Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra to regroup this summer for a tour of major European festivals and cities
- August concert dates include London’s Barbican, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, Switzerland’s Lucerne Festival, a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Warsaw, and a special outdoor concert in Berlin on August 24, Ukrainian Independence Day
- Under the patronage of Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, the UFO defends Ukraine’s artistic legacy on the cultural front
New York, NY (June 9, 2023)—Following its acclaimed 2022 inaugural tour of Europe and the United States, the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, conducted by its Canadian Ukrainian music director, Keri-Lynn Wilson, will regroup this August for a tour of major European festivals and cities in a continuing demonstration of Ukrainian artistry as the nation fights for its freedom. The 74-piece orchestra includes Ukrainian musicians from across the country, some of the male members having received special permission from the Ukrainian government to serve their nation through their music, as well as Ukrainian refugee musicians and Ukrainian members of European orchestras. Ukrainian violinist Valeriy Sokolov will be the soloist.
Now under the patronage of Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, the orchestra will once again assemble in Warsaw under the auspices of the Polish National Opera, in coordination with the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture and the Metropolitan Opera. The tour will begin at the Polish National Opera with a performance of the Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, featuring the Chorus of the Polish Białystok Opera and Ukrainian solists Olga Kulchynska (soprano), Nicole Chirka (mezzo-soprano), Dmytro Popov (tenor), Vladyslav Buialskyi (bass-baritone). The rest of the tour will feature a program that includes Ukrainian composer Yevhen Stankovych’s Second Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s Third Symphony, “Eroica.” A major highlight of the tour will be a free outdoor concert in the grounds of the Schönhausen Palace in Berlin on August 24, Ukrainian Independence Day, with an audience in the thousands expected to attend.
The orchestra’s musicians are drawn from the Kyiv National Opera, Odesa Philharmonic Orchestra, 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, Belgian National Orchestra, and Staatskapelle Berlin. Once again, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine is supporting the project by addressing the organizational issues of allowing male members of the orchestra to leave the country and to deploy their musical excellence as part of the wider war effort in a remarkable demonstration of the power of art over adversity.
“The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra is the musical voice of Ukraine. Universal and understandable without translation, music is a language we can use to speak to the world. I invite you to attend the concerts of the UFO 2023 Summer Freedom Tour to hear the timeless message of liberty contained in the eternal classics of their program. Music will speak to silence aggression,” said First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska.
Founding conductor and music director of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra Keri-Lynn Wilson said, “As Ukraine continues its brave fight on behalf of the free world, it needs our support now more than ever. And with this summer’s freedom tour of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, I’m proud to join the brave musicians of the Orchestra once again as we defend Ukraine’s cultural legacy. We will not rest until the war is won.”
The Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera—under the leadership of General Manager Peter Gelb in New York and Waldemar Dąbrowski, director of the PNO, in Warsaw—are proud to have founded and facilitated the orchestra last year and are delighted to again support the orchestra in its 2023 tour. Both the Met and the PNO continue to play leading roles in the cultural world in standing up to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and in expressing support for the war’s victims. Both organizations extend their gratitude to the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage for its generous funding of the rehearsal period in Warsaw as well as the concerts in Warsaw and Gdansk.
The 2022 inaugural Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra tour was one of the most significant cultural events of last year. The orchestra attracted critical acclaim and rapturous audience reactions as well as almost unprecedented media coverage for an orchestral tour of this type. Three of the 13 concerts were broadcast on television—by the BBC from the Proms, Arte from Warsaw, and PBS from the Kennedy Center—and concerts in France and Germany were broadcast on radio. The orchestra’s journey was followed in a prime-time BBC documentary, presented by Clive Myrie, and there was extensive feature coverage in newspapers all over the world including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Times, Le Monde, Die Welt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and many others. Television news coverage of the orchestra included NBC Nightly News, CNN, the BBC, NOS, and more.
The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra Tour is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra tour is managed by the Polish National Opera in association with Askonas Holt, one of the world’s leading agencies. Money raised from the tour will go to support Ukrainian artists. Donations can be made to the Ministry of Culture at restore.mkip.gov.ua.
Maestro Keri-Lynn Wilson is the founding conductor and music director of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra. Her international career includes performances with leading orchestras, such as the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Bruckner Orchestra Linz, and NHK Symphony Orchestra, and conducting at the world’s most prestigious opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Bavarian State Opera, Paris Opera, and Vienna State Opera. She received a nomination for Conductor of the Year from the Opus Klassik 2020 Awards for her recording of Rossini’s Sigismondo with the Bayerische Rundfunk.
The Ukrainian violinist Valeriy Sokolov, winner of the George Enescu International Violin Competition in Bucharest, is one of the outstanding artists of his generation. Working regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, he regularly performs in major concert halls around the world.
COMPLETE CONCERT ITINERARY AND PROGRAMS
20 August at 19:00 Teatr Wielki, Warsaw
22 August Polish Baltic F. Chopin Philharmonic, Gdansk
Time and tickets to be announced.
24 August at 19:30 Kastellanwiese am Schloss Schönhausen, Berlin
27 August at 11:00 Lucerne Festival
28 August at 20:00 Het Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
30 August at 20:00 Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg
2 September at 19:30 Snape Maltings, Snape
3 September at 14:00 Barbican, London
Program (except in Lucerne, when Melody is omitted and there is no interval):
Giuseppe Verdi: Overture to La Forza del Destino
Yevhen Stankovych: Violin Concerto No. 2
Myroslav Skoryk: Melody
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”
Conductor: Keri-Lynn Wilson
Soloist: Valeriy Sokolov
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
Conductor: Keri-Lynn Wilson
Soloists: Olga Kulchynska, Nicole Chirka, Dmytro Popov, and Vladyslav Buialskyi
With the Chorus of the Polish Białystok Opera