Ukrainian Wave Sustaining Cultural Initiative

Years of activity: 2007–2013

New York’s Ukrainian community was built through several distinct waves of immigration dating back to the second half of the nineteenth century, and expanded greatly after WWII with refugees from Displaced Persons camps.  Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the independence of Ukraine in the same year, a large number of multi-generational Ukrainians immigrated to the city, settling primarily in Brooklyn and Queens. Large numbers of Ukrainian Jews also immigrated to the US at the same time, many settling in the Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn. A significant community of Muslim Tatars from Crimea is centered at a mosque/social center on New Utrecht Ave. in Boro Park, Brooklyn.

The Ukrainian Wave Sustaining Cultural Initiative, led by cultural specialists Julian Kytasty (Artistic Director of the New York Bandura Ensemble) and Andriy Milavsky (leader of the Cheres ensemble), was established with the goal of building a common “cultural space” serving community members from the different waves of immigration.



Ukrainian Wave SCI programs included a regular series of concerts the Ukrainian Museum in partnership with the New York Bandura Ensemble; the popular Vechornytsi (Carpathian village dance) series at restaurants in Manhattan’s East Village and Brooklyn, featuring live music with leading dance instructors such as Tamara Chernyakhovska; a Sharing Traditions program at the St. George Academy in the East  Village where young students took lessons in a variety of traditional Ukrainian repertoire and instruments, including sopilka (end-blown flute), clarinet, accordion and violin.

The Ukrainian Women’s Voices program featured a workshop series culminating with a concert that has allowed participants to perform alongside renowned traditional singers such as Mariana Sadowska and Nadia Tarnawsky. The Ukrainian Wave SCI  lives on through Ukrainian Village Voices, a singing group which both performs throughout the city and statewide, and hosts monthly workshops in Ukrainian song.


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Cheres Folk Ensemble

Tamara Chernyakhovska – dancer/dance collector, director of Holubka Dance Ensemble

Brian Cherwick, Ph.D. – ethnomusicologist, tsymbaly (hammered dulcimer) player

Columbia University Teachers College Music and Music Education Department (Professor Lori Custodero, advisor)

Eileen Condon, Ph.D. – CTMD Project Director

Ensemble Hilka

Inka Juslin – Dancer

Julian Kytasty – co-Artistic Director, bandura (harp/lute) player, director of the New York Bandura Ensemble

Ivan Lechicky – bandura (harp/lute) player, member of Promin’ Ukrainian Choir and New York Bandura Ensemble

Andriy Milavsky – co-Artistic Director, clarinetist, sopilka (end-blown flute) player, director of Cheres Folk Ensemble

Andriy Nahachewsky, Ph.D. – dance ethnographer

St. George Academy

Mariana Sadowska – singer, song collector

Maria Sonevytsky, ethnomusicologist, accordionist

Nadia Tarnawsky – singer, song collector

Ukrainian  Museum (Maria Shust, Museum Director and Hanya Krill, Program Director)

Yevhen Yefremov – Kiev-based Ethnomusicologist, Director of the Drevo Ensemble

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