Flashmob Orchestra Performs in The UK in Solidarity with Ukraine
Led by Russian-British conductor Petr Limonov, the 200-member Music For Peace orchestra included professional musicians such as VC Artist violinist Jennifer Pike and composer and French horn player Gabriel Prokofiev.
On March 6 at 3 PM, the orchestra played Ukrainian music to a crowd of hundreds of people who had gathered around a makeshift stage at the foot of the National Gallery in central London, according to the Guardian.
They performed the Ukrainian National Anthem in addition to Ukrainian composers Valentin Silvestrov’s Hymn 2001 and Mykola Lysenko’s Prayer for Ukraine — the latter which was accompanied by singing from the crowd.
— Jonathan Baz (@MrJonathanBaz) March 6, 2022
“At this time we are trying to do all we can for a horrific situation, and musicians only really know one way, which is to play…To watch this war unfolding is devastating and as musicians, we wanted to do something to help, and show our hearts are with Ukrainians,” Jennifer Pike told The Violin Channel.
“We wanted to come together to express our solidarity with the Ukrainian people and get aid to those fleeing the war by galvanizing support for the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, [which is part of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC)].”
This event, "Music for Peace," was organized by classical music fan Juliet Barclay alongside Eva Pires, in just five days. Musicians from around the world signed up to participate. The group of volunteer musicians even crowdfunded to buy the rights to perform Hymn 2001 by Silvestrov, who is believed to be in Kyiv while it remains under fire.
As reported in the Guardian, Barclay devised the event after feeling helpless about Ukraine’s rising humanitarian crisis and its surrounding borders. According to the Washington Post, two million people have now fled Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion.
“I started off contacting a niche group of friends, then putting word out to all the orchestras in London and the music schools to see if we could pull it off,” Barclay said. “There was some unnerving silence for a while…[but then] we became utterly, utterly swamped. We could really only cope with organizing 200 musicians, and we ended up turning down around 500 more.”
Pike shared with us her experience being at the event: “To be surrounded by musicians from around the world and feel the depth of emotion emanating from the crowd in Trafalgar Square was a powerful experience,” she said. “The culture and identity of Ukraine cannot be erased, and music shows us that the spirit of people cannot be extinguished.
“The atmosphere in the square was at times resolute and defiant during the Ukrainian National Anthem, but in the Silvestrov Hymn, the sheer beauty and grace of the music was overwhelming and united us all in sadness. I heard that the composer is in Kyiv at the moment, and all our hearts went out to him and the people of Ukraine as we played.
“My grandmother’s hometown before WWII was Lviv (then Lwów) and when she was 7, in 1946, the borders moved and they packed what possessions they could and left on one of the last trains out," Pike continued. "To see images of people fleeing the city in 2022 is heartbreaking."
No rehearsals took place for the flashmob performance, which relied on Limonov’s conducting notes on the scores. “We feel it is our duty to do as much as we humanly can for this cause, and I urge everyone who can be there to come and join us in this fight for Peace,” said Limonov, according to Harrison Parrott. “It is right now that the fate of Ukraine is being decided, and our hearts are with its citizens.”
A video uploaded by Pires of the flashmob can be watched below.