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Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra & Keri-Lynn Wilson — Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra & Keri-Lynn Wilson — Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
Keri-Lynn Wilson, UFO, Beethoven 9th - Story Banner 1

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,”



Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, Keri-Lynn Wilson

Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 "Choral"

Vladyslav Buialskyi · Olga Kulchynska
Nicole Chirka · Dmytro Popov
The Choir of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic in Białystok
Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra
Keri-Lynn Wilson

February 23, 2024
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The highlight of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra’s 2023 European tour was its emotionally charged performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No 9, with Schiller’s great poem “Ode to Joy”, his cry of freedom, resistance and progress against the forces of oppression, memorably sung by the soloists and chorus in Ukrainian. The Warsaw concert, captured in this recording, was the first time the symphony’s text had been presented in translation outside of Ukraine. Schiller’s poem was rendered in a new performance version prepared by UFO founder and conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson working with her Ukrainian musical colleague Ievgeniia Iermachkova. This new singing translation followed the precedent set by Leonard Bernstein, who conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Berlin on Christmas Day 1989, just weeks after the fall of the Wall, in that it made one important change. Bernstein famously altered Schiller’s opening word “Freude” (Joy) to “Freiheit” (Freedom) and in so doing defined a moment of hope in German, and world, history. In making her performance version Wilson followed Bernstein’s lead and the opening word of the piece in Ukrainian was “Slava”, from the phrase that has become familiar around the world as the rallying call of Ukrainian resistance in the face of ruthless Russian aggression, Slava Ukraini! (“Glory to Ukraine!"). 

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 "Choral" (Excerpt)

“The idea to sing in Ukrainian came to me quite late in our preparations,” explains Wilson. ”But it was so obviously the right thing to do. Putin is literally trying to silence a nation. We will not be silenced.” The orchestra in Warsaw was joined by Ukrainian soloists Olga Kulchynska (soprano), Nicole Chirka (mezzo-soprano), Dmytro Popov (tenor), Vladyslav Buialskyi (bass-baritone), and the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic Choir. The UFO gave a second performance of the symphony with the Ukrainian text in Berlin on Ukrainian Independence Day, 24 August 2023. The orchestra and soloists were here joined by the newly establIshed Ukrainian Freedom Chorus, 40 singers made up from Ukrainian refugees and others resident in Berlin. The performance was attended by the Federal President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in a public show of support for Ukraine’s fight for its freedom. Wilson has subsequently taken this version of the symphony back to Ukraine and performed it in Lviv in December 2023 with Lviv National Opera.


  • Keri-Lynn Wilson, United Freedom Orchestra
  • Keri-Lynn Wilson, United Freedom Orchestra
  • Keri-Lynn Wilson, United Freedom Orchestra
  • Keri-Lynn Wilson, United Freedom Orchestra
  • Keri-Lynn Wilson, United Freedom Orchestra
  • Keri-Lynn Wilson, United Freedom Orchestra
  • Keri-Lynn Wilson, United Freedom Orchestra
  • Keri-Lynn Wilson, United Freedom Orchestra
  • Keri-Lynn Wilson, United Freedom Orchestra
  • Keri-Lynn Wilson, United Freedom Orchestra
  • Keri-Lynn Wilson, United Freedom Orchestra
  • Keri-Lynn Wilson, United Freedom Orchestra

More about the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra

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.”

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 "Choral" (Excerpt)


Keri-Lynn Wilson



Olga Kulchynska (soprano)

Nicole Chirka (mezzosoprano)

Dmytro Popov (tenor)

Vladyslav Buialsky (bass-baritone)



Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra – Roster

Supported by the generous patronage of Olena Zelenska.


Flute                         Ihor Yermak

                                 Andriy Lemekh

Piccolo                     Inna Vorobets


Oboe                        Yurii Khvostov

                                 Yevhen Marchuk


Clarinet                    Oleg Moroz

                                 Vasyl Riabitskyi


Bassoon                   Mark Kreshchenskyi

                                 Roman Vasylchenko


Contrabassoon        Szymon Michalik


Horn                         Dmytro Taran

                                 Dmytro Mytchenko

                                 Igor Szeligowski

                                 Oleg Bezushkevych


Trumpet                   Ostap Popovych

                                 Vladyslav Spyrydonenko


Trombone                Taras Zhelizko

                                 Vasyl Shparkyi

                                 Andriy Shparkyi


Timpani                    Dmytro Ilin


Percussion               Yevhen Ulianov

                                 Sviatoslav Yanchuk


Violin I                      Marko Komonko

                                 Yaromyr Babsky

                                 Viktor Ivanov

                                 Kyrylo Bondar

                                 Mykola Haviuk

                                 Alisa Kuznetsova

                                 Andrii Chaikovskyi

                                 Marta Bura

                                 Marta Semchyshyn

                                 Viktor Hlybochanu

                                 Anna Bura

                                 Mihaly Stefko

                                 Iryna Solovei

                                 Marta Kolomyiets


Violin II                     Nicolai Tsygankov

                                 Alina Komisarova

                                 Roman Sokruta

                                 Adrian Bodnar

                                 Kyrylo Markiv

                                 Viktor Semchyshyn

                                 Mariya Sichko

                                 Liudvika Ivanova

                                 Olha Malyk

                                 Yuliya Tokach

                                 Hanna Vikhrova

                                 Marta Kachkovska


Viola                         Andrii Chop

                                 Ustym Zhuk

                                 Yevheniia Vynogradska

                                 Dmytro Khreshchenskyi

                                 Valentyna Bugrak

                                 Andrii Tuchapets

                                 Iya Komarova

                                 Hryhorii Zavhorodnii

                                 Roksolana Dubova

                                 Lyudmyla Garashchuk


Cello                         Artem Shmahaylo

                                 Lesya Demkovych

                                 Yevgen Dovbysh

                                 Denys Karachevtsev

                                 Vladyslav Primakov

                                 Maksym Rymar

                                 Olha Boichuk

                                 Yuliia Bezushkevych


Double bass             Ivan Zavhorodnii

                                 Nazarii Stets

                                 Yurii Pryriz

                                 Mykola Shakhov

                                 Viktor Ashmarin

                                 Serhii Dikariev




The Choir of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic in Białystok – Roster

Violetta Bielecka, Chorus Master



Hanna Baginska

Monika Bierć

Bożena Bojaryn-Przybyła

Anna Durniat

Joanna Kobylnik

Julita Korch

Arleta Krutul

Dariia Lahotska

Swietłana Łukaszewicz

Beata Malewicka-Macegoniuk

Magdalena Masiewicz



Jolanta Aleksiejuk

Izabela Bolesta

Oksana Gołambowska

Małgorzata Grytczuk

Małgorzata Kostrubiec-Karpiuk

Marta Kummer

Agnieszka Łomasko

Paulina Malinowska

Małgorzata Mukosiej

Małgorzata Putynkowska

Dorota Rosłaniec

Katarzyn Szymuś-Supronowicz



Paweł Cichoński

Maksym Fedorov

Leszek Gaiński

Kiryll Lepay

Wojciech Miastkowski

Paweł Mocarski

Piotr Pawlak

Piotr Rafałowski

Piotr Skibowski

Krzysztof Stankiewicz

Paweł Szypulski

Kamil Wróblewski



Mariusz Bierć

Wojciec Bronakowski

Krzysztof Drugow

Oleg Kobzar

Karol Komenda

Bogdan Kordy

Artur Mądry

Dariusz Pruszyński

Stachura Mateusz

Krzysztof Szyfman

Krzysztof Wojtecki

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