The new collaboration of Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra will be touring across Europe and the United States to perform their music against the Russian invasion. Many conductors, composers, and players escaped from the war. With support from the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Polish National Opera in Warsaw, Ukrainian artists are able to come together to express their emotions through music. They will be traveling to 11 different cities.
Ukrainian violinist Marko Komonko said, “This is something we can do for our country and for our people. It’s not much, but this is our job.”
The orchestra consists of 75 musicians. One of the larger events they will be attending is BBC Proms in London. Canadian Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson was the one who came up with the idea of bringing Ukrainian artists together. He said, “We want to show the embattled citizens of Ukraine that a free and democratic world supports them. We are fighting as artistic soldiers, soldiers of music. This gives the musicians a voice and the emotional strength to get through this.”
Wilson’s husband, Peter Gelb, felt it was important for musicians to speak up about the war. The Met in New York announced that they would not be involved with performers coming from Russia. Last month, they opened up a concert to support Ukraine. They lifted banners of the Ukrainian flag with blue and yellow floodlights. Gelb stresses, “It’s about saving humanity. The Met, as the largest performing arts company in the United States and one of the leading companies in the world, clearly has a role to play and we’ve been playing it.”
Some works that will be performed include Valentin Silvestrov’s Seventh Symphony, Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring the Ukrainian pianist Anna Fedorova, Brahms’s Fourth Symphony, and Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony. The musicians come from the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kyiv National Opera and the Kharkiv Opera.
Komonko said that music is a good distraction from the violence. He said, “When you live through all of this, you look at music differently, through different lenses. It takes my mind off the war. It allows people to keep living.”