Music strengthens Ukrainian students in Philly

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A free student concert was held in the Kimmel Center foyer on Friday before a Philadelphia Orchestra concert, all to commemorate one year since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began.

Two of the students who participated fled from the war-torn country.

String Theory Schools 10th grader Olesia Skorets proudly played the bandura, the Ukrainian national instrument, consisting of 65 strings.

“To me it’s something like the piano,” Skorets said. “I see strings and I can play.”

Skorets escaped the war to start school in September, which Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky says added to the meaningfulness of the concert.

“This was just a little slice of Ukrainian culture that we could celebrate and have a moment of community with,” said Tarnopolsky.

“Music can give voice to thoughts and ideas that words alone cannot.”

Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Philadelphia Iryna Mazur says every day that Ukraine pushes back is a triumph.

“I’m believing that we are one day closer to the victory,” said Mazur. “That’s how I get up every morning.”

“I wished this war would be over a long time ago, and I wish not so many people would die and be tortured, killed and raped.”

The program for the String Theory Charter School performance on the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including a QR code for donation to the Ukrainian Federation of America.

The program for the String Theory Charter School performance on the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including a QR code for donation to the Ukrainian Federation of America.

Photo credit Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

11th grader and Ukrainian native David Kozyrkov also performed a song by Ukrainian rock band Okean Elzy called “Obiymy.”

“When I sing this song, I remember Ukraine,” he said. “I remember people in Ukraine.”

He said the lyrics to the song he performed are meant to be like a hug.

“To hug other people,” he said, describing how he lives now with his mother in Philadelphia while his father is part of the Ukrainian military.

Tarnopolsky says through music, there’s a bigger message.

“If everybody who’s now holding a gun instead had a musical instrument and if everybody had this chance to sing together in a choir, then the world would be a much better place,” he said.

And as Kozyrkov said, “We need to stay strong.”

After their performance in the foyer, the Philadelphia Orchestra presented an emotional performance of Ukraine’s national anthem.





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