Legacy of Ukrainian Artist Taras Shevchenko to Be Celebrated

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March 9 concert at Pitt will honor influential 19th-century poet, visual artist


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PITTSBURGH—While international political tensions continue in Ukraine, the University of Pittsburgh will host a celebration commemorating 19th-century Ukrainian artist and cultural icon Taras Shevchenko on the 200th anniversary of his birthday. 

The free and public event, titled Taras Shevchenko 200th Anniversary Concert, will be held at 3 p.m. March 9 in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, 650 Schenley Dr., Oakland. The concert is sponsored by Pitt’s Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs and the Ukrainian Nationality Room Committee. 

The event will feature Ukrainian opera singer Oksana Krovytska, a soprano who has performed leading roles with the New York City Opera and was described by The New York Times as “the center of our attention [and] the object of our admiration.” The concert also will feature musician Borys Ostapienko on the bandura, a Ukrainian string instrument. Students will give readings of Shevchenko’s poetry throughout the program. 

“Few men have had a more profound impact on Ukraine than Taras Shevchenko; his contributions to that country are immeasurable. On this occasion, the University of Pittsburgh and the Nationality Rooms will honor an individual who had an unprecedented influence in shaping Ukrainian culture with performances by one of the country’s premiere musicians,” said E. Maxine Bruhns, director of Pitt’s Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs. 

Born in the village of Moryntsi in central Ukraine on March 9, 1814, Taras Shevchenko is widely considered one of the foremost writers of the 19th century and a founder of the modern Ukrainian language. His poetry contributed immensely to the growth of Ukrainian national consciousness and his influence on Ukrainian culture is considered iconic. As a visual artist, he worked with easel painting, etchings, graphic arts, and sculptures. He crafted more than a thousand pieces of art, which have been prominently displayed worldwide. Shevchenko died in 1861. 

Tributes to Shevchenko’s life and career are expansive in Ukraine. The country’s National Opera House, the National University of Kyiv, a central boulevard in Kyiv, and numerous other streets and squares are named in Shevchenko’s honor. 

Pitt’s 29 Nationality Classrooms, which are also used as University classrooms, were designed to represent the culture of ethnic groups that settled in Allegheny County and are supported by these cultural groups and governments. The Ukrainian Classroom was dedicated in 1990. 

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