Tarrytown Music Hall will host an evening of song and solidarity to benefit the citizens of Ukraine who are fighting for their families, their country – and their lives.
The event, held March 27, 2022, at 8:00 p.m., is called “A Show of Caring – A Concert to Benefit Ukraine” – a program of international music performed by distinguished contributors from many genres. Tickets are now available at tickets.tarrytownmusichall.org/eventperformances.asp?evt=2570.
Performers include Ukrainian artists Dr. Irena Portenko on piano, Metropolitan Opera bass Stefan Szkafarowsky, and the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York (recently seen on Saturday Night Live) — plus countertenor Jeffrey Palmer and pianist Svetlana Gorokhovich.
The concert was conceived by Westchester residents Portenko, who is the Director, International Festival Music in the Alps, and a performer at the event, and Tara Framer, Tara Framer Design. Says Framer, “I’ve been deeply distraught by the war being waged on innocent civilians in Ukraine – and I’m sure you’re feeling the same. I found I could not sit idly while thousands of innocent Ukrainians are being displaced, attacked, or murdered. I felt I had to do something… anything… that might help ease the suffering and devastation. And so I’ve collaborated with a Ukrainian musician, Dr. Irena Portenko, to produce a concert to raise funds for humanitarian aid to Ukraine.”
Portenko, named to a “select circle” of pianists by The New York Times, is a sought-after concert pianist, music educator, and arts administrator. Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, Portenko first displayed a talent for the piano at age three, making her debut performing Haydn’s Keyboard Concerto in D Major with the Ukranian National Orchestra at the age of eight. In addition to her solo piano and concerto work, Portenko is the Director of Music in the Alps, an international music festival held in Austria’s Gastein Valley, promoting cross-cultural dialogue and innovation in classical music performance.
Says Portenko, “I will be playing for all who were displaced; who lost their loved ones; for those who are wounded yet wish they could go back to the battlefield; for the volunteers who risk everything to help; for my classmates and friends who left the comfort of their homes to defend their land and families; for my musicians and colleagues whose professional lives have stopped, if only for short while. And, I play for my own family to stay alive.”
Stefan Szkafarowsky was born in New York City and raised in Yonkers by Ukrainian parents Petro and Iwanna Szkafarowsky. He has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington Opera in D.C. and other opera houses within the United States and Canada. He has sung with the Lviv Opera House in Ukraine, Cagliari Opera House in Italy, Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland, Macau Music Festival in China, Theatre Municipal of Sao Paulo Brazil and Theatre Municipal of Chile.
Says Szkafarowsky, “Irena and I met some years ago in Detroit, Michigan when she accompanied me in a concert honoring the great Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko. When the concert was over, I flew back to New York. Years later, Irena reached out to me via social media and since then our paths have crossed musically. So here we are again but this time in a fight for Ukraine. We are fighting for Ukraine in this Music Hall, showing that we care for Ukraine, its people, its children. And you, the audience are part of this fight by coming and supporting this concert. God bless all of you, God bless Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes.”
Jeffrey Palmer, countertenor, was born in San Francisco, California, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Says Palmer, “Music has always played an extremely important role in my life. I’ve been performing since I was a small child and have been fortunate enough to have sung for audiences across North America, Europe, and Asia. Over the past three years, I’ve performed with Irena Portenko on several occasions, including as part of her Music in the Alps Festival.
In early 2020, Irena and I travelled to Ukraine to give concerts in Kyiv and Odessa. The overwhelming warmth of the audiences, the talent and drive of the young musicians, combined with the sheer beauty of the country’s culture and spirit, formed one of the most memorable and moving experiences of my life thus far. When Irena asked me to be a part of this fundraising concert, I couldn’t say “YES!” fast enough. It is a great honor and a privilege to sing in support of the Ukrainian people.”
Svetlana Gorokhovich was born in Russia, in Kazan, then studied in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad). While she received her musical training in Russia, in 1989, she came to the United States with her family by way of Odessa, Ukraine. She has performed in major concert halls of throughout the United States and abroad, including Germany, Holland, Italy and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Currently, Gorokhovich teaches at the Music Conservatory of Westchester. For many years she has performed with Portenko as a piano duo, and has been a performer at the international music festival Music in the Alps. Says Gorokhovich, “All my life I was proud of my Russian heritage. However, since February 24, 2022 — the beginning of the Russian invasion into Ukraine — I felt my whole life change. Now, I feel desperate to help Ukraine. This performance gives me an opportunity to express support and admiration for the courageous and fearless people of Ukraine.”
Performance group Ukrainian Dumka Chorus of New York was formed in New York City in 1949 as a male chorus. The founders sought to preserve and cultivate the rich secular and religious musical heritage of Ukraine. In 1959, Dumka became a mixed chorus.
In the years since, the chorus has performed concerts at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Kennedy Center in Washington DC. The chorus sings at an annual Christmas concert at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, and most recently made an appearance on Saturday Night Live.
In 1988, in honor of the celebration of the Millennium of Ukrainian Christianity, Dumka toured Europe performing sacred music at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Karlsruhe and Munich, Germany and Strasbourg, France. A crowning glory for the Dumka Chorus was a Ukraine tour in 1990 where concerts were performed in Kyiv, Lviv, and Poltava.
Dumka Musical Director and Conductor Vasyl Hrechynsky was born in Ukraine. He studied at the F. Kolessa Music Pedagogic School in Lviv, where he was awarded a teaching diploma in musical instruction and voice. He holds a degree in conducting and choral music from the M. Lysenko Conservatory in Lviv, Ukraine. Vasyl Hrechynsky also completed advanced studies in conducting at the Moscow Conservatory and received a Master of Music degree from Westminster Choir College of Rider University in New Jersey. In addition to being involved as a conductor with many choirs in Lviv, he was also Choirmaster at the Lviv Theater of Opera and Ballet.
“A Show of Caring – A Concert to Benefit Ukraine” is an all-volunteer-organized event, and all proceeds after ticket fees will be donated to charities providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The organizers are especially grateful to Björn Olsson, Executive Director and Karina E. Ringeisen, Theater Manager and the staff and volunteers of the Tarrytown Music Hall for their support.
Ticket prices are $30 for the orchestra and balcony; and $75 for VIP seating in the front rows. To purchase tickets, visit tickets.tarrytownmusichall.org/eventperformances.asp?evt=2570.