A range of concert halls and orchestras around Europe have offered up their venues and resources so that the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra can complete a tour of Europe. The tour has two main purposes: to create work for the musicians, thus preventing the orchestra from disbanding, and to also raise awareness of Ukrainian culture in the West.
The first concert took place at the Warsaw Philharmonic in Poland on April 21. The program included Maxim Berezovsky's Symphony in C major, the now-famous Melody by Myroslaw Skoryk, and Borys Ljatoschynskyj's Symphony No. 3.
The orchestra's players and their families have been based in Warsaw for the last two weeks after fleeing their hometown, with the men of the orchestra receiving a special exemption from the Ukrainian government to leave the country. With martial law currently in place, the men would usually be required to stay at home for compulsory military service.
The tour will currently contain a second Polish concert in the city of Lodz, plus at least seven stops in Germany. Notably, the German leg will feature a concert at the Berlin Philharmonie, where the orchestra will be joined by violinist Diana Tishchenko for a performance of Chausson's Poème. More concert dates may be added during the tour if the opportunity arises.
"Our concerts are truly a cultural mission," said 22-year-old second violinist Oleksii Pshenychnikov. "In Ukraine, we say there is a ‘cultural front’, meaning it is not escaping from the war, it is another aspect of the war."
"[The players] do not just feel nostalgia for a job, they feel nostalgia for the very reason of their existence, which is music," said the Italian conductor Luigi Gaggero, who has volunteered to conduct the tour. "It is like the air they breathe and they can finally breathe again."