The Ukrainian Community of the Philadelphia area celebrated Ukraine’s Independence Day at Tryzubivka
Horsham, PA – 26 August, 2012

The blue and yellow colors adorning Tryzubivka gleamed with brilliant vibrancy in the gorgeous Sunday afternoon sun which greeted over 1,500 people, young and old, as they assembled to celebrate twenty-one years of Ukraine’s independence. Banners danced gracefully in the light summer breeze which invigorated the senses with a uniquely Ukrainian spirit.


Father Taras Naumenko offered the Invocation Prayer

Grace Ukrainian Baptist Choir sings “The Lord’s Prayer”

The anticipation was palpable, as the Karpaty Ukrainian Dance Orchestra warmed the crowd with a rich variety of folk songs. Everyone expected “the fireworks”: a grand explosion of color, sound, movement and energy that is Ukrainian folk music and dance.
The opening ceremonies began with the national anthems of Canada, the United States of America and Ukraine. After Tryzub’s president, Danylo Nysch, greeted the people, Rev. Proto-priest Father Taras Naumenko, pastor of St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Philadelphia, led the faithful in a particularly moving prayer. The Grace Ukrainian Baptist Church Choir, under the baton of Ivan Velenchuk, then sang beautiful renditions of “The Lord’s Prayer” and “The Prayer for Ukraine” (“Bozhe Velykyj Yedynyj”). Some were less successful than others in forcing back the tears.

The Zoriany Academic Theater of Music, Singing and Dance, a 40 artist strong ensemble of dancers, orchestral musicians and singers from Kirovohrad, Ukraine, opened the concert program with a majestic twenty minute long medley of Ukrainian folk dances, music and songs. They performed a second such medley later in the program. They showcased a vast array of Ukrainian regional variations and styles. A brilliant, highly talented and extremely accomplished ensemble from Canada, The Desna Ukrainian Dance Company of Toronto, greatly enriched the stage with an especially diverse and varied collection of folk dances. Their fusion of traditional Ukrainian styles with various “foreign: motifs made several of their dances, including the Canadian Country Dance and Miners, particularly entertaining. Stage MCs, Tanya Husar and Gene Luciw, intertwined the ensembles’ performances  with a rich bounty of exquisitely beautiful music and song  performed by  violinist-virtuoso, Innesa Tymochko Dekajlo (Lviv) the Vox Ethnika orchestra (NYC) The people showed their appreciation with applause which were matched only by their cheers, broad grins and smiles. Words from Desna’s promotional materials aptly described the performances of all of the entertainers that day:  “[They wrere] … technically demanding and exhilarating …   accented by exquisite costumes and diverse music. [The] celebration…create[d] a vibrant spectacle for all audiences to enjoy.

Zoriany perform a “Medley of Hutsul Dance and Music”

Zoriany perform a “Medley of Hutsul Dance and Music”. Photo by Carl Kosolka

Maria Barvysh of Zoriany plays violin

Maria Barvysh of Zoriany plays violin. Photo by Carl Kosolka

Zoriany perform a “Medley of Hutsul Dance and Music”

Zoriany perform a “Medley of Hutsul Dance and Music”. Photo by Wasyl Jur

Tryzub president Dan Nysch, stated that “[it was] a testament to the beauty and strength of the Ukrainian spirit and to the value of cooperation among Ukrainians”. He was especially pleased to see Ukrainians and even non-Ukrainians (Club members and festival-goers, respectively) of all generations and immigrations working and celebrating together as one.

Nysch added: “It’s a very special day for us. Just like St. Patrick’s Day where everyone is Irish — today, everyone is Ukrainian.” “We celebrated Freedom. We set off our fireworks – our rich and explosively colorful Ukrainian culture – for the world to see. 

Not everyone at the festival had Ukrainian heritage. Some people came to enjoy the culture, while others, such as Anthony Scriva, came with Ukrainian loved ones: “I come here every year, my wife is Ukrainian. I love Ukraine, I go there every year. The food, the people — everything,” said Scriva, a Three Bridges, N.J., resident.

 Desna performs Hutsul Dance

Desna performs Hutsul Dance. Photo by Carl Kosolka

Desna performs Canadian Country

Desna performs Canadian Country. Photo by Wasyl Jur

Virtuoso-Violinisy Innesa Tymochko-Dekajlo

Virtuoso-Violinisy Innesa Tymochko-Dekajlo. Photo by Wasyl Jur

Zoriany performs The Welcome Dance

Zoriany performs The Welcome Dance. Photo by Wasyl Jur.

A significant non-Ukrainian presence, said M.C. Ms. Husar, accomplished other very important missions: “to showcase our beautiful Ukrainian culture and to heighten peoples’ awareness about Ukraine, its people and their very strategic role in the world.”

Festival goers also had an opportunity to visit an arts and crafts bazaar and to snack on anything from tasty homemade Ukrainian ethnic foods and baked goods to barbecue fare from the grill. After the concert, the Vox Ethnica orchestra played dance music fro a sensational Zabava that lasted well into the evening.