On Friday, February 17th, having concluded the day’s session of the meeting of the Council of the Metropolia, and discussed the tragedies being inflicted on Ukraine due to the unprovoked invasion by Russia a year ago, the members of the board decided to participate in a local fundraiser that evening at the State Theater in Brunswick, New Jersey.
Having played Carnegie hall that Wednesday, the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine would be holding a performance that evening in New Jersey. The Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra (Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine) was officially established on September 27, 1902. Since 2018, the orchestra has been fruitfully cooperating with the famous American conductor of Ukrainian origin Theodore Kuchar, who is the main guest conductor of the orchestra, and from May 2022 – chief conductor of the Lviv National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine.
The Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine is a regular participant in international festivals, in particular, the International Festival of Musical Art “Virtuosos”, the International Festival of Contemporary Music “Contrasts”, the Ukrainian-Polish Festival “Discovering Paderewski” and others. The Academic Symphony Orchestra of Lviv National Philharmonic is one of the largest in Ukraine and is well known far beyond its borders.
The orchestra has toured in many countries around the world, including Poland, Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and China. During the past several seasons they have completed highly-acclaimed recