Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra opens European tour in Warsaw

The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra is set to kick off an international tour with a concert at Warsaw’s National Opera on Sunday.

Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra

Ukrainian Freedom OrchestraPolish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage/

The concert includes the overture to Verdi’s opera The Force of Destiny, the Second Violin Concerto by Ukrainian composer Yevhen Stankovych, with Ukraine’s Valeriy Sokolov as the soloist, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with Ukrainian soloists and the Ode to Joy sung in Ukrainian by the Chorus of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic from the northeastern Polish city of Białystok.

The 74-member Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra brings together musicians from across the country. Some of its male members have received special permission from the Ukrainian government to serve their nation through their music. The orchestra also includes Ukrainian refugee musicians and Ukrainian members of European orchestras.

Keri-Lynn Wilson, the Canadian conductor of Ukrainian descent who helped found the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra and is its music director, told the media: “As Ukraine continues its brave fight on behalf of the free world, it needs our support now more than ever. I’m proud to join the brave musicians of the orchestra once again as we defend Ukraine’s cultural legacy. We will not rest until the war is won.”

’Music will speak to silence aggression’: Ukrainian first lady

Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska has described the orchestra as the musical voice of Ukraine.

“Universal and understandable without translation, music is a language we can use to speak to the world,” she said. „I invite you to attend the concerts of the 2023 Summer Freedom Tour to hear the timeless message of liberty contained in the eternal classics of their programme. Music will speak to silence aggression.”

Founded last year, the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra is a joint project between the Polish National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

From Warsaw, the orchestra will go on a tour including Gdańsk in northern Poland, the German capital Berlin, Switzerland’s Lucerne, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and Hamburg in Germany.

The musicians will also perform at Snape Maltings Concert Hall in the east of England and at London’s Barbican Hall.

In all these venues, apart from the Berlin concert on August 24, which is Ukraine’s Independence Day, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony will be replaced by the composer’s Third Symphony.

The tour is managed by the Polish National Opera, with Askonas Holt, one of the world’s leading management agencies, acting as the booking agency. Money raised from the tour will go to support Ukrainian music.

Last year’s tour by the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, which included the Kennedy Center in Washington, in addition to prestigious European concert halls, attracted critical acclaim and rapturous audience reactions as well as unprecedented media coverage.


Radio Poland

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