Music and Ukraine

In four shocking weeks, scenes of devastation from the war in Ukraine have become the norm of our daily news. I check each morning, in the vain hope that it will somehow have stopped.

Amongst the terror and heartbreak, an occasional glimmer of beauty amongst the rubble comes to light. It seems that the power of music cannot be destroyed. The happiness on this child’s face shines out as she sings Let it go from ‘Frozen’. No wonder it has now been viewed millions of times around the world.

The news that this little girl, Amelia Anisovich, whose singing brought joy to those people sheltering with her in Kyiv, is not only safe in Poland but sang the Ukrainian national anthem in front of a stadium of thousands, was one heart-warming story.

Since the start of the war, I’ve watched Ukrainians singing their national anthem, on tv and social media: from the spontaneous response of a man being interviewed for a news report to the members of the Ukrainian parliament meeting in the first week of the invasion. It appears that the threat to their existence has strengthened feelings of Ukrainian identity and singing the anthem is symbolic of their resilient spirit of resistance.

The threat to their lives has led millions to flee but for those who have stayed, there is little comfort except perhaps from music. I can’t imagine that any musician expects to perform in a bomb shelter but here is violinist, Vera Lytovchenko doing just that.

It was very difficult to play and think about something that wasn’t war. But I decided I must do something. We have become a family in this cellar and when I played they cried. They forget about the war for some moments and think about something else.

Lytovchenko, Guardian News, 7 March 2022.

In solidarity with Ukrainians, violinists from around the world joined another violinist, Illia Bondarenko who is playing here from a bunker in Kyiv.

Musical statements of resistance have sprung up even in ruined cities. Here, cellist Denys Karachevtsev plays Bach amongst the destroyed buildings of Kharkiv with the aim of fundraising for humanitarian aid.

Around the world, musicians from many genres have organised concerts to raise funds for Ukraine and to show their fellow feeling through music. Here’s Endpin Project Cello Choir playing the Ukrainian national anthem (with fundraising links when opened in You Tube).

We can express a depth of feeling through music that is sometimes difficult to put into words. This final clip offers a heartfelt message of hope for the Ukrainian people, in words and music, from Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax.

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