Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra

Inaugural concert of the Ukrainian Freedom Tour of Europe and the United States

The concert is going to be broadcast live and retransmitted on 31 July by arte.tv. This may include shots of the audience at times.

PROGRAMME:

Valentin Silvestrov
Symphony No. 7 

Fryderyk Chopin
Piano Concerto No. 2 

Ludwig van Beethoven
Fidelio, Leonora’s aria Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin?

Johannes Brahms
Symphony No. 4 

PERFORMERS:

Keri-Lynn Wilson conductor
Liudmyla Monastyrska soprano
Anna Fedorova piano

Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra
The musicians are drawn from the Kyiv National Opera, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra, and Kharkiv Opera, among other Ukrainian ensembles. Outside of Ukraine, players come from ensembles including the Tonkunstler Orchestra of Vienna, the Belgian National Orchestra, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra FULL ROSTER

In a gesture of solidarity with the victims of the war in Ukraine, the Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera will assemble leading Ukrainian musicians into the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra for a European and American tour July 28–August 20, including stops in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, before culminating with concerts in New York and Washington, DC.

The orchestra will include recent refugees, Ukrainian members of European orchestras, and some of the top musicians of Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and elsewhere in Ukraine. The Ukraine Ministry of Culture is granting a special exemption to military-age, male members of orchestras inside the country to participate, allowing them to put down weapons and take up their instruments in a remarkable demonstration of the power of art over adversity.

Money raised from the tour will go to the ministry to support Ukrainian artists. Donations can be made to the Ministry of Culture donate.arts.gov.ua. 


Under the leadership of Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson, the orchestra will perform a program that includes Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov’s Seventh Symphony; Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with Ukrainian virtuoso Anna Fedorova; and either Brahms’s Fourth Symphony or Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony. 


Leading Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska, who is singing the title role of Turandot at the Met this spring, will also perform Leonore’s great aria ‘Abscheulicher!’ from Beethoven’s Fidelio, a paean to humanity and peace in the face of violence and cruelty.

The orchestra’s 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 the Teatr Wielki–Polish National Opera on July 28 (TICKETS GO ON SALE ON 23 MAY). The residency and opening performance are being paid for by generous funding from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, under the leadership of Minister Piotr Glinski. The tour will proceed with stops at the BBC Proms, on July 31, for a televised performance; Munich on August 1; the Chorégies d’Orange Festival in France on August 2; the Berlin Konzerthaus on August 4; the Edinburgh Festival on August 6; Snape Maltings 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 are drawn from the Kyiv National Opera, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra, and Kharkiv Opera, among other Ukrainian ensembles. Outside of Ukraine, players come from ensembles including the Tonkunstler Orchestra of Vienna, the Belgian National Orchestra, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

The Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera have played leading roles in the cultural world in standing up to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and in expressing support for the war’s victims. The Met was one of the first performing arts organizations to hold a benefit concert for Ukraine, conducted by its music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, on March 14, drawing headlines worldwide. The Polish National Opera has been harboring refugees from Ukraine and presenting its own benefit concerts in support of its beleaguered neighbor.

In a joint statement, Peter Gelb, the Met’s General Manager, and Waldemar Dabrowski, the director of the Teatr Wielki–Polish National Opera, 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 of the largest concentration of Ukrainians in North America, originated the idea of forming the orchestra. ‘I wanted to bring the best orchestral musicians of Ukraine together, from both inside and outside of their country, in a proud display of artistic unity,’ she said. ‘I look forward to leading these gifted musicians across Europe and to the United States. This tour is in an expression of love for their homeland and to honor those who have died and have suffered so much.’

Ukraine’s minister of culture, Oleksandr Tkachenko, expressed his appreciation to the Met and Polish Opera. ‘Today, culture is showing a completely new side. It can also be the soft power that helps heal wounds. And not only in a figurative sense,’ he said. ‘This tour of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra can help not only to raise funds for supporting Ukrainian artists, it will show the world the diversity and uniqueness of Ukrainian music and Ukrainian performers.’ He added, ‘Ukrainian culture is original and deserves to be at the center of attention abroad. We thank our international colleagues for producing the tour.’

The assembling 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 rescue Jewish musicians in Europe from the Holocaust. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, founded in 1999 by the conductor Daniel Barenboim and the Palestinian scholar Edward W. Said, brings together musicians from Israel and Arab nations. The Afghanistan National Institute of Music, long a target of the Taliban, had sent ensembles out into the world before the recent Taliban takeover of the country.

