32 Broadway, Suite 1314 • New York, NY 10004 • Tel: 212-571-1555 • traditions@ctmd.org

Ukrainian Wave Community Cultural Initiative

New York’s Ukrainian community was built through several distinct waves of immigration dating back to the second half of the nineteenth century, and expanded greatly after WWII with refugees from Displaced Persons camps.  Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the independence of Ukraine in the same year, a large number of multi-generational Ukrainians immigrated to the city, settling primarily in Brooklyn and Queens.  Large numbers of Ukrainian Jews also immigrated to the US at the same time, many settling in the Brighton  Beach area of Brooklyn.  A significant community of Muslim Tatars from the Crimea is centered at a mosque/social center on New Utrecht  Ave. in Boro Park, Brooklyn.

Led by cultural specialists Julian Kytasty (Artistic Director of the New York Bandura Ensemble) and Andriy Milavsky (leader of the Cheres ensemble), the Ukrainian Wave Community Cultural Initiative was launched in January, 2007 with the goal of building a common “cultural space” serving community members from the different waves of immigration.

In just two short years a number of programs have been introduced to serve the community. An ongoing partnership with the Ukrainian  Museum and the New York Bandura Ensemble has brought a regular series of concerts to the Museum that relate thematically to the Museum’s exhibits. The popular Vechornytsi (Carpathian village dance) series has been ongoing at restaurants in Manhattan’s East Village and Brooklyn, featuring leading dance instructors such as Tamara Chernyakhovska and live music.

A Sharing Traditions program has been implemented at the St. George  Academy in the East  Village to teach young students a variety of traditional Ukrainian repertoire and instruments, including sopilka (end-blown flute), clarinet, accordion and violin. The Ukrainian Women’s Voices program features a workshop series culminating with a concert that has allowed participants to perform alongside renowned traditional singers such as Mariana Sadowska and Nadia Tarnawsky.  In 2007, funding from the Government of Alberta allowed two major Canadian-Ukrainian cultural scholars, Andriy Nahachewsky (University of Alberta) and Brian Cherwick, to provide a series of lectures, workshops, and performances on the Prairie music and dance scene of the large Canadian-Ukrainian community of western Canada. 

Additionally, Ukrainian Wave actively promotes Julian Kytasty's collaboration with Yiddish singer/multi-instrumentalist Michael Alpert entitled Night Songs From a Neighboring Village.

For more information about this Initiative or to volunteer, contact Eileen Condon at 212-571-1555, ext. 35 or by email.

Key Artists and Other Individuals

  • Nariman Asanov and The New York Crimean Tatar Ensemble
  • Cheres Folk Ensemble
  • Tamara Chernyakhovska – dancer/dance collector, director of Holubka Dance Ensemble
  • Brian Cherwick, Ph.D. – ethnomusicologist, tsymbaly (hammered dulcimer) player
  • Columbia University Teachers College Music and Music Education Department (Professor Lori Custodero, advisor)
  • Eileen Condon, Ph. D. – CTMD Project Director
  • Ensemble Hilka
  • Inka Juslin - Dancer
  • Julian Kytasty – co-Artistic Director, bandura (harp/lute) player, director of the New York Bandura Ensemble
  • Ivan Lechicky - bandura (harp/lute) player, member of Promin’ Ukrainian Choir and New York Bandura Ensemble
  • Andriy Milavsky – co-Artistic Director, clarinetist, sopilka (end-blown flute) player, director of Cheres Folk Ensemble
  • Andriy Nahachewsky, Ph.D. – dance ethnographer
  • St. George  Academy
  • Mariana Sadowska – singer, song collector
  • Maria Sonevytsky, ethnomusicologist, accordionist
  • Nadia Tarnawsky – singer, song collector
  • Ukrainian  Museum (Maria Shust, Museum Director and Hanya Krill, Program Director)
  • Yevhen Yefremov – Kiev-based Ethnomusicologist, Director of the Drevo Ensemble

See Video and Pictures of Recent Ukrainian Wave Events!

Video of June 13, 2009 concert at the Ukrainian Museum: "June Wedding: An Evening of Traditional Ukrainian Wedding Songs," with Nadia Tarnawsky and Ukrainian Women's Voices (video by James Napoli).

Photos from Vechornytsi dance party at Brooklyn Ukrainian Restaurant, February 26, 2009 (photos by Eileen Condon)

We are grateful for the support of New York City Council Member Rosie Mendez.

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