the dissonance “through appeals to brotherhood as well as explicit condemnations of the hate that some accuse him or harboring.” For example, while Shevchenko denounced Russian czars, he praised writer Mikhail Lermontov as a saint and reformer Alexander Herzen as an apostle, Fedynsky noted. Moreover, most of Shevchenko’s negative portrayals of Jews “were expressed by characters that were demented or drunk.” Other negative portrayals, he said, struck him as “gratuitous” or in the vein of literary anti-Semitism seen in such writers as Dostoyevsky, Dickens, T.S. Eliot and others. “In real life,” he added, “there is a documented instance of Shevchenko running into the burning home of a Ukrainian Jew to help save his belongings, and then chastising others for not helping. Shevchenko and other Ukrainian intellectuals also signed an open letter to a St. Petersburg newspaper in support of Jews, which was a very bold move for its time, especially considering that it came soon after his release from ten years of exile.” In his foreword to Fedynsky’s translation, Michael M. Naydan, professor of Ukrainian Studies an Pennsylvania State University, similarly notes that Shevchenko’s basic humanity was recognized by Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who wrote that “Shevchenko gave his people and the entire world brilliant and unshakable proof that the Ukrainian soul is capable of flying at the highest reaches of cultural innovation.”

While previous translations of some of Shevchenko’s poetry tried to retain the rhyme of the original work, Fedynsky opted for free verse. The reason, he said, is that while most literary translations involve a compromise between aesthetics and meaning, “the problem is particularly acute with Shevchenko’s Kobzar, because his language is so light and eloquent that even translators in other Slavic languages have trouble conveying it. So instead of focusing on how Shevchenko wrote, I decided to translate what he wrote, because his content is as compelling as his language is beautiful.” Fedynsky said he kept only two rules for his translation: “strict adherence to the meaning of the original, and a constant rhythm, which was facilitated by the rich vocabulary of English.”

Judging by audience reaction at the UIA event, Fedinsky may have a hit on his hands. The sizable crowd was entertained by a rollicking presentation that ranged from the reading of excerpts from the translation, to displays of replicas of some of Shevchenko’s most renowned paintings, to musical interludes selected to show the range of Shevchenko’s taste—such as Beethoven– and reflecting the songs he mentions in the Kobzar.

Readings and performances were given by Fedynsky; the Ukrainian-American poet Dzvinia Orlowsky, a teacher of poetry at Pine Manor College near Boston; Bob Holman, founder and proprietor of New York’s Bowery Poetry Club and teacher of creative writing at NYU and Columbia University; violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv, the artistic director of the UIA’s Music at the Institute (MATI) concert series; pianist Pavlo Gintov, who studied at the Lysenko Conservatory in Kyiv and the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow; Jurij Fedynsky, a North Carolina native who moved to Ukraine in 2002 and where he has been active in helping revive kobza and similar Ukrainian musical instruments traditions; and Bridget Cory, an American singer who tours with British rock star Rod Stewart. Cory performed a rousing rendition of Yes My Darling Daughter, by American songwriter Jack Lawrence. The tune, a major American hit in 1941, was based on Oy, ne khody Hrytsiu, a melody that Shevchenko mentioned.

Shevchenko, no doubt, would have been pleased.

By Roman Czajkowsky
This article was published in The Ukrainian Weekly on October 27, 2013.

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Paperback and hardback editions of the English-version Kobzar, published by London, U.K.-based Glagoslav Publications, are available on A gift edition – a hefty tome that weighs in on 500 pages and contains numerous illustrations of Shevchenko’s paintings, drawings and photo-portraits—as well as electronic versions are available on the publisher’s web site, The publication also has a Facebook site, Kobzar Tweet.

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Art @ the Institute. 20th Century Modern Ukrainian Art.

The Ukrainian Institute of America is pleased to present the 20th Century Modern Ukrainian Art Exhibit. The exhibition opened on September 28, 2013 at the Ukrainian Institute of America and is on display until November 13, 2013. This exhibit features works by Archipenko, Andreenko, Burliuk, Gritchenko, Hnizdovsky, Hutsaliuk, Olenska-Petryshyn, and Solovij. The Ukrainian Institute of America invites its members and the general public to a reception on October 29, 2013, from 6 to 8 p.m. marking one of the last opportunities to view this Exhibition.

