European leaders have accused Russia of threatening to cut off natural gas supplies to the two countries. Fears are growing that the war could spread beyond Ukraine’s borders after days of explosions in Russia.
The Russian invasion devastated cultural life in Ukraine, forcing the dissolution of popular bands and expelling conductors, composers and players.
Now some of Ukraine’s leading artists, with the help of the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Polish National Opera in Warsaw, are uniting to use music to express their opposition to Russia’s continued attacks. They will form a new band, the Ukrainian Freedom Band, and will tour 11 cities in Europe and the United States in July and August, the orchestra announced this week.
“This is something we can do for our country and for our people,” said Marco Komonko, a Ukrainian violinist who works as a concert teacher for orchestras. “It’s not much, but it’s our job.”
The 75-member band, made up of Ukrainian refugees and musicians from across the country, will appear on July 31 at several European festivals, including the BBC Proms in London. It will be discontinued in Germany. , France, Scotland and the Netherlands, before heading to the United States to perform at the Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center in Washington. Proceeds from the concerts will benefit Ukrainian artists.
The band will be led by Canadian Ukrainian conductor Kerry-Lin Wilson, who came up with the idea for the group and was eager to find a way to help musicians and others in Ukraine.
“We want to show Ukrainian citizens that the free and democratic world supports them,” Wilson said in an interview. “We fight as artists, as musicians. It gives voice to the composers and gives them the emotional strength to go beyond this.
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