As Ukraine continues to struggle against the Russian military invasion, we increasingly see heartbreaking images of wartime suffering and destruction. Apartment buildings where people lived their lives less than three weeks ago devastated by bombs, rubble and missiles in the streets and playgrounds where families strolled and children played, hordes of people fleeing with what they could carry, leaving behind all they had known.
The loss, waste and inhumanity of it all is unfathomable, as it is in all wars.
And yet, as in every war, we see glimpses of beauty and connection, the very things that make us human and give hope that we as a species are not doomed by the worst of us. We see love, we see laughter, we see compassion and we see music.
One of the most remarkable things about humans is how we make art no matter what. You would think that when our basic survival is immediately threatened, we wouldn’t care to create beauty or express ourselves artistically, but we do. Everytime. Art is not an addition to life; it is inextricably linked to life itself.
Art is also a way for us to express our solidarity, especially when we feel powerless to stop inhumanity from happening. It’s a way for us to say, “I see you. I’m with you. I recognize your suffering even if I can’t stop it. Let this beauty remind us of what humans are capable of. ‘other side of violence’. and conquest.”
That’s what makes this viral video of violinists around the world performing with a Ukrainian violinist so beautiful.
In the video, Ukrainian violinist Illia Bondarenko plays a beautiful and haunting Ukrainian folk song on her violin from a bomb shelter in Kyiv. At first it’s just him playing solo, but soon he’s joined by nine other young Ukrainian violinists who are also sheltered. Then more and more violinists from different countries join, then more and more, all playing together in harmony.
A total of 94 violinists from 29 countries – whose flags are depicted in the corners of their screens – contribute to what British violinist and organizer Kerenza Peacock has called “an international choir of supporting violins”. They include world-class violinists from the London Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Hollywood Studios and renowned violinists who play different styles of violin from Ireland, Netherlands , New Zealand, Belgium, Georgia, Poland, South Korea, South Africa, Moldova, Denmark, India, Germany, USA and more.
Watch and listen:
According to Classic FM, Bondarenko had to record his part between bombings in order to hear himself play. This detail alone is just heartbreaking. But the musicians play wherever they are, whatever happens.
Bondarenko had shared a video on Instagram on February 25, the day after the Russian invasion, explaining what was happening and how the international music world had already given its support. He wrote:
“Today, when my whole country is fighting for its freedom, for its territory, for the right to BE…, I cannot be silent, but I cannot make a video and record for you. this moment on the internet because I spent most of the night with my grandmother in the basement of the house, helping the elderly neighbors, helping in any way I could. My parents are in another town now. But we , the musicians, we are always here for our people in sorrow and joy! This is how my soul , my country, my Kyiv resonates today. Thank you to everyone who writes and supports me! From Germany , America, France, Italy, Argentina, Switzerland, Poland, Japan, Turkey, Austria and other countries. I am convinced once again that music is the language the most comprehensible in the world for all! Glory to Ukraine!”
Violinist Kerenza Peacock, who organized the collaboration – and brought it together in 48 hours – shared what made this collaboration so moving: “Never before have violinists from so many countries come together. Or collaborated in so many different styles of violin playing Violinists are a community that all have rosin and broken E strings in common, but sadly some currently have to think about how to arm themselves and hide in bomb shelters. -bombs instead of playing Beethoven or bluegrass. guns in hand instead of violins.”
To those who insist on the beauty and humanity of creative expression even in the face of inhuman atrocities, reminding us of who we are and what we are capable of when we focus our energies on creation rather than destruction.
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