The formed Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra will tour Europe and the United States this summer
In another gesture of solidarity with the victims of the war in Ukraine, the Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera will bring together leading Ukrainian musicians as part of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra for a European and American tour from July 28 to August 20. , with stops in the UK. , France, Germany and the Netherlands, before culminating with concerts in New York and Washington, DC. The tour was organized with the cooperation of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Ministry of Culture.
The orchestra will include recent refugees, Ukrainian members of European orchestras and some of the best musicians from Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Odessa and elsewhere in Ukraine. The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine supports the project by addressing the organizational issues of allowing male musicians to lay down their arms and pick up their instruments in a remarkable display of the power of art on adversity.
The money raised during the tour will be used to support Ukrainian artists. Donations can be made to the Ministry of Culture at https://donate.arts.gov.ua/en
Under the direction of Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson, the orchestra will perform a program including the Seventh Symphony by Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov; Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with Ukrainian virtuoso Anna Fedorova; and either Brahms’ Fourth Symphony or Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony.
Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska, who performs the title role of Turandot at the Met this spring, will also perform Leonore’s great aria “Abscheulicher!” of Beethoven’s Fidelio, a hymn to humanity and peace in the face of violence and cruelty.
The orchestra musicians will gather in Warsaw on July 18 for an intensive rehearsal period led by Maestro Wilson to forge the ensemble, followed by the opening concert in the Polish capital at Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera on July 28. The residency and the opening show are supported by generous funding from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, under the direction of Minister Piotr Glinski. The tour will continue with stops at the BBC Proms on July 31 for a TV performance; Munich on August 1; the Chorégies d’Orange Festival in France on August 2; the Berlin Konzerthaus on August 4; the Edinburgh International Festival on August 6; Snape Maltings in England on August 8; the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Festival on August 11; and the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie on August 13. The orchestra will travel to New York on August 16, with concerts at Lincoln Center on August 18 and 19, followed by the final destination, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, on August 20.
The musicians come from the Kyiv National Opera, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra and the Kharkiv Opera, among other Ukrainian ensembles. Outside of Ukraine, musicians come from ensembles such as the Vienna Tonkunstler Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Belgium and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
The Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera have played a leading role in the cultural world by opposing Russian aggression in Ukraine and expressing their support for the victims of war. The Met was one of the first performing arts organizations to hold a benefit concert for Ukraine, led by its musical director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, on March 14, making headlines around the world. The Polish National Opera welcomes refugees from Ukraine and presents its own benefit concerts in support of its beleaguered neighbour.
In a joint statement, Met Chief Executive Peter Gelb and Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera Director Waldemar Dabrowski said: “Music can be a powerful weapon against oppression. This tour is meant to defend Ukrainian art and its brave artists as they fight for the freedom of their country.”
Maestro Wilson, who grew up in Winnipeg, home to the largest concentration of Ukrainians in North America, originated the idea of forming the orchestra. “I wanted to bring together the best orchestral musicians in Ukraine, from inside and outside their country, in a proud display of artistic unity,” she said. “I look forward to leading these talented musicians across Europe and to the United States. This tour is an expression of love for their homeland and to honor those who have died and suffered so much.”
Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko expressed his gratitude to the Met and Polish Opera. “Culture today is showing a whole new facet. It can also be the ‘soft power’ that helps heal wounds. And not just figuratively,” he said. “This Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra tour can not only help raise funds to support Ukrainian artists, but it will show the world the diversity and uniqueness of Ukrainian music and Ukrainian artists.” He added: “Ukrainian culture is original and deserves to be the center of attention abroad. We thank our international colleagues for producing the tour.
The coming together of orchestras in the face of violence and in the name of peace has a long tradition. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra has its roots in an ensemble founded in Palestine by Bronisław Huberman in the 1930s to help save Jewish musicians in Europe from the Holocaust. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, founded in 1999 by conductor Daniel Barenboim and Palestinian scholar Edward W. Said, brings together musicians from Israel and Arab countries. Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music, long a target of the Taliban, sent ensembles around the world before the country’s recent takeover by the Taliban.
The British concert agency Askonas Holt, one of the world’s leading management agencies, organizes the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra tour. Sarfati Productions are coordinating the concert in France. Sponsors include Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Ford Foundation and United Airlines. The Edinburgh International Festival performance is supported by the Scottish Government. The presentation fee will also help pay for the tour.
Ticket information will be announced later by individual presenters.
UKRAINIAN FREEDOM ORCHESTRA TOUR BIOGRAPHIES
Maestro Keri-Lynn Wilson’s international career as guest conductor spans more than 20 years, conducting some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, and operas in the world’s greatest opera houses, including Covent Garden, the Bavarian State Opera, the Bolshoi Theater and the Vienna State Opera. Next season Ms. Wilson will make her Metropolitan Opera debut conducting Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and will return to Covent Garden to conduct La Traviata. Ms. Wilson’s work has been hailed as “vividly shaped and nuanced” by The New York Times and “elegantly incisive” by The Telegraph. Ms. Wilson received a nomination for Conductor of the Year from the 2020 Opus Klassik Awards for her recording of Rossini’s Sigismondo with the Bayerische Rundfunk.
Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of Verdi’s Aida in 2012, followed by the title role of Puccini’s Tosca, Santuzza in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Abigaille in Verdi’s Nabucco . This season she will sing the title role of Puccini’s Turandot at the Met, Abigaille in Nabucco at Covent Garden, and the title role of Aida in Naples and Verona. Recent performances include Aida, Elisabeth in Don Carlo, Tosca and Abigaille at the National Opera of Ukraine; Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth at the Bavarian State Opera; Leonora in Il Trovatore at La Scala; Tosca in Rome and Barcelona; Abigaille at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and in Hamburg; Leonora in La Forza del Destino at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Covent Garden; and Santuzza in concert with the NDR Radiophilharmonie.
Ukrainian pianist Anna Fedorova has performed with leading ensembles including Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony, Yomiuri Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Netherlands Philharmonic. In 2018, Ms. Fedorova signed with Channel Classics Records and released six albums, including Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the St. Gallen Symphony Orchestra and the duet album Silhouettes with violist Dana Zemtsov. In March, she and Interartists Amsterdam organized a charity concert with members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, cellist Maya Fridman and percussionist Konstantyn Napolov, raising €111,000 in humanitarian aid for victims of the war in Ukraine.
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