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Gratitude for Ukrainian Benefit Concert

My wife Ksenia and I had the opportunity to attend the recent LOTUS Project’s “O Vos Omnes” performance in support of Ukraine at Saint Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Trenton, New Jersey. This concert was not only beautiful music in a beautiful space, but a beautiful event where many people from the area came to support Ukraine – and also the Arts in Trenton.

Drew Skitko and Ksenia Stetsenko-Skitko

This concert was especially meaningful for us, because Ksenia is from Ukraine, and I am the cantor and music director at St. Mary’s. The Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Church and our parishioners of Carpatho-Rusyn descent have deep roots in areas that include present-day Ukraine, and so for my wife and I, we were very thankful to see such tremendous support from the community for Ukraine and the relief efforts to help the country during this unjust war.

Both being musicians who work with Ukrainian composers, Ksenia and I were pleased to see Ukrainian music represented on the program (including a work by Ksenia’s great-grandfather, Kyrylo Stetsenko, who is well-known for his sacred and secular compositions, as well as music by his colleague and friend, Mykola Lysenko, who is regarded as the founder of the national movement in Ukrainian music.). The pairing of these Ukrainian pieces with “Requiem for the Homeless” by Frank La Rocca was also interesting, given the composer’s Ukrainian heritage and family ties to Trenton. We are very thankful and excited that ensembles like The LOTUS Project are now sharing Ukrainian music, which is needed now more than ever as Russia continues to attempt to destroy Ukrainian identity.

“O Vos Omnes” was a thoughtful and interesting concert presented by The LOTUS Project. It brought together the Trenton community – people with and without Ukrainian roots – to support a major humanitarian effort to support those directly affected by the war in Ukraine. Their concert makes it clear that Art and Music are most definitely needed in such difficult times, and that it has the power to bring people together in forming support through community.

With deep thanks for your support of Ukraine and musical appreciation for your work,

Andrew Skitko & Ksenia Stetsenko-Skitko


An additional note from audience member, Jaroslava:

"The Requiem- magnificent! First the composition itself and then the way the singers handled it. Wonderful blend, freedom of voices and even bodily movement- they were singing from the heart! I could relax and bask in the glory, listen to and watch mature musicians handle complex dissonances. I had to control the sobs that welled up, especially during the Offertory. (I was the lady who stood up in the back to give a standing ovation.)

There were spots where the first sopranos had to hit particularly high notes and they nailed them- controlled pure sound as if a boy soprano were hitting them. What a privilege to hear such good singing! I had been part of a Madrigal choir when I was an undergrad, so it was so nice to see young singers again and 'remember.'"

Jaroslava (aka Lala Lonchyna)

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