Mykhailo ANDREENKO-NECHYTAILO (1894 – 1982)

Mykhailo Andreenko-Nechytailo was born in 1894 in Odessa, Ukraine.
He studied at the art school of the Society for the Promotion of the Arts in Saint Petersburg with N. Rerikh, A. Rylov, and I. Bilibin. In 1914–16 he exhibited the composition Black Dome and his first cubist works in Saint Petersburg and participated in an international graphics exhibition in Leipzig. From 1917–24 he devoted most of his time to designing stage sets for various theaters—in Saint Petersburg, Odessa, Prague, Paris, and for the Royal Opera in Bucharest. In 1923, Andreenko-Nechytailo moved to Paris, where he worked on films such as Casanova and Sheherazade and continued to paint in the cubist-constructivist style. In the 1930s Andreenko-Nechytailo produced a series of surrealist paintings. He switched to neorealism in the 1940s and painted a number of portraits as well as a series the cityscapes. Andreenko-Nechytailo`s work is characterized by a precision of composition that harmonizes subtly with color. His stage sets are remarkable for their laconic quality and architectural schematism, and his costume designs, for their richness. He died in 1982 in Paris, France.

Yuriy SOLOVIJ (1921-2008)

A graduate of the Lviv Arts and Crafts School (1944) and a postwar refugee in Germany and then the United States, Solovij experimented with several styles (postimpressionism, expressionism, abstract expressionism). He used mixed media in unusual combinations and was preoccupied with the themes of birth and death. His later works deal with the universality of pain in human life. Some of his characteristic works are Motherhood (1947), Astral (1948), Crucifixion (1950, 1969), and the series ‘1,000 Heads.’ Solo exhibitions of his works were held in New York (1959, 1965, 1970, 1972, 2000), Chicago (1960, 1972, 1980), Toronto (1963, 1972, 1973), Munich (1971), and Winnipeg (1973). His art criticism were published in the émigré press and separately as Pro rechi bil’shi nizh zori (About Things Greater than Stars, 1978).

Alexander ARCHIPENKO (1887-1964)

Archipenko was a Ukrainian avant-garde artist, sculptor, and graphic artist. He was born in Kyiv and attended the Kyiv Art School. A year later moved to Moscow where he participated in exhibitions with symbolists such as Kazimir Malevich and Mikhail Vrubel, and first was exposed to the work of artists from Paris such as Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, Gaugin, van Gogh and Matisse. Archipenko moved to Paris in 1908 and was a resident of La Ruche, a neighborhood of émigré Eastern European painters. During World War I, the artist sought exile in Nice, and then moved to Germany in 1921. He finally settled in the US where he lived until his death. In art, Archipenko departed from the neo-classical sculpture of his time, using faceted planes and negative space to create a new way of looking at the human figure, showing a number of views of the subject simultaneously. He is known for introducing sculptural voids, and for his inventive mixing of genres throughout his career: devising ‘sculpto-paintings’, and later experimenting with materials such as clear acrylic and terra cotta.

Jacques HNIZDOVSKY (1915-1985)

Hnizdovsky was a Ukrainian-American painter, printmaker, sculptor, ex libris designer, book illustrator, and art historian. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and Zagreb, and produced hundreds of paintings, as well as over 300 prints after his move to the United States in 1949. He was inspired by woodblock printing in Japan as well as the woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer. Hnizdovsky’s woodcuts frequently depict plants and animals, and the primary reason for this, in the beginning, after his arrival in the United States, was the lack of funds to pay for a human model. But what was first a substitute for the human form later became his primary subject matter. He was well known in the botanical gardens and zoos in New York, where he would find subjects willing to pose for no cost. The sheep from the Bronx Zoo went on to be the print Hnizdovsky was best known for, and it illustrated the poster for his very successful exhibition at the Lumley Cazalet Gallery in London.

Arcadia OLENSKA-PETRYSHYN (1934-1996)

Olenska-Petryshyn was a notable Ukrainian-American artist and critic. She was born in Galicia, Ukraine. An émigré to the US since 1950, she completed her studies at the University of Chicago. Most of her work consists of lithographs, graphics and oils. Her early works were abstract, then she depicted human figures with expressionless faces, recently she has been producing paintings of cacti and prints of plants and trees. Her paintings were displayed in the United States, Canada, Brussels, China and Ukraine.

