The glorious Lviv Opera House hosted a long-awaited concert gala on February 17, 2016 featuring the legendary Ukrainian-American singer Erko (Severin Palydowycz). The welcoming banner at the Opera House’s façade and the large crowd of elegantly dressed fans at the theatre’s entrance attested to this event. It was a moment that Erko had waited for his entire life. “My Whole Life,” (this is the name of one of his many beautiful songs).
Erko spent his childhood in the background of the theatre, where his father was the principal conductor, and his mother was a dancer. The dream to return one day and perform on this very stage has never left him. And his dream eventually came true!
Although Severin Palydowycz was born in Ukraine’s Lviv region, most of his life he has lived in the U.S. In the early 1940’s, the family of young Severin was placed in German concentration camp. After World War II they spent some time living in Europe. They then moved to the U. S., where Erko graduated from high school and college. At first he taught in high school, and then later he became the director. He always liked sports, and was always really good at soccer and skiing.
When he retired, he began to realize his long held dream –being a singer/songwriter. Music became the most important part of his life, specifically his original songs and bard-style songs, as Erko’s repertoire includes a lot of Ukrainian popular songs and folk music. To hear Erko sing a song, even once, one can never forget his voice quality and the melody.
Erko himself says that he tries to perform romantic songs that capture the heart. “It’s very important that the lyrics are good. I’m convinced that women listen more to the words, and men are more captivated by the music, the melody. Keeping this in mind, I work on trying to please both,” says Erko. “I’m grateful that people listen to my songs, and at the same time I’m surprised that my work has become so popular, especially in Ukraine. For me, it’s a very unexpected honor.
The first time Erko returned to Ukraine, after a long time away, was in 1991. It was not possible to visit earlier, because in New York, he headed the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, where he organized and coordinated large demonstrations against the Soviet Union.
During this time, Erko took to downhill skiing, something that he still does to this day. He even has a home in Hunter Mountains, New York, a skiing region in the eastern U.S., and an area that for him, resembles the Carpathian Mountains. He was elected president of the prestigious Carpathian Ski Club (known by its Ukrainian acronym, “KLK”), which was established in 1924 in Lviv.
One of his many famous songs is called: “If I Had the Power of a Warlock,” they say that he really does have the power, because everything Erko touches he turns to gold.
Going back to his songs… Among them, Erko performs songs that are like fern flowers. In some of them, Erko breathes renewed life. “I collected these songs, like flowers… and like flowers I present them to you.” They include, “Talk to Me in Ukrainian,” “My Friends,” “Immigrant,” “White Lilies,” and many other songs that live in our heart and soul forever.
A lot of his songs are dedicated to his beloved wife Olia, who was always his muse. She inspired and supported him, and gave birth to their beautiful daughter, Volodymira, and a son Severin-Bohdan. (Chornomortsi later gave him the pseudonym “Eri”.) Eri, is a wonderful surgeon-ophthalmologist, and like his father, he is very generous and kind. Every year he travels to Lviv, where he performs dozens of eye operations without any charges to the people in need. He also donates surgical equipment to the city’s hospitals.
Erko is very proud of his grandchildren, as they continue the tradition started by their grandfather. Every Sunday, Erko influences his children and his grandchildren to attend the Ukrainian School, even though it was not so close to where they lived. Not so long ago, Erko’s son and his wife Silvana gave the lucky grandfather two more grandchildren, beautiful twins: Joanna and Alexander.
Every new disc released by Erko is a beautiful gift for his close friends and multiple fans. This is an opportunity for people around the world to enjoy the beautiful Ukrainian music culture, which is brought to the world by the most talented singer. Each of Erko’s discs is labeled “Thanks to God!” He thanks God for his life, his voice, for his soul, which he contributes to his friends and those close to him.
Erko released eight albums so far, and he continues to do so productively. His friends can never get enough of his beautiful music, and this is exactly what happened with “Povstanskiy tango.” Ambassador, Yuriy Sergeyev, have heard this masterpiece and it instantly became his favorite. Sergeev is not only one of the biggest fans, but also a longtime friend of Erko, who inspired the creation of his new album “Heart.” Behind each album is a genuine gratitude for all involved in the process of the album release. Dozens of singers, musicians and Erko’s friends helped create the new album “Heart.”
It will take time for Ukraine to gain back its peace. But Erko’s songs express the true soul of the country, united in friendship with United States, two great nations, always together, Ukraine and U.S.A., in harmony and in love.
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