"The Magic of U(SA)"

Macedonian audience had the pleasure of feeling "The Magic of U(SA)" for one night and the honor of welcoming "Christmas in New York" earlier this year, on December 15, thanks to the Macedonian American Alumni Association, during the second annual fundraising concert held at Great Hall of the Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra. It was a night to remember; not even the performance of Duke Ellington's "Solitude" could make this audience feel lonesome or friendless for even a second. And even though "Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, we had our "Love to Keep Us Warm" and made us "Sing, Sing, Sing" at the top of our lungs the "Jingle Bells" tune, letting "New York, New York" and the whole world know that "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." And so much more in the spirit of the forthcoming holidays!

One of the greatest American jazz saxophonist and composer, John Coltrane, once said that “to be a musician is really something, it goes very, very deep. My music is the spiritual expression of what I am - my faith, my knowledge, my being... When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hang-ups”. Hence, no wonder that for the second time MAAA decided to continue its tradition, of not only bringing together all the Macedonian American alumni, the ambassadors, politicians, artists, performers and a huge audience through music and kindness, but also, of diving even deeper into this spiritual meaning of the holiday's essence and doing something good for other people, for the ones in need - to raise money for charity. The 19th century American short story writer, historian, and diplomat Washington Irving pointed out the importance of noble deeds during holiday times as well, saying that "Christmas is the season for kindling the fire for hospitality, the genial flame for charity in one's heart." And indeed, the hearts of the so many people present in the Great Hall of the Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra, which was filled to the last seat, radiated with love, compassion and willingness to help and contribute to the cause. The humanitarian act itself and the humane, noble idea behind this concert made the evening perfect, sending a message that we might make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

The concert night was opened with a short welcome speech by the President of MAAA, Prof. Mišo Dokmanović, who stressed out the importance of continuous cooperation and strengthening of the old bridges and building new ones between the two friendly countries, the USA and the Republic of Macedonia. Traditionally, the annual association award was presented to the MAAA distinguished member, 1978 Fulbright participant, Prof. Biljana Sekulovska Gaber for her decades-long contribution in promoting Macedonian-American friendship and cooperation.

The nearly two hours long concert was an entertainment and complete pleasure to all - from the very beginning, the Macedonian Nat King Cole, Mr. John Ilija Apelgren, the best male jazz vocalist in Macedonia and the Balkans, lit up the atmosphere seductively performing the most famous holiday season melodies, making a perfect blend with the powerful and outstanding performance of the Association of Jazz musicians of Macedonia, Big band, conducted by the overly charismatic and always positive, Emin Dzijan. In addition, when soloing the played tunes, the bands' instrumentalists created a new melodic line to fit the particular songs' chord progression, thus becoming not only the main focus of the audience's attention but also giving the performance an individual and specific aesthetic vision. Graz-based jazz singer, a dear guest and the star of the night, Ms Irina Karamarkovic, immensely contributed in the creation of the magical Christmassy atmosphere as well with her several powerful solo performances, demonstrating an amazing vocal range and specific voice color similar to the one of the great Liza Minnelli's.

It was a captivating, emotional and touching evening; heart-warming and soul-stirring, filled with peace, harmony and friendships old and new, with the ghost of the Christmas past, present and future as from one of Dickens' tales, felt in the air. So, let's have ourselves a merry little Christmas. Let our hearts be light, and from now on, until next year, may our troubles be out of sight!

Written by Tatjana Srceva-Pavlovska


Bulding bridges of cooperation
between the United States and Macedonia