6 Hope story: the power of music
The Ukrainian rap-folk band Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest on 14 May 2022 with their song Stefania. Stefania is a tribute to mothers, maybe also symbolically to the Motherland. Lead singer Oleh Psiuk said ‘This victory is for every Ukrainian. Slava Ukraini.’
You can watch the video here: Kalush Orchestra - Stefania - Ukraine [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]
The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, conducted by Ukrainian-Canadian Keri-Lynn Wilson, has recently toured Europe, including performances at the BBC Proms in London and the Edinburgh Festival. Its 74 members include refugees, Ukrainians living and working in Europe and musicians living in Ukraine. They started rehearsing together in Warsaw, just two weeks before their tour.
You can watch the Proms concert on the BBC iPlayer BBC Proms 2022: Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra or listen on BBC Sounds BBC Proms 2022: Prom 19a: Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra.
Both Kalush and male members of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra living in Ukraine were given special permission to leave the country to perform, as currently only women and children are allowed to leave. For Yevgen Dovbysh, cellist with the National Odesa Philharmonic, and his wife, violinist Hanna Vikhrova, who left Ukraine with their daughter after the invasion, this was a rare chance to spend time together after five months apart.
Concerts also continue in Ukraine itself, in defiance of the Russian invasion, like this one in Lviv on 22 March 2022.
Cultural events are an important part of the war effort. In the words of Ukrainian President Volodomir Zelensky: ‘Artistic resistance to the Russian invasion is one of the most important, because the seizure of territories begins with the seizure of people’s minds and hearts’.