It’s Christmas Day December 25 and we’ve reached the final door of our Essential Advent Calendar. As we open the door we reveal The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York, alongside conductor Vasyl Hrechynsky and Haley & Michaels, all of whom have teamed up to pay tribute to the 100 year anniversary of ‘Carol of the Bells,’ which was based on the Ukrainian song, ‘Shchedryk.’
The stunning tribute was released on Friday, 16 December, but we felt it was worthy of featuring on Christmas Day itself.
Watch the heartwarming video for ‘Shchedryk – Carol of the Bells’ below.
“As musicians, we are driven by our desire to put love and positivity into the world. We were especially honored when Vasyl asked us to work on his very special arrangement of ‘Shchedryk – Carol of the Bells’’, Ryan Michaels shared. “Vasyl, The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka and the Children’s Choir Moloda Dumka have become family to us – we love making music with them and using our collective voices to continue to spread Peace, Joy and Love – and continue to support and stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”
Written in 1916 by composer Mykola Leontovych, ‘Shchedryk,’ was traditionally performed by carolling boys in Ukraine who would go from house to house in their towns, singing and wishing their neighbours a Happy New Year, as the lyrics are based on a pre-Christian folk song. However in 1922, the song first made its way onto American soil at Carnegie Hall by the Ukrainian National Choir conducted by Alexander Koshetz. A little over a decade later, Peter Wilhousky wrote new lyrics to the composition and thus “Carol of the Bells,” was born. Since then, the song has become an integral part of the repertoire of choirs, orchestras, and popular singers alike who have helped to make this song a holiday classic.
“For me, this composition is special for a few reasons. To record ‘Shchedryk – Carol of the Bells’ contributes to the 100 years Anniversary celebration of Schedryk’s first performance on American soil,” shared Vasyl Hrechynsky. “To collaborate on one composition of two traditions in two styles of one melody titled ‘Shchedryk – Carol of the Bells’ and – to work with talented groups of performers such as Haley & Micheals, Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York, Children’s Choir Moloda Dumka.”
The release of ‘Shchedryk – Carol of the Bells’ is the second collaboration of the year for Haley & Michaels and the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka NY who previously worked on ‘Peace, Joy, Love‘ alongside Grammy-nominated pianist Jim Brickman and father-daughter duo Mat & Savanna Shaw. The song is equal parts hopeful and inspiring as it offers solidarity with the people of Ukraine as well as words of encouragement to those affected by the acts of Russia. All proceeds from downloads and streams are being donated to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s UNITED24 fundraising platform to aid the rebuilding of the country’s damaged infrastructure. ‘Peace, Joy, Love’ quickly caught the attention of the world as well and has been covered by the likes of Forbes and People, landed on the Grammy ballot and among others and was also featured in the Blake Shelton-produced Hallmark film “Time for Him To Come Home for Christmas.”
Inspired by the plea of President Zelenskyy, who was recently named the TIME 2022 Person of the Year, at the 2022 GRAMMY Awards to “fill the silence with music,” The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka NY, Haley & Michaels and Vasyl Hrechynsky, have been persistent in their efforts to bring light to a very important cause this holiday season. With a continued message of hope and unity, ‘Shchedryk – Carol of the Bells’ serves as another reminder of just how powerful music and the messages they share can be.
Listen to ‘Shchedryk – Carol of the Bells’ here.