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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Naomi Clarke

Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra member: Music helps get through the turmoil

Ukrainian Musical Freedom Fighters with Clive Myrie,PORTRAIT,Yulia Rubanova,Picture shows: Violinist, Yulia Rubanova at The Polish National Opera, Warsaw, Poland, (Agata Grzybowska/BBC/PA)

A Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra member has said she believes “music and love are the things that are going to save this world” as she encouraged others to see that her home country is more than just the conflict.

Violinist Yulia Rubanova is one of the 75 Ukrainian musicians who came together in the midst of Russia’s invasion of the country to bring a message of defiance and hope.

A new BBC documentary, Ukraine’s Musical Freedom Fighters With Clive Myrie, sees the presenter meet members of the orchestra and follow them from practising in Ukraine to coming together for their first rehearsal as an orchestra in Warsaw for their inaugural concert in July.

The programme sees Rubanova reunite with her parents in Vienna, Austria after they finally left their hometown of Mariupol where they remained for three months after the war broke out.

She explains that she did not know for two months if her parents were alive and that they had survived by accident after escaping a missile attack.

The musician told the PA news agency that she agreed immediately to join the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra when she was offered a place as she wanted to be “useful” for her home country.

“This summer we all were like cultural ambassadors, we could do something, we could be useful for our country,” she said.

The orchestra toured across Europe and America over the past summer including a performance at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms.

Rubanova said: “We’ve been to many countries across the globe and everywhere we found that the audience supported us.

“We felt that incredible energy and it’s something that matters, that gives you the power to move on because you get exhausted from just hearing all the awful news.

“It is something that we needed for ourselves as well.”

She added that even before they began to play at their concerts in London, New York and Washington they received a standing ovation which caused a lot of the musicians to become emotional at the show of solidarity.

Rubanova told PA that music has been an important element throughout her whole life as she grew up as a child of musicians but it has been something she has particularly leaned on in these difficult days amid the ongoing conflict.

“In these times of turmoil music is really something that helps,” she said.

“I think that music and love are the things that are going to save this world.”

The musician added that she hopes the orchestra will help show the rest of the world that there is more to Ukraine than just the conflict.

She said: “We had to show the world that Ukraine has talented performers.

“Like 30 per cent of the musicians of the orchestra are already part of European orchestras, they’re already recognised in Europe.

“And our message to the world was that Ukraine is not just about war, Ukraine has a lot to share, like composers and lots of talented professional musicians. Ukraine has a very developed cultural layer.”

She added: “We also had to show the world that we exist and not to let the world get tired of all the bad news.

“To show that we have a lot (to share) in scientific areas, in cultural areas.

“We can do all those things on a very high level and we deserve the attention and we deserve the support and the help.”

Ukraine’s Musical Freedom Fighters With Clive Myrie will air on September 24 at 7.35pm on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer and on BBC Four on September 25.

The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra’s performance at the BBC Proms will also be broadcast on BBC Four at 10pm on September 25 and it available on iPlayer.

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