Kyiv Symphony’s Europe tour as wartime cultural diplomacy

Posted on: May 11, 2022

The Kyiv Symphony Orchestra in front of Ukraine’s parliament building, Verkhovna Rada, in Kyiv.

“After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, the musicians of the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra scattered, sheltering wherever they could,” report Emily Johnson and Lydia Tomkiw in Friday’s (5/6) radio program The World. “Just one month later, the orchestra was mobilizing to go on tour [as] cultural emissaries in a war that is playing out on more than just physical front lines…. Kyiv Symphony spokesperson Liza Sirenko, speaking outside a rehearsal at the National Philharmonic in Warsaw, Poland, [said] … ‘When our government saw that today the cultural front is important, as well as military, we decided to do this tour.’… [In] April and early May, the orchestra performed in world-class venues … in Poland and … Germany.… The tour was named ‘Voice of Ukraine’ … ‘to share and to prove that our culture is unique,’ Sirenko said…. The program [has] featured mostly the work of composers from the region…. The ‘Voice of Ukraine’ tour was just the beginning of Ukraine’s cultural diplomatic efforts. A new orchestra, the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, will also be on tour this summer, starting in July. It will be comprised of members of Ukrainian orchestras and European ensembles, as well as Ukrainian refugee musicians.”