The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra will tour with stops in Europe and Britain to support the war effort

NEW YORK (AP) — The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra will be touring for the second consecutive summer, appearing in eight cities across Europe and Britain to support the country’s war effort against Russia.

Keri-Lynn Wilson, the Canadian-Ukrainian wife of Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb, will lead the tour, which runs from August 20 to September 3 and will be produced by the Met and Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera. The August 24 concert at Schönhausen Palace in Berlin coincides with Ukraine’s Independence Day and will be a free outdoor show.

“Putin and the Russian propaganda machine have a kind of militarized culture and it’s very important for Ukraine to mount its own cultural defense,” Gelb said Friday, referring to the Russian president. “Ukrainians need to be supported. They have been beaten and their morale needs to be lifted.

The musicians include members of the Kyiv National Opera, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra and the Kharkiv Opera. Wilson said all but a dozen of the 74 musicians are survivors of last summer.

“One of the members is pregnant; she cannot participate in the tour. Others have worked in different jobs that conflict,” Wilson said. “Some we approached last year who weren’t available because they were drafted for war, we wanted to bring them in this year.”

The core of the orchestra lives in Ukraine. Four or five musicians have found places in orchestras elsewhere in Europe. The lead second violinist lost a brother during the war, Wilson said.

The tour opens August 20 in Warsaw and includes stops in Gdansk, Poland (August 22), Lucerne, Switzerland (August 27), Amsterdam (August 28), Hamburg, Germany (August 30), Rogue, England (2 September) and London (September 3). It’s slightly shorter than last year’s tour, which started in Europe and ended in New York and Washington, D.C.

The Warsaw concert features Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Other programs include Verdi’s overture to ‘La Forza del Destino’, Yevhen Stankovych’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with soloist Valeriy Sokolov, Myroslav Skoryk’s ‘Melody’ and Beethoven’s Third Symphony.

The opening with “Forza” is meant to be symbolic.

“It’s a wake-up call I’d like to send out to the western world,” Wilson said. “It is our message to continue to fight this war, to galvanize the Western world that we must stick together.”

Leave a Comment