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A year since the invasion of Ukraine, music continues to inspire victory

Cellist Karachevtsev Denys is known as 'The Kharkov cellist'
Cellist Karachevtsev Denys is known as 'The Kharkov cellist'

It is nearly a year since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. The progress of events during that tragic conflict has been remarkable, with the Ukrainian side, inspired by Vladimir Zelensky, achieving some notable victories over the last 12 months.

Despite the disruption the war is causing, support for Ukraine remains strong. A recent Eurobarometer poll found that, even amidst the cost of living crisis, 74 percent of European citizens continue to favour supporting Ukraine.

One of the remarkable ways in which Ukraine has built and maintained its support has been the way the country has projected its culture to the rest of the world. And in this music has played an important role.

In the first months of the war a number of videos emerged of Ukrainian musicians continuing to play, even amidst the destruction. Such clips became a viral sensation.

Cellist Denys Karachevtsev plays Bach's Cello Suite No.5 in C minor in the ruins of Kharkiv:

Ukrainian pianist Iryna Manyukina plays the opening of Schubert’s Impromptu in Eb, D899 and Chopin’s Étude Op. 25 No.1 in A flat Major in the ruins of her home in Bila Tserkva:

International musicians joined with Ukrainians to show their solidarity, for example in this remarkable violin project, in which 94 violinists from 29 countries play the Ukrainian folk songVerbovaya Doshchechka (more Ukrainian Folk Music here).

Ukrainian musicians also took their music abroad. In the aftermath of the invasion they formed the ‘Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra,’ stating that ‘The answer to violence is culture.’ They have spread this message with concerts across Europe and in the United States:

Ukraine’s Shchedryk Children Choir, who were rehearsing as the first air-raid sirens sounded in Kyiv, have also, in the words of one 16-year-old chorister made it their business to ‘share Ukraine’s culture and spirit with the world.’

And ex-pat Ukrainian choirs have continued to spread the message, for example in this powerful performance of the Ukrainian and Canadian national anthems by the Hoosli made chorus.

Foreign musicians have also responded. The Ukrainian national anthem has been commonly heard at concerts round the world and there has been increased programming of Ukrainian music, including by significant composers such as Valentin Silvestro. Some musicians, such as Bono and Edge, have shown their solidarity by performing in Ukraine itself:

One year on, despite the many Ukrainian achievements, the path to final victory remains fraught. Whatever the outcome, however, music will continue to play its part in winning hearts and minds to the Ukrainian cause.