From her shelter in Kharkiv, Vera Lytovchenko caused a stir on social media after posting videos of herself playing her violin to “make people forget about the war, if only for a few minutes”.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, violinists have been fighting on the music front, sometimes from their basement, through their “weapon of resistance”.
“I’m not a doctor, I’m not a soldier, I don’t play politics. I just play the violin,” Vera Lytovchenko told AFP via the Whastapp messaging app.
“I don’t want to feel helpless. I want to help my friends and music teachers who have lost their homes, their jobs, their instruments,” adds the musician, who launched a fundraiser after receiving an avalanche of messages of support around the world.
Soloist in the Kharkiv Opera Orchestra and teacher, the 39-year-old Ukrainian was inspired by one of her students who played the violin in front of refugees in a subway.
Armed with her bow, Vera interpreted Vivaldi and Ukrainian melodies.
“We are 12 people: children, teenagers, old people… I consider myself very privileged, because I am in a cellar where we have heating, electricity, food. There are people who are not so lucky.
Helping her country through music is also the goal of Illia Bondarenko, 20, who was filmed in her shelter in Kyiv performing a Ukrainian folk song, “Verbovaya Doschechka”, on the violin.
The young violinist is joined, thanks to a video montage, by 94 violinists from 70 countries, including nine of his compatriots, the renowned soloist Daniel Hope and the entire violin section of the Munich Chamber Orchestra.
The video went viral after being shared by the London Symphony Orchestra (over 3.6 million views on Facebook).
“I wanted this video to touch people’s hearts; music is the most powerful form of prayer,” Kerenza Peacock, LSO violinist behind this project called “Violinists for Ukraine,” which also raises funds for war victims, told AFP.
“Illia was amazing. He was filmed hearing alarm sirens and the internet connection was bad.
“I was filmed in a shelter where we spent the night, because, when we went to our apartment during the day, we tried not to make noise to remain attentive to the sirens”, explained the young man to AFP via the Skype communication software.
“Music has power and Ukrainian musicians today are soldiers on the musical front,” says the young man, who took refuge with his grandmother in the Lviv region (west) but remains worried about his parents stranded in Zhytomyr, west of Kyiv.
Illia, who was studying composition at the Kyiv Conservatory, sees her instrument as a “weapon of resistance”.
“I can do more with my music than with weapons today”.
According to Kerenza Peacock, violinists she contacted apologized for not participating in the project, as they were “going to the front”.
“There are many musicians who took up arms to defend our country,” adds Mariia Klymenko, 23, who left the Kyiv region for Lviv.
She posted on Instagram a video of herself playing a Ukrainian lullaby with her accomplice for two years, guitarist Yuri Bikbaev, thanks to an edit.
“He stayed in Kyiv and sealed the windows of his apartment to protect himself. We decided to edit this video to rediscover this bond that united us before the war, ”explains to AFP the musician, who was studying at the Kyiv Academy of Music.
“I chose this lullaby because my mother used to sing it to calm me down when I was a baby. And I want people watching the video to feel peace in their hearts.”