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The Russian Samovar restaurant in New York City has hosted a series of summer concerts in support of Ukraine, in order to distance itself from the actions of modern Russia. This year’s opening performance featured opera singer Lyudmila Fisenko, who requested to perform the Ukrainian national anthem. She made a passionate speech, telling the audience that evil cannot win and requesting them to spread the word about Ukraine’s brave people fighting for freedom and territory. Visitors to the concert also danced to Ukrainian music, with many hailing it as a discovery into the talent of Ukraine’s people.
the legendary restaurant ‘Russian Samovar’ organized an anti-war concert
Every summer, Times Square hosts a variety of concerts. People sit down at tables or sit on the parapets – they listen, sing along, and the whole ever-hurrying square seems to slow down for a second. This year, a series of summer concerts opens … the anthem of Ukraine!
A fragile woman in an evening dress and a yellow and blue scarf enters the stage. This is the opera singer Lyudmila Fisenko. She begins with the American national anthem, the audience stand up with their hands over their hearts. And then – the piercing Anthem of Ukraine.
– I am very glad that I can sing here today in support of my country.– says Ludmila. – I she comes from a small village near Poltava. All my relatives still live in Ukraine: my mother, brother and sisters. So this is a mission for me. We must explain to the whole world that evil cannot win! I want the whole world to know about my country, about its brave people who stayed there, who are fighting for their freedom, for their territories. I am happy that I can tell about it in the very center of the world!
“Russian” does not mean “for Russia”
This concert was organized by the Russian Samovar restaurant, legendary for Russian-speaking New York. Back in the 80s of the last century, this institution was opened by Joseph Brodsky, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Roman Kaplan. Since then, it has become a tradition that the cultural emigrant life has always been in full swing in the Russian Samovar. True, since the beginning of the war, everything has changed – people did not want to go to an institution whose name contained the word “Russian”. Then its owners and staff decided to show everyone that they had nothing to do with modern Russia and its actions.
– We have a lot of employees and musicians from Ukraine, and we support them all, we collect money to help their families. One of our girls has a 95-year-old grandmother who has been living in the basement for over a year! When you hear it personally from people who live and experience it, you begin to experience it with them, – comments the owner of the “Russian Samovar” Vlada Von Schatz. – We simply stated our position that we are against the war, that this terrible war concerns us too. My husband is from Ukraine, from Odessa, my children are half Ukrainian, so this war touched us very closely.
The first concert in support of Ukraine was organized by the artists of the Russian Samovar a year ago. And this year we decided to take the stage again – to remind everyone around that the war is not over. Such reminders are very important, says one of the guest artists, as well as well-known New York journalist Budd Mishkin. At the concert he sings songs by Bulat Okudzhava. According to him, many years of work in the news taught me that in order for people not to forget about some problem, they need to talk about it constantly.
– It is very important for me to help Ukraine, I myself have Slavic roots, I learned Russian as an adult, and I feel that this is part of my history too! I work in the news business and I know for sure that now attention is already moving from the war in Ukraine to other topics, he says. – When the war had just begun, all attention was riveted on it, but now we need to talk about it everywhere with a vengeance – so that everyone continues to remember that the horror for Ukrainians has not ended, that Ukrainian families are still suffering!
“Perfect place to remind everyone about the war”
To arrange a concert not just anywhere, but in the heart of New York, the restaurant was helped in the Times Square Alliance organization. Every summer they hold free concerts in Times Square. They liked the first performance in support of Ukraine so much that this time they invited artists to open the summer program.
Times Square Alliance Director of Events and Programs Joe Papa is confident they made the right choice: “It seems to me that Times Square is a kind of crossroads of the world and it’s just the perfect place to show everyone that we still think about the people of Ukraine. The artists seem to remind: we are still here and we are still the voice of the Ukrainian people.”
Artists not only sing, but also dance – gypsy and Ukrainian compositions. The program turns out to be so incendiary that the audience can’t help but dance, and some even throw themselves into a dance. Most of the locals and tourists have never heard Ukrainian music before. Many say that this turned out to be a real discovery for them, and now they will know that Ukrainians are not only very brave, but also very talented people.
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