Final preparations are under way for the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine (NSOU) as it prepares to return to the UK for the first time in over 20 years next month.
The NSOU - one of the oldest and most significant cultural institutions in Ukraine and recognised as one of the finest symphony orchestras in Eastern Europe - has chosen the UK for its biggest single-country tour as part of its efforts to fight the war on the cultural front.
Recognising the significance of the UK tour and to demonstrate the UK’s support of Ukraine during the conflict, the NSOU has been invited to the House of Commons during its visit to meet with the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, and other senior Parliamentarians.
The UK Home Office has also agreed to waive visa fees for the 90-strong members of the orchestra.
Travelling to the UK is no easy task. With no flights in and out of the country, the entire orchestra will take a 20-hour coach journey across two borders through the war zone to Warsaw, Poland, where the members will then board a flight to Heathrow, which has been kindly supported by British Airways.
The repertoire for the performance at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Tuesday, October 31 has been carefully selected by the orchestra to resonate with the country’s current situation and includes:
- Boris Lyatoshynsky
Grazhyna Symphonic Picture (19 mins)
- Max Bruch
Violin Concerto No. 1 (25 mins)
- Jean Sibelius
Symphony No. 1 (40 mins)
- Artistic Director & Chief Conductor: Volodymyr Sirenko
Violinist: Aleksey Semenenko
Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke said: “It’s a huge privilege for Middlesbrough to host the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and we are delighted they will be playing in the stunning surrounds of the Main Hall.
“We look forward to welcoming all our guests and seeing the hall come alive with the sounds of the orchestra and the buzz of the audience.
“We encourage everyone to join us if they can and any younger people interested in attending should check out the £5 ticket offer available to under 30s – a fantastic and affordable way to enjoy an unforgettable experience.”
Mayor Cooke is also extending an invitation to the event to Council leaders from across the North East.
Councillor Philippa Storey, Middlesbrough Deputy Mayor and Executive member for Culture said: “Having the only North East performance, at our beautiful Town Hall is incredibly prestigious for Middlesbrough. We are looking forward to welcoming the orchestra to our town.”
Alexander Hornostai, NSOU managing director and producer, said: “We are excited to return to the UK for the first time in 22 years and we are deeply grateful to the UK government, the 17 tour venues and UK tour promoters enabling this ambitious tour to take place.
“We are fighting for the recognition of Ukrainian culture all over the world. Ukraine is not Russia; Ukrainian music is not Russian. It is special, original, self-sufficient, and beautiful. We have renounced all Russian music and art without hesitation – by replacing it with Ukrainian music we are trying to crystallize a sense of pride for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
“We feel emotional every time we perform now as we convey what is in our hearts through music. On the one hand, there is pain, sadness, suffering, and on the other hand, faith in the victory of Ukraine and the prosperous future of our country.
“We have had to learn to live for today, in the present moment.”
Another unique element of the UK 2023 tour is that in addition to providing a UK-wide platform for the orchestra to perform, it is also fundraising to support the NSOU and the continuation of Ukraine’s rich musical culture during this conflict.
A Just Giving appeal with a target of £24,000 has been set up by the tour promoters, IMG Artists, and is being promoted by all 17 concert venues. All proceeds will be donated directly to the orchestra at the end of their tour. The target amount is based on the total expected UK audience numbers for this tour of 24,000 people.
The National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine will play at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Tuesday, October 31.
Tickets are £25 including booking fee, or £5 for under 30s including booking fee.
For more information or to buy tickets, go to the Middlesbrough Town Hall website or call 01642 729 729.
To make a donation to the appeal, visit the JustGiving page here.