Today I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Olga M. Cehelska about the uprisings in Ukraine. She is the bilingual product of a diverse multicultural background. The granddaughter of Lonhyn Cehelsky, (the first delegate from the Western Republic in Ukraine to Washington, DC, 1920) she was born to Ukrainian parents in an Austrian refugee camp, administered by the French government, and came to America at age 3.
Through her involvement with Young Audiences of Virginia, she brought Eastern European history and music to thousands of students through her dynamic one-woman show, Echoes of Ukraine.
Dr. Cehelska is owner-operatior of Bay Breeze Music Studio in Virginia Beach, VA, where she teaches piano, voice, and guitar to students from the age of three to eighty-five. A highly respected music educator, she studied piano, voice, music theory, composition, and music history at Temple University's College of Music. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Music Education. Interested in psychology and the effects of music on human behavior, Dr. Cehelska went on to receive her Master of Music in Music Therapy from the University of Miami's School of Music. While at the university, she won first place in the Graduate Research Award, Southeast Conference, from the National Association of Music Therapy.
Dr Cehelska's research in rhythmic pattern reproduction was published in the Journal of Music Therapy. Well versed in the field of scientific research, she went on to obtain a Master of Science from the American College of Holistic Health, and later her PhD in holistic nutrition from the Clayton College of Natural Health. Ms. Olga often performs in recital on the 67-string Ukrainian national instrument, the bandura.
Meryl Ann Butler: Olga, thanks for making a few moments in your busy schedule to share some details with us about the events in Ukraine.
Ukraine's reality is once again dramatic. I wake up in the morning thinking of those that might have died that past night at the plaza in Kyiv. I think of Serhij Nigoyan and so many others that have been shot, beaten to death, or wounded. Among the wounded and dead are journalists, politicians, medics, musicians, poets, and artists. All are from my ancestral home of Ukraine.
In their fight for European values, Ukrainians are rushing into the breach and giving up their lives. Do they not have some right to expect help, at these difficult times, from countries that have long ago proclaimed the same values for which they are striving. The primordial concept of the plaza in Kyiv, which we call the Maidan was European integration. Subsequently, it morphed into a struggle to oust the criminal and corrupt authorities of Ukraine from power. It became increasingly clear that no Eurointegration would ever be possible with the current deceitful authorities in general, and with the Russian speaking Ukrainian president, in particular. I have long ago stopped capitalizing yanukowych, the name of this dishonorable Putin puppet.
The leaders of the Western world have recently begun talks with members of the opposition, among them my nephew, Oleh Tiahnybok. It was a serious step forward, but still not enough. Why? Because Oleh has been threatened with death should he persist in openly speaking about self-determination and democratic values. Three days ago they warned him of the upcoming "annihilation' of his entire family. My family. It is not for me to say that the democratic West can do more. But Ukraine and her people remain vulnerable. They are exposed to ingenious brutality daily.
As a Ukrainian-American musicologist and historian, I am so very grateful for this opportunity to share a few words on the current situation in Ukraine. If no one listens, then a second or even a third wave of bestial atrocities will be inflicted on the demonstrators in Ukraine, and on my family. Atrocities, that are organized and staged by a scenario of Kremlin puppeteers.
MAB: Thanks, Olga, for sharing your perspective with us on such short notice. As these days continue, I hope we'll have a chance to chat again about this.
OMC: Thank you for your interest in the Ukrainian people's quest for democracy and self-determination!