On the evening of January 20, the Biltmore Cabaret club, located in the center of
Vancouver heard so many Ukrainian melodies that probably the echo of «Shchedryk» and
dozens of voices singing along to the favorite carol will remain in the speakers for a long
time. This is all because Oleh Skrypka, the soloist of the «Vopli Vidoplyasova» band, came
to Canada with the special Christmas program. Together with a team of Canadian-Ukrainian
musicians, they organized a Christmas rave with a patriotic holiday program. Vancouver
was the first out of eleven cities on the tour list. The final concert will be in Toronto, which
will take place on February 4th.
«Vancouver is lucky, we are still fresh here», – Skrypka was joking before the concert,
explaining that every day is scheduled and it's either the road or the concert and vice versa.
There was no chance to see the city except out of the car window this time. The singer
mentioned that he has already visited Canada several times before, organizing huge
fundraising events to collect funds for the Ukrainian army during the war and before the
About fifteen years ago the rock star even had to give a concert in Vancouver, being on
crutches. «Even that didn't stop him from charming the audience and being unsurpassed on stage», – said Iryna Shyroka-Geller, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, and at that time, a journalist for «Ukrainian Vancouver», who covered the singer's concert on the pages of the journal. Iryna says that it was an unforgettable event, and she is happy to see him here again.
In a comment to «Ukrainian Vancouver» Oleh Skrypka said that this Christmas tour was
«born» in Ukraine about five years ago. In 2023, the tradition remained the same and many people gathered in Kyiv to sing Christmas carols to the accompaniment of the National Academic Orchestra of Folk Instruments of Ukraine and to feel the spirit of a true celebration, despite all the pain and despair that is currently holding the country firmly because of the war. Ukrainians still believe in the miracle of Christmas.
«About a year ago, we started talking about doing such a Christmas tour of Canada. It is happening now. The musicians that I’m performing with today are Canadians. It was my
idea to unite us as an international team and go on tour. We have been practicing a lot, we
are all professionals, but we are still worried», – Skrypka shared before the performance: «I
believe that this is a very high and responsible mission. If we have already returned
Christmas to Ukrainians, then we need to promote Christmas not only among Ukrainians in
Canada but also among Canadians here».
This tour has a bigger and higher purpose than just singing and dancing all together. The main message from Mr. Oleh is to remind people about the traditions of the Ukrainian
Christmas carol, St. Nicholas, to return to those traditions that are constantly being taken
away from us. Oleh Skrypka is not just a singer and musician; he is a folk caroler with a
guitar and an accordion in his hands.
The singer also reminded me about the history of the «Shchedryk» song, which has more
than a hundred years of history. The version that appeared at the beginning of the 20th
century in the arrangement of the composer Mykola Leontovych and became the basis of
the well-known carol. It was first performed by the choir of Kyiv University in 1916 under the
direction of Leontovych, later the choir traveled all the way to New York. Already in 1936,
the popular American composer of Ukrainian origin Petro Vilgovsky wrote a few English
texts for the composition «Shchedryk», his English version known as «Carol of the Bells»
became one of the most popular Christmas songs in the world.
«When I lived in Europe around 30 years ago, I heard that everyone carols with our song
but in the English version. No one knew that it was our carol and in Ukraine, people did not
know that it was ours either. Then I did a little research, found out more facts from history
about this song, and already knew that the idea of «Shchedryk» and the Ukrainian
Christmas should be developed», – says Oleh Skrypka: «Just 10 years ago, when you go to
the center of Kyiv, and there are some Santa Clauses, Mickey-Mouses, Gena the crocodiles, and a lot of other old and similar characters in a row. Now I believe that Ukrainians have reclaimed Christmas for themselves. The team of the «Land of Dreams» festival and I have been working for 20 years to return this music to adults and children so that they could know what carols are, the nativity scene, Malanka, and who St. Nicholas is. I made two arrangements of «Shchedryk», one more folk, and the second – rock with «VV». I believe
that it worked in the fact that already this year Ukraine has reclaimed Christmas. We won on
the Christmas front», – Skrypka says.
Not only about the music front.
Nowadays, pretty much no concert takes place without a fundraising component, and this tour is no exception. The musicians will collect money to support the Ukrainian military.
«I believe that this is the key moment. Today, only the Ukrainian army can solve the issue of
war and russian aggressors», – says Oleh.
There was also a fair before the concert, where representatives of the charity organizations-
partners of the event «Maple Hope Foundation», which was formed during theEuromaidan in 2014, and «Ukrainian Blue Yellow» attracted donations by selling a widevariety of handmade items with traditional ornaments, national clothes, jewelry and many wide variety the wide variety Euromaidan,more trinkets, the donation from the sale of which can save someone's life.
The organizers of the event were the company «KAZKA Entertainment», the team leader
Vadym Goreniuk, who is also the director of the «Second Front Ukraine Foundation», said that this is their second tour to Vancouver. A few months ago, they were in the city with the «VIP Ternopil» team and then managed to collect 180 thousand dollars for twelve concerts in eleven cities in Canada. «We only made a tour, but this entire collection was made by the audience who bought tickets, made donations and participated in auctions», – says Vadim and thanks everyone for coming.
The day after Oleg Skrypka's first concert in Vancouver, on the Facebook page of «KAZKA
Entertainment» organizers reported that they managed to collect 10,400 Canadian dollars in
Oleh Skrypka's concert in Vancouver was held with a bang. People enthusiastically sang
along and danced, hugged and were happy that they had the opportunity to hear quality live
Ukrainian music far beyond the borders of their native country. This evening, all the most
famous songs were played: «Spring», «Nese Galya Vodu», «Dances», «Burning Pine» and