NEW YORK – A long-time tradition of honoring the anniversary of the birth of Ukraine’s national poet, Taras Shevchenko, by students of the Self Reliance School of Ukrainian Studies in New York City continued this year. On Saturday, March 12, parents and guests gathered at St. George Academy for a celebratory concert on the occasion of the great bard’s 202nd birthday.
Principal Ivan Makar opened the program with words of welcome, and a brief description of the life and works of Shevchenko, one of the most respected poets and painters in Ukraine and around the world. He said Shevchenko was a prophet who gave his descendants guidance and commandments to follow, which are still relevant today, as Ukraine’s best and brightest sons and daughters continue to fight for their country’s freedom and independence. A moment of silence was observed for those who have paid the ultimate price in that fight.
Mr. Makar called on the assembled youth to be worthy heirs of the talented Ukrainian bard (kobzar), urging them to be conscientious students and active community members, to show a resilient spirit and to love their ancestral homeland, as did Shevchen-ko.
Like a wreath, students wove into the program perennial verses by Shevchen-ko, staged his dramatic works and sang his songs inspired by his poetry.
The program of the lower grades, which included “Taras’ Childhood,” “We Bow to You, Taras,” “Our Thought, Our Song Will Not Die, Will Not Perish” and “About Taras,” transported the audience to Shevchenko’s era.
Students in the upper school also presented an array of vignettes: “To the Dead and the Living,” “Taras’ Eternal Word,” “Unforgettable Bard,” “Shevchenko and Maidan” and “Mother, Rise.” These pieces combined the past and the present, exemplifying how the struggle for the values and issues of Shevchenko’s time continues through today
The school choir, directed by Elya Romanyshyn and accompanied by Nastya Antoniv, sang the bard’s verses, concluding with a rendition of “Testament” (Zapovit) and the Ukrainian national anthem.
Translated by Xenia Ferencevych.