We’re ringing in the second season of Hark! with “Carol of the Bells,” or “Shchedryk.” Originally derived from a Ukrainian folk song, this Christmas classic crossed the Atlantic to become a major sensation, debuting at Carnegie Hall in 1922. Since then it has become an enchanting symbol of Christmastime with over 150 versions and recordings worldwide. And to this day the story behind “Carol of the Bells” resonates powerfully with the people of Ukraine. We speak with Ukrainian-American journalist Lydia Tomkiw about these modern-day parallels and music composer, Colin Britt, returns to unpack the musical brilliance of this tune.
Lydia’s article for Slate —Toll of the Bells: The forgotten history of nationalism, oppression, and murder behind a Christmas classic. Her report on the 100th Anniversary of “Carol of the Bells”, aired on NPR and affiliates: As war rages at home, Ukrainian choir heads to Carnegie Hall to celebrate 100 years of ‘Carol of the Bells’.
Colin Britt is one of four composers involved in an international collaboration called “The Same Word,” which celebrates the commonalities between the world’s religions. This piece will be premiered in Hamburg in February 2023.
Listen to Tatyana Yurina “Miss Diki” play “Carol of the Bells” on the bandura
Special thanks to GIA Publications, Terre Roche of The Roches, Tatyana Yurina and James Kennerley, the director of Music at St. Paul's Church and Choir school in Cambridge, Mass, for providing much of the music on this episode.
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