In Kharkiv, Ukraine, musicians perform classical music in a ‘concert between explosions’

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“Music can unite,” said artistic director Vitali Alekseenok. “It is important now that those who remain in Kharkiv are united.”

The original concert would have included a recital by French pianist Lucas Debargue and was to be held on Saturday in the great hall of the Kharkiv Philharmonic.

Instead, the “concert between explosions” – as it was called social networks – began with the Ukrainian national anthem, urging viewers to put their hands on their hearts.

The program included music by Back, Dvorak and other composers, as well as arrangements of Ukrainian folk songs. Hundreds of people of all ages watched, sometimes holding each other.

The program has been tailored to highlight the connections between Ukrainian culture and that of Western Europe, Alekseenok said.

Music teacher and violinist Olha Pyshchyta told the Washington Post on Sunday that performing on the subway had stirred up a series of emotions after a month of war.

She said she was angry – and tired – “but at the concert…we felt the unity.”

“Like all Ukrainians, I’m waiting for victory,” said Pyshchyta.

Fellow violinist Stanislav Kucherenko told the Post that the concert was unlike any other he had played. “There was no onstage excitement that usually happens when you play for people,” he said, but “I knew I was where I needed to be.”

Kucherenko said that music has a “strong influence on a person’s psycho-emotional state” and could, “under war conditions”, help people cope with fear and stress and inspire “the faith and optimism”.

Kharkiv Music Fest, an international classical music festival, was due to start on March 26. In the midst of the war in Ukraine, musicians played in the subway. (Video: Maria Avdeeva via Twitter, Photo: Maria Avdeeva via Twitter)

Kharkiv Music Fest director Sergiy Polituchy said the underground concert showed that “in darkness…there are eternal values ​​and a future in our country”, Sky News reported. The concert proved that “our country is melodious, beautiful, intellectual and will overcome all these difficulties”, he added, according to the report.

The concert was one of a handful of musical moments for Kharkiv since the Russian invasion.

Before the war, Kharkiv was known as the intellectual capital of Ukraine. With more than 30 universities, it was teeming with students and was a well-known scientific and cultural hub. Today, missile strikes have ravaged the 19th-century architectural gems at its center. About half the population, or about 700,000 people, fled, according to the regional administration, and those who remained regularly seek underground shelter from airstrikes.

Last week, Ukrainian cellist Denys Karachevtsev captured worldwide attention as he played a striking figure playing a somber Bach melody through the streets of Kharkiv, surrounded by shattered windows, bombed buildings and rubble.

Karachevtsev published a video on social media to raise awareness of the destruction of Kharkiv as well as funds to restore his hometown.

Working as a volunteer in the daytime war effort to help with evacuations and distribute humanitarian aid, Karachevtsev, 30, told the Washington Post he decided to stay in the city despite heavy shelling to support residents. of his hometown and cheer them up. He said the music encouraged people “to keep fighting.”

Last month, as Russian troops closed in on Kharkiv and people tried to flee, a young boy sat down in front of a shiny white piano in a hotel lobby and started playing.

A video of him captured by a Post correspondent has gone viral online, catching the world’s attention, including composers Philip Glass and Paul Leonard-Morgan, who said they never imagined their music would become the band -sound evocative of a war.

Elsewhere, a video of 7-year-old Ukrainian girl Amelia Anisovych singing “Let It Go” from the Disney film “Frozen” inside a bomb shelter in Kyiv catapulted her to fame. Anisovych first sang to Ukrainians crammed into a dimly lit bomb shelter in Kyiv.

Like millions of others, she has since fled to Poland. Amelia performed the Ukrainian national anthem at an event this month to raise funds for those fleeing war.

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