Ukraine Philharmonic performs on 1 year war anniversary

On a Friday night in Kiev, the sounds of the country’s soul take center stage.

One of Ukraine’s most prestigious orchestras rehearses its daring piece inside the historic Mykola Lysenko Column Hall with bow in hand and a tap on the conductor’s wrist.

A pianist prepares and a line of musicians tweaks violins, flutes and French horns while bass drums blaze. Today is not a normal day, so tonight is not a normal night for the orchestra.

The performance was titled “Music of Defiance” and marked the one year anniversary of the Russian invasion, bringing together the Ukrainian National Philharmonic Orchestra to use its own instrument of change.

Half an hour before going on stage, concertmaster and violinist Vadim Borisov soberly said: “Our life is music, our weapon is our music.”

Almost all the musicians of this orchestra fled Ukraine when the war began, and then almost all returned ready to perform. Including violinist Oksana Charbovichuk, who says she’s back to “share our music and our lives with the world.”

“This is our cultural front. We are fighting the violin and the tuba,” points out orchestra manager Larissa Palmiuk.

Braving the stage took on new meaning as dawn dawned 12 months after the day Russia launched its invasion of Kiev.

“They (the orchestra) are a little nervous to play music today. A lot of people are waiting for the bomb to drop,” Parkomiuk told CTV News.

She admits people are worried about bombs landing in concert halls. Warnings are issued weekly that the Kremlin will mark his year out of the war by dropping missiles into the Ukrainian capital.

Concerns are valid. In October, a missile hit the Klitschko Bridge in Kiev, which is very close to the venue. “All the windows were broken,” Perkomiuk said. The concert hall was transformed into an “open-air” stage.

Since being restored, the doors are opened for the watching and listening of the cautious and reserved crowd. The Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance has been shortened to just one hour. He also starts an hour early at 6pm local time to give people enough time to get home before the wartime curfew is in place.

The National Philharmonic Orchestra takes the stage and begins a powerful concert to a standing ovation. Attendees are reminded that music has the power to speak when words fail.

“When I play music, I think about music. Who is Putin?”

The concert doesn’t end with an uplifting sound. The Philharmonic Orchestra chose the song “Cry and Pray” by a Ukrainian Jewish composer to mourn the thousands lost and give strength to those fighting for freedom in Ukraine.

“Our orchestra, our musicians give people hope that we must be strong,” Parkomiuk declared.

Putin may have intended to break the Ukrainian psyche.

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