I sing, therefore I am.
“A 1919 review of the Ukrainian Republic Choir in the Genevan journal La Patrie Suisse mused that the Ukrainian National Republic established its independence through the motto, ‘I sing, therefore I am.’ Ukraine continues to sing and continues to be.” —Notes from Ukraine (carolofthebells100.org)
How often does an art reviewer from a neutral country declare that a choir’s performance inspired a nation’s victory in their war for independence? That choir performed for the first time in America in Carnegie Hall in 1922, during that war, which ultimately ended in Russia consuming Ukraine into the Soviet Union, though Ukraine had made itself an independent nation, and despite Soviet domination remained a republic to this day. (Ask the UN who were the first signatories to its charter in 1945. One of them was the Soviet Republic of Ukraine, a nation by UN’s definition. Ukraine was the first republic to break away from the Soviet Union, causing the collapse of that Union. It absolutely could not survive without Ukraine.) One hundred years later, on December 4, 2022, Ukraine returned to Carnegie Hall to bring again the power of music during war.
“CULTURE UNDER THREAT” says the website of Notes from Ukraine (carolofthebells100.org), and then, that culture again exerts its centuries-old power to overcome the threat. The website continues, with this inspiring statement:
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022, has purposefully sought to destroy Ukrainian culture as part of its aims. Cultural sites have repeatedly been the target of attacks including works by painter Maria Prymachenko at the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum, the historic home and museum of Ukrainian poet and philosopher Hryhorii Skovoroda in the Kharkiv region, and the Theater of Music and Drama in Mariupol.
Just as in 1922, the Ukrainian National Republic used the soft power of music to preserve and promote Ukraine’s independence, Ukrainian artists today are once again turning to culture to communicate with the world. A 1919 review of the Ukrainian Republic Choir in the Genevan journal La Patrie Suisse mused that the Ukrainian National Republic established its independence through the motto, “I sing, therefore I am.” Ukraine continues to sing and continues to be.