Ukrainian Youth Choir Defies War with Messages of Freedom

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — From a dank Kyiv bomb shelter to the intense stage lights of Europe’s theaters, a Ukrainian youth choir’s hymns in reward of freedom provide a form of therapeutic balm to its war-scarred members.

The Shchedryk ensemble, described as Kyiv’s oldest skilled kids’s choir, had been within the Danish capital this week for a efficiency as a part of a global tour that additionally took them to New York’s famed Carnegie Corridor.

It was purported to be a part of a busy yr to rejoice the choir’s fiftieth anniversary. However Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine modified all that, with members scattering inside their homeland and overseas looking for security. Some members say they’ve misplaced family and friends within the combating.

“It is extremely tough to collect the youngsters,” mentioned Marianna Sablina, the choir’s inventive director and chief conductor, whose mom based the choir in 1971. Among the members are “outdoors the borders of Ukraine, and solely a couple of third of the discussion board at the moment lives in Kyiv.”

Earlier this yr, the choir managed to reassemble and commenced rehearsing in Kyiv’s Nationwide Palace of Arts.

The vagaries of war usually plagued the rehearsals. When Kyiv got here underneath bombardment and suffered energy outages, air raid sirens pressured the choir to assemble in a darkened bomb shelter, illuminating their sheet music with no matter gentle supply they may discover.

“When there are sirens, we go to the shelter and simply sing with our telephones and flashlights,” mentioned 15-year-old choir member Anastasiia Rusina, whose household fled to western Ukraine following the invasion.

“I believe that we’re form of getting used to it as a result of it’s our job to do. We’ve a live performance, so we simply can’t skip any rehearsals,” she mentioned.

The viewers at Copenhagen’s Church of The Holy Ghost not too long ago listened to the hovering voices of the choir, made up largely teenage women carrying black and white attire accentuated by purple and black squares on their sleeves and colourful beads round their necks.

“I sincerely hope that the live performance right here will ship a message of affection and hope and in addition sympathy and help to all Ukrainian households,” mentioned Nataliya Popovych, co-founder of Copenhagen’s Ukraine Home, a civil society group which introduced the group to Denmark. “Hopefully subsequent yr, all Ukrainian households will be capable of rejoice Christmas correctly,” she added.

On the core of the efficiency was the music “Carol of the Bells,” maybe greatest identified from the 1990 Christmas film ‘Residence Alone’.

The carol was initially organized by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych within the early 1900s. The choir’s title, “Shchedryk,” comes from the music’s Ukrainian title.

“We’ve to ship to those that our tradition is so necessary to our world,” Polina Holtseva, one other mentioned 15-year-old choir member, whose household has stayed in Kyiv all through the battle.

“It’s our tradition, it’s our songs, and it’s so superb that we’ve an opportunity to offer you this music,” she mentioned.

Choir members Rusina and Holtseva mentioned they don’t have any concrete profession plans. They famous they do not don’t even know what they are going to do tomorrow. However amid the horrors of conflict, Shchedryk choir has grow to be their “secure place.”

“We simply don’t take into consideration the conflict or our state of affairs. We simply sing, we’re along with our mates, our household,” Rusina mentioned.

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