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«We won on the Christmas front»: Oleh Skrypka's big Canadian tour

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

russian invasion. 

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

one day.

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


Valeriia Kolisnyk

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1 Comment

Stanislav Nastenko
Stanislav Nastenko
Nov 19, 2023

A quality report about the event.

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