A string quintet performed to hundreds of residents taking shelter in an underground train station to mark what would have been the first day of Kharkiv Music Fest.
Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the organisers of the annual international classical music festival were determined to bring a slice of the festival to Ukraine’s second-largest city.
The five musicians delivered a ‘concert between explosions’ – as it was dubbed on social media – opening with the Ukrainian national anthem, then playing works by Bach and Dvořák, alongside arrangements of Ukrainian folk songs.
The conductor and artistic director of the Kharkiv festival, Vitali Alekseenok, explained that the chosen music was programmed to highlight the connections between Ukrainian and Western European culture.
“Music can unite,” Alekseenok told The Washington Post. “It’s important now for those who stay in Kharkiv to be united.”
“Music can unite”
Music teacher and violinist Olha Pyshchyta said that performing in the subway sparked a range of emotions, after a month of war.
She said she was angry and tired “but at the concert … we felt unity”. “I, like all Ukrainians, are waiting for victory,” Pyshchyta said.
Fellow violinist Stanislav Kucherenko told The Post that the concert was unlike any other he’d played: “There was at no stage the excitement that usually happens when performing for people but I knew that I was where I should be.”
Kucherenko said music can have a “strong influence on the psycho-emotional state of a person and in the conditions of war it can inspire faith and optimism”.
Kharkiv Music Fest would’ve taken place in the grand hall of the Kharkiv Philharmonic on Saturday 26 March.
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