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Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra & Keri-Lynn Wilson — Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra & Keri-Lynn Wilson — Beethoven: Symphony No. 9



The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra was formed in 2022 by its founder and music director, Keri-Lynn Wilson, in coordination with the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, the New York Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera in Warsaw. It was a direct response to Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and a bold initiative to defend Ukraine’s cultural legacy as the country fights for its freedom in the face of violence and aggression. “On the day Putin invaded I was angry and appalled and immediately determined to do something to oppose this barbarism”, says Wilson. “Not just because I am of Ukrainian-Canadian heritage, or because I have cousins who live in the country, some of whom have fought on the front line in Donbas. But because this assault on a nation and its culture demanded a response in kind. I could not take up arms, but I could take up my baton as my weapon.” The orchestra is under the patronage of Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, who describes it as “the musical voice of Ukraine”, adding that its performances proclaim “the timeless message of liberty contained in the eternal classics of their program. Music will speak to silence aggression,” 

The 74-member orchestra brings together the finest Ukrainian musicians from ensembles across the country, Ukrainian musicians who had become refugees abroad following the invasion and Ukrainian members of European orchestras. Its acclaimed tours in the summers of 2022 and 2023 took in leading venues across Europe and the United States such as the BBC Proms and the Barbican in London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, Lincoln Center in New York City and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC as well as concerts in Poland, France and Ireland. Their concerts showcased contemporary Ukrainian composers such as Silvestrov, Skoryk and Stankovych alongside the greats of the wider European musical tradition including Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms and Verdi and enjoyed a rapturous and emotional public response, critical acclaim and unprecedented media attention for an artistic venture of this kind. The concerts received live television and radio broadcasts as well as attracting significant television news attention and extensive coverage in newspapers all over the world including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Times, Le Monde, Die Welt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and many others.

The orchestra’s musicians are drawn from Ukrainian ensembles including the Kyiv National Opera, Odesa Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra, Kyiv Camerata, Lviv National Opera and Kharkiv Opera. Outside of Ukraine, players come from ensembles including the Tonkunstler Orchestra of Vienna, Belgian National Orchestra, and Staatskapelle Berlin. The Ukrainian Ministry of Culture and Information Policy has been a staunch supporter of the project and has assisted in ensuring Ukrainian based male members of the orchestra can leave the country and deploy their musical excellence as part of the wider war effort in a remarkable demonstration of the power of art over adversity.

The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra will re-group in the Summer of 2024 to again tour Europe and the United States. “As Ukraine continues its fight on behalf of the free world, it needs our support now more than ever,” says Keri-Lynn Wilson. “I’m proud to join the brave musicians of the Orchestra once again as we defend Ukraine’s cultural legacy. You cannot erase or silence a culture. We will not rest until the war is won.”



Keri-Lynn Wilson is the founder and Music Director of the highly regarded Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, which has toured major cities and festivals of Europe and the United States over the past two summers. It was formed in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As a staunch supporter of Ukrainian liberty, Ms. Wilson also performed the Verdi Requiem at the Lviv Opera House to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the invasion. She has returned to Ukraine to perform the Beethoven Ninth Symphony with a new performance version of the “Ode to Joy” in Ukrainian that she created. In this version, Schiller’s “Freude/Joy” is changed to “Slava/Glory,” the rallying cry for Ukrainian victory.

Ms. Wilson’s career as a conductor of opera and symphonic music includes many of the world’s leading opera houses and symphony orchestras. Among the opera companies she has conducted most recently are the Royal Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, the Paris Opera and the Deutsche Opera Berlin. Amongst the orchestras she has most recently led are the NHK Symphony, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, and the Bruckner Orchestra of Linz.

Over a rich and varied career, Ms. Wilson has conducted, amongst many other orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Wiener Kammerorchester, the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini in Parma, the Russian National Orchestra, the Prague Philharmonia, the RAI Symphony Orchestra, the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Toronto Symphony and l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal.

Ms. Wilson’s career operatic highlights include Carmen and La Traviata  at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden; Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and La Traviata at the Wiener Staatsoper, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at the Metropolitan Opera, Salome at Houston Grand Opera La Traviata, Madama Butterfly and Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the BayerischeStaatsoper, Madama Butterfly at the Deutsche Oper, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and La Traviata at the OpernhausZürich, Don Carlo, Iolanta, Manon Lescaut, Carmen, Tosca, and La traviata at the Bolshoi Theatre and the Royal Opera House, Jenufa, La Fanciulla del West and Aïda at the English National Opera, Rigoletto at the Norwegian National Opera, Der Fliegende Holländer, Carmina Burana, Boris Godunov, and Carmen at the Polish National Opera, Faust at the Washington National Opera, and Madama Butterfly at the Canadian Opera Company.

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