Violinists Support Ukraine

Press Release

March 7th, 2022

Young Ukrainian violinist Illia Bondarenko, playing in a basement shelter in Kyiv, is joined in harmony by top violinists around the world. He had to film in between explosions because he could not hear himself play.

New video: An international violin choir from 29 countries playing in solidarity with Ukrainian violinists.

I am a professional violinist. On the day Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine, I was at home practicing my scales. I wondered what my Ukrainian counterparts were doing in that moment. So I took to Instagram and befriended some violinists in Ukraine. Some were also practicing their scales - in between arming themselves with Molotov cocktails. Some violinists were hiding in basements and bomb shelters in Kyiv, but still had their violins with them. Devastated to hear the explosions were so close, and desperate to offer some comfort, I asked one of them, young virtuoso Illia Bondarenko, if he would film himself playing in his basement shelter. I then asked other violinists in Ukraine and colleagues from around the world to play along with him in harmony. In the space of 48 hours, I received videos from 94 violinists, representing 29 different countries.

Nine other young violinists sheltering in Ukraine join in unison, and are accompanied in harmony by world class players from the London Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, the Hollywood Studios, and renowned violinists from all over the world including Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Belgium, Georgia, Poland, South Korea, South Africa, Moldova, Denmark, India, and the entire violin section of the Munich Chamber Orchestra! We have famous fiddlers from different violin traditions including Indian, Scottish, bluegrass. And international soloist Daniel Hope who had, by coincidence, once coached the young Ukrainian virtuoso Illia, who starts the video.

So we play an old Ukrainian folk song together across continents, called Verbovaya Doschechka. Never before have violinists gathered together from so many countries. Or collaborated across so many different styles of violin playing. Violinists are a fellowship who all have rosin and broken E strings in common, but sadly some are currently having to think about how to arm themselves, and hiding in bomb shelters instead of playing Beethoven or bluegrass.

Ukrainian violinist, Mariia Klymenko, 23, told me that as she was recording this, her brothers were defending their country. She said more Ukrainians wanted to join us but they now have guns in their hands instead of violins. The violin has traditionally been an instrument through which to express grief. Watching each video as it arrived in my inbox was very emotional. It seems like everyone is praying with their violins.

We are playing for peace, and encourage everyone to find a way to help Ukraine.

From the world’s greatest orchestras, to a lone fiddler in the Scottish highlands, we support Ukraine.

Press Contact: Kerenza Peacock (ViolinistsForUkraine@gmail.com or InternationalViolinChoir@gmail.com)

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