The UK concert agency Askonas Holt, one of the world’s leading management agencies, is organizing the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra tour. Sponsors include Bloomberg, the Ford Foundation, and United Airlines. Presenter fees will also help pay for the tour.

Information about tickets will be announced later by individual presenters.

  • ,

    Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine

    Today, Ukraine is resisting brutal Russian aggression, fighting not only for its freedom and sovereignty, but also for democratic values, rights and freedoms of people all over the world.

    Russia has launched a war of extermination against the Ukrainian people. It wants to destroy everyone who calls himself or herself Ukrainian, to erase everything Ukrainian. This purposeful policy of genocide by the leadership of the Russian Federation can be fully tracked in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, where the Russian occupiers burn Ukrainian books and punish for flying Ukrainian flags.

    But our state will definitely win. Because next to the heroic Ukrainian army, the entire Ukrainian people oppose the aggressor. Everyone in their place is bringing victory closer in their part of the front: in the military, diplomatic, humanitarian, informational and, of course, cultural fields. And artistic resistance to the Russian invasion is one of the most important, because the seizure of territories begins with the seizure of people’s minds and hearts.

    Music can be a powerful weapon against invaders. That is why the initiative of the Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera, which gathered the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, is so important. The Orchestra includes the best musicians who perform both in Ukraine and outside of Ukraine.

    This summer, the orchestra will have a European and American tour to raise funds to support Ukrainian artists affected by the Russian war.

    The concerts will be dedicated to those who are currently fighting against the enemy, who gave their lives for Ukraine, as well as to the innocent victims of this terrible war.

    This tour will allow the world to become more familiar with Ukrainian culture, its identity, and consolidate Ukrainian art in the world cultural context.

    I would like to thank General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera Peter Gelb and Director of the Teatr Wielki–Polish National Opera Waldemar Dąbrowski, as well as all the musicians who joined this project. Ukrainian art is the art of being brave in the face of the enemy and winning.

    We will definitely win!

    Glory to Ukraine!

  • ,

    Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera

    Keri-Lynn Wilson, the founding conductor of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, also happens to be my wife. Keri-Lynn grew up in Winnipeg. Her great-grandparents, Pyotr and Oksana Olnyck, were part of the wave of Ukrainian migrants who settled in the plains of Canada in the early 1900s.

    In March of this year, Keri-Lynn was supposed to be guest-conducting in Odesa. But with her concerts canceled because of the war, she joined me in London where we watched in horror as the brutal invasion and bombardment continued to unfold. Seeing the endless river of refugees forced to flee their homeland, Keri-Lynn was stirred to raise her baton in defense of her ancestral homeland. It was her idea to form the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra and my duty to see it through. Keri-Lynn wanted to demonstrate the power of music in the time of war and to raise the morale of the Ukrainian artistic community and its embattled citizens. I am proud to have helped her dream become reality. Together with the Polish National Opera and its visionary leader, Waldemar Dąbrowski, the Met has provided the infrastructure to support the creation of the orchestra, whose members hail from cities across Ukraine, as well as recently arrived refugees and members of the Ukrainian musical diaspora of Europe.

    From the beginning of the invasion, the Met has taken action to support Ukraine, first by immediately cutting its ties with Putin-supported institutions and artists. Within several days of the invasion, we performed the Ukrainian National Anthem to start the second half of our season. A few weeks later, we performed a special concert for Ukraine, featuring some of opera’s most beloved stars, that was broadcast live on Ukrainian public radio. We engaged the leading Ukrainian soprano, Liudmyla Monastyrska, to sing the title role of Turandot. For her curtain call, Liudmyla wrapped herself in a Ukrainian flag for the whole world to see. Tonight, I am glad that audiences will hear Lyudmila sing the “Abscheulicher!” aria, Beethoven’s paean against oppression from his opera Fidelio. I sure hope Putin is listening.

    With the backing of the governments of Ukraine and Poland, the U.K. touring agency Askonas Holt, and our tour sponsors, this inspirational orchestra and its historic tour across Europe, New York, and Washington, is now launched. I salute these brave musicians and our soloists, Liudmyla and her Ukrainian compatriot, the pianist Anna Fedorova. And I join Keri-Lynn in shouting out those triumphant words heard round the world,
    Slava Ukraini!

    Photo: Karpati&Zarewicz

  • Honorary Patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda

  • Organizers

  • Co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland

  • Partners

  • Tour organizer

  • Tour sponsors

  • Logo Ann Ziff
  • Partner of the reception

Sponsors

  • Patrons of the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Partners of the Opera Academy

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Media patrons