David BURLIUK (1882 – 1967)

Burliuk was a one-eyed Ukrainian, avant-garde artist (Futurist and Neo-Primitivist), book illustrator, publicist, and author associated with Russian Futurism. From 1898 to 1904, Burliuk studied at the art schools in Kasan and in Odessa, as well as at the Royal Academy in Munich. His exuberant, extroverted character was recognized by Anton Azhbe, his professor at the Munich Acade- my, who called Burliuk a “wonderful wild steppe horse.” In 1909 Burliuk painted a portrait of his future wife, Marussia, on a back- ground of flowers and rocks on the Crimean coast. Many times thereafter he would set the image of his wife to canvas. Without question two dreams possessed his heart all his life: the face of his wife and the portrait of his homeland – first Ukraine and then his adopted country, the United States. From 1918 to 1922 he traveled to the USA via Siberia, Japan, and Canada. Burliuk died on Long Island, NY.

“Art at the Institute” is sponsored by the Ukrainian Institute of America.

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Memorial Concert in honor of Jaroslav Kryshtalsky

On Saturday, October 5th, 2013 a Memorial Concert was held at the Ukrainian Institute of America in honor of Jaroslav Kryshtalsky its esteemed past president. Violinists Oleh Kaskiv, Solomiya Ivakhiv, Emilie-Anne Gendron and Mario Gotoh performed, along with violist Borys Deviatov, cellist Michael Haas, pianist Mykola Sukand and bassist Ryan Kamm.

Jaroslav Kryshtalsky (1933 – 2012)

Jaroslav Kryshtalsky (1933 – 2012)

Over several decades, Jaroslav Kryshtalsky dedicated himself to supporting and leading the Ukrainian Institute of America. In addition to his active membership and generous patronage, he served on the Board of Directors and from 2005 to 2009 as President of the UIA. His leadership focused on membership, programs, fundraising, process, communication, and succession planning. An avid music lover, he was especially supportive of the “Music at the Institute” concert series as its patron and benefactor. Jaroslav Kryshtalsky was exceedingly generous with his time, talents, insights, and resources. His energy, focus, wisdom, and his presence are deeply missed.

Pianist MYKOLA SUK, the winner of the First Prize and Gold Medal at the 1971 International Liszt-Bartok Competition in Budapest, has been described by American Record Guide as “a formidable talent… with an astonishing blend of muscular power, poetry, and utter control.” His international career has spanned four continents, with performances in the most prestigious venues, from the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory to Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and New York’s Carnegie Hall. He has appeared to great critical acclaim as both soloist and chamber musician on the world’s major concert stages and at many distinguished chamber music festivals.

Violinist SOLOMIYA IVAKHIV, noted by critics for performing with “a distinctive charm and subtle profundity” (Daily Freeman), enjoys an international career as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe, North America, and China. Her national and international festival credits include Tanglewood and Embassy Series (U.S.), Musique de Chambre à Giverny (France), Prussia Cove (England), Banff Centre and Ottawa ChamberFest (Canada), Modern Music “Contrasts” and KyivFest (Ukraine), and Verbier Festival (Switzerland). She has appeared as soloist with the International Symphony, Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra, Henderson Symphony, LondontowneSymphony, Orchestra of Southern Utah, and Civic Orchestra of New Haven in the U.S., and extensively in her native Ukraine with the Lviv Philharmonic, Virtuozy Lvova, and the Ukrainian National Symphony. In China, she has appeared with the Hunan Symphony Orchestra. She is Assistant Professor of Violin and Viola at Ohio University.

Violinist OLEH KASKIV began his musical studies at the Lysenko Conservatory in Lviv, Ukraine. In 1996, he won a scholarship to study under the tutelage of Alberto Lysy at the International Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland. He is now Professor of Violin at the Academy and leads the Menuhin Academy Orchestra. As a soloist, he regularly performs in his native Ukraine with the National Symphony of Ukraine, the Odessa Philharmonic, and the Lviv Philharmonic Symphony Orchestras and worldwide, with the Camerata Lysy, Camerata de Lausanne, Symphonisches Orchester Zurich, Orchestre National de Belgique, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, and the Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden.

Violinist EMILIE-ANNE GENDRON, lauded by The New York Times as a “brilliant soloist” and by France’s ClassiqueInfo for her “excellent technical mastery” and “undeniable sensitivity,” enjoys an active freelance career based in New York. A deeply committed chamber musician, she is a member of the Momenta Quartet, two-time recipient of the Koussevitzky commission grant and in its tenth year of residence at Temple University. She is also a frequent leader of the conductor-less Sejong Soloists, with which she recently recorded the Mendelssohn Octotet with Gil Shaham; a member of the Toomai String Quintet, specializing in innovative educational outreach and community engagement; and on the roster of the Marlboro Music Festival and the touring Musicians from Marlboro.

Violinist and violist MARIO GOTOH has performed as soloist and chamber musician across North America, the UK, Europe, and Asia. Her appearances at major music festivals include Festival Consonances (France), International Masterclasses Apeldoorn (Netherlands), Banff Centre (Canada), Aspen Music Festival, Boston Early Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Music Academy of the West, Institute and Festival for Contemporary Performance, International Computer Music Festival, and National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts National ARTS Week. She has served as concertmaster, principal violin, and principal viola in orchestras and performs regularly with several ensembles in New York City, including the Knights, Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Ballet Next.

Violist BORYS DEVIATOV is a graduate of the Lysenko Conservatory in Lviv and the winner of top prizes in viola competitions and as a conductor. As a member of the critically acclaimed Leontovych String Quartet, he performed in the major concert halls of North and South America, Europe, and the Far East and participated in many international music festivals, including Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart,” Newport, and Music Mountain. He has collaborated in chamber music performances with such distinguished artists as Yuri Bashmet, Ruggiero Ricci, and Ruth Laredo, to name but a few. He is a member of the Lumina String Quartet and the New York Chamber Symphony and is principal violist of the Bachanalia Chamber Orchestra.

Cellist MICHAEL HAAS frequently performs chamber and orchestral music in New York City and across the country. He is the cellist of the Momenta Quartet, a recent winner of the prestigious Koussevitzky Music Foundation commission grant, and of Silver Roots, a trio that focuses on mixing classical music with folk and world music traditions. Most recently, he has performed at the Society for Ethical Culture, Alice Tully Hall, and The Kennedy Center. A member of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, he has also performed with the New York Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and Princeton Symphony.

RYAN KAMM, double bass, is an active teacher and performer, who has held positions with the Nashville Symphony, New World Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and Haddonfield Symphony. He has appeared as a substitute with the New York City Ballet Orchestra, American Ballet Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, and the North Carolina Symphony. His festival appearances include the Tanglewood Music Center, Spoleto, National Repertory Orchestra, and Kent/Blossom Chamber Festival. He is a co-director of the Preparatory Division at Bard College Conservatory of Music and teaches double bass at Bard College and the Diller Quaile School of Music in New York City.

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“Music at the Institute” was sponsored by the Ukrainian Institute of America, 2 East 79th Street, New York, NY

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Jazz Age at the Ukrainian Institute

The Ukrainian Institute of America roared Saturday night on September 21, 2013 as the 1920’s came to life. Amidst the Gatsby gents and Charleston ladies, who donned their party finest – adorned by feathers, boas, sequins and shimmy fringes, members and guests all enjoyed this Smashing Jazz Age Party, dancing into the early hours of the morning.

This inaugural UIA-Young Professionals Council fundraiser supported the UIA Arts Preservation Fund. Live Jazz kicked off the evening with James Sheppard and his Trio. Specialty drinks were tailored by Joios mixologists with floral and herbed notes, while fabulous music resonated through the Beaux Arts halls of the Institute. The dance floor has never been so full at such length, all night long. DJ Nick surpassed his Rose Room reputation.

Beginning with their first efforts this summer, the Young Professionals Council has presented several appealing Ukrainian Language Literary Evenings. These events focused on authors and poets of the “60-nykiv”. Revisiting the historic accounts of Ukrainian authors has heightened the interests of this group of 21-35 year old Ukrainians. Guests have listened to the poetry of Vasyl Stus and Lina Kostenko and have gained perspective into their struggles as well as an appreciation for the poetic lyrical majesty and linguistic appeal of our mother tongue.

The UIA-YP Council thrives on the participation of young Ukrainians. This cultural program provides opportunities for young American Ukrainians and Ukrainian-born citizens to mingle, share knowledge, compare educational methods and personal experiences of ‘being brought up UKRAINIAN’ on different continents. Whether to touch base with the cultural heritage of our parents, to hear our Ukrainian spoken or to just enjoy the company of a young community in many languages, this Young Professional Council is on the right track. The many formats UIA-YPC offer gives something for every young Ukrainian to enjoy.

By Chrysanna Woroch

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