Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra’s 2023 Tour

The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra – courtesy Metropolitan Opera

Conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson and the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra celebrate the first anniversary of the Orchestra’s founding with a 2023 tour which takes in performances in Warsaw, Gdansk, Berlin, Lucerne, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Snape and London. As The Globe and Mail writes: “The Russian Forces are no match for the power of Ukraine’s cultural legacy”.

The Orchestra, created under the auspices of the Polish National Opera, in coordination with the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture and the Metropolitan Opera, is led by its founding conductor and music director, Keri-Lynn Wilson. Maestro Wilson received the Opus Klassik 2020 Conductor of the Year award and has led some of the world’s leading orchestras, such as the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Bruckner Orchestra Linz, and NHK Symphony Orchestra. She has also appeared at the world’s most prestigious opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Bavarian State Opera, Paris Opera, and Vienna State Opera.

Excerpt from Dvořák’s ‘New World Symphony’ from the 2022 tour

The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra is composed of leading Ukrainian musicians from ensembles within the country – such as the Kyiv National Opera, Odesa Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra and Kharkiv Opera – together with recent refugees and Ukrainian members of European orchestras – such as the Tonkunstler Orchestra of Vienna, Belgian National Orchestra and Staatskapelle Berlin. Now under the patronage of Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra was formed to defend the cultural legacy of Ukraine, and undertook its inaugural tour of Europe and the United States last summer.

Ukrainian violinist Valeriy Sokolov – courtesy Askonas Holt

The featured soloist in this programme is Ukrainian violinist Valeriy Sokolov, who frequently performs with some of the most illustrious conductors, and regularly appears in major concert halls with orchestras such as the Philharmonia Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Cleveland Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony and Orchestre de Paris. This past season he has performed with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic and the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic, and was Artist in Residence with the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini in Parma.

The first part of the tour programme opens with Verdi’s Overture to La forza del destino. This dramatic opera, woven around the themes of fate, life and love, premiered in November 1862 at the Bolshoi Theatre in St Petersburg. It is followed by Yevhen Stankovych’s Violin Concerto No 2. One of the most prolific of contemporary Ukrainian composers, Mr Stankovych is creator of six symphonies and several symphonic works. The Orchestra then plays Melody – a sad, but beautiful piece, by the late Ukrainian composer, conductor and musicologist Myroslav Skoryk whose inspiration was mainly drawn from Ukrainian folklore.

After interval, the opening concert of the tour in Warsaw features Beethoven’s Symphony No 9, Ode to Joy, with soloists Olga Kulchynska, Nicole Chirka, Dmytro Popov, and Vladyslav Buialskyi and the Chorus of the Polish Białystok Opera. At all other concerts, the Orchestra will play Beethoven’s Symphony No 3, Eroica.

Keri-Lynn Wilson leads the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra in the following performances:

August 20: Teatr Wielki, Warsaw 
August 22: Polish Baltic F Chopin Philharmonic in Gdansk – time and tickets to be announced

August 24: Kastellanwiese at Schloss Schönhausen in Berlin. This will be a special outdoor concert to celebrate Ukrainian Independence Day.

August 27: The Lucerne Festival, Switzerland  (Myroslav Skoryk’s Melody is omitted and there is no interval)

August 28: Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam

August 30: Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg

September 2: Snape Maltings, Snape, UK 

September 3: The Barbican, London 

Information sourced from:

Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra programme notes

Valeriy Sokolov

Yevhen Stankovych

Myroslav Skoryk

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