A special permit of the Ukrainian ministers of culture and defence, hasty evacuation, a long journey: all that to reach the destination in the end – Warsaw. It is here that the rehearsals to the European concert tour of the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra began. The programme addressed the heroism of the defenders of Ukraine, the drama of the murdered, yet at the same time it instils hope for victory. 

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A group of over 100 orchestra musicians and staff, and their families arrived in Poland to get ready to perform, in cooperation with the Warsaw Philharmonic and the National Institute of Music and Dance, for the first time since the war began. 

“We find it an honour and responsibility to be the true and resonant voice of Ukraine in the world. In Warsaw, our musicians will play together for the first time since the war broke out,”, said Anna Stavychenko, the orchestra’s executive director. “In the last weeks we were scattered all around the country, yet today – united – it is with pride that we begin to tell the tale of our fight for independence. Also of our exceptional culture that has always been part of the main European cultural processes, and our cultural heritage organically inscribed in the varied/multicolour map of the great European family. We want our concerts to give us all hope for a peaceful future, and faith that Ukraine will rise stronger and more beautiful than ever before.” 

The significance of that exceptional tour is emphasised further by the fact that the musicians obtained a special permit of the Ukrainian authorities – the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, and the Ministry of Defence – to leave the country. Thanks to this, both women and men working normally in Kyiv, set off on a journey that will take them and their music to Łódź, Berlin, Hamburg, and Dresden. 

“We are proud to be able to host musicians from Ukraine in Poland”, said Professor Piotr Gliński, Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. “Their determination is impressive: in this exceptional way, against all odds and above the borders of languages, they reinforce the solidarity of Europe with a country that has fought Russian aggression for nearly two months. Our duty is to support Ukraine in any way we can. Since the war began, as the state and as a community, we have been taking an exam in solidarity: also through the activities of our cultural institutions operating domestically and abroad.” 

The concert tour will open on 21 April 2022 at the Warsaw (National) Philharmonic with Ukrainian orchestral music, ranging from its earliest works from the 1770s to the masterpieces of the 20th century. 

“In the concert conducted by Luigi Gaggero, will have an opportunity to hear works by Maksym Berezovsky and Myroslav Skoryk on the one hand, and Boris Lyatoshinsky on the other”, said Wojciech Nowak, Director of the Warsaw Philharmonic. “There will be no shortage of Polish accents, and an exceptional moment will come with eminent violinist, Janusz Wawrowski performing a piece by Henryk Wieniawski.” 

In the European tour, the artists are accompanied by their families and children. For many of them, it is an opportunity to find a moment’s peace and feel safely for the first time in weeks. 

“From the moment we started to talk with our Ukrainian colleagues about their arrival in Poland, we knew that it will be necessary to provide them with psychological support as well”, Katarzyna Meissner, Director of the National Institute of Music and Dance, explained. “From the start of this twisted and ruthless war, we have offered such aid to the refugees, and obviously now we also provide it to the members of the Kyiv Orchestra on their European tour.” 

In Poland, the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra will perform two concerts: in Warsaw on 21 April and in Łódź on 23 April. As this is the ensemble’s first performance since the war began, it will be preceded by several days of rehearsals in the Concert Hall in ul. Jasna and in the headquarters of the Polish Radio. The musicians’ visit to Poland is organised by the Warsaw Philharmonic and the National Institute of Music and Dance, and financed from the funds of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. 

Tickets to the concerts are available from the box offices and websites of the Warsaw Philharmonic and the Artur Rubinstein Łódź Philharmonic. 

 The Kyiv Symphony Orchestra, Ukraine’s state ensemble boasting 40 years of history, is currently undergoing a revolutionary revival. The orchestra’s encounter with its Italian conductor, Luigi Gaggero, gave birth to a rare combination of the sensual Ukrainian musicality and the Western analytical approach to the score. Unusual for the Kyiv orchestras, invitation of a foreigner to assume the position of the leading conductor was the expression of the musicians’ ambitious desire to create interpretations that are at the same time fresh, historically informed, and touching. Furthermore, the orchestra is particular about preserving and promoting Ukrainian gems of Ukrainian music. 

The Kyiv Symphony Orchestra performs regularly at prime national holidays. In June 2021 they played the concert devoted to the 25th anniversary of approving the Ukrainian constitution in the square in front of the Iin turn, in August 2021 they performed a programme devoted to the 30th anniversary of Ukraine regaining independence on the Olympic Stadium, the country’s largest. 

Another area of the orchestra’s work are the projects for children and young people, including interactive events and open dress rehearsals, and engaging students into the orchestra. 

All these elements make the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra one of the best-known artistic institutions in Ukraine. 

Luigi Gaggero has stood at the helm of the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra as its principal conductor since 2018. Feeling a profound need for continued dialogue between classical, contemporary, and early music, he also directs the Ukho Ensemble specialising in contemporary music, and La Dolce Maniera baroque vocal ensemble. His sensitivity to the artists expressing transcendence in art is manifested in his eclectic interest in mediaeval painting, and Heidegger’s and Nietzsche’s philosophy. His moving and colourful interpretations start from the fully empathetic encounter of the performer, composer, and audience. Gaggero conducted the Ukho Ensemble in three sold-out opera productions at the Ukrainian National Opera, and released highly acclaimed monographic albums devoted to Stefano Gervasoni (Winter&Winter), Toshio Hosokawa and Samuel Andreyev (Kairos), and Alessandro Solbiati (EMA Vinci Records). 

Under his leadership, the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra quickly became one of the most respected musical ensembles in Ukraine. In 2022 the orchestra will be the first Easter European ensemble to start working with the prestigious KD Schmid international classical music agency.