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The Ukraine Freedom Orchestra will be playing the Proms this summer

The ensemble is made up of refugee musicians and players from top European orchestras

Chris Waywell
Written by
Chris Waywell

Some people find the more nationalistic aspect of the traditional Proms season at the Royal Albert Hall a bit troubling, but this summer, the venerable concert series has one country-propping performance that absolutely all right-thinking types should be happy getting right behind.

The brand-new Ukraine Freedom Orchestra is made up of musicians from the war-torn nation forced into exile by Russia’s sickeningly brutal illegitimate invasion, along with Ukrainian players from world-class European ensembles.

Formed at breakneck speed so it could do a proper tour of North America and Europe this summer, the Ukraine Freedom Orchestra is under the baton of Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson, and will be performing works by Beethoven, Brahms and Chopin, as well as Ukrainian composer.

‘This tour is an expression of love for their homeland,’ said Wilson, ‘and to honour those who have died and have suffered so much.’

The orchestra will perform at the Albert Hall on July 31 as part of this year’s eight-week BBC Proms series of 84 concerts. The Proms programme has been massively disrupted by the Covid pandemic over the last two years, so 2022 will also be a special one for that reason. 

The Proms has also announced that it will not be banning Russian musicians from performing this summer, on the condition that they have not spoken out in support of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Proms director David Pickard told the BBC: ‘Sometimes you can feel rather powerless if you're involved in the cultural world when a huge event like this war is going on, and this [orchestra] is a marvellous way to support the country and celebrate the power of music to cross divides.’ 

Ukraine Freedom Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall, 11am, Jul 31. Details here.

Full details of the 2022 BBC Proms season here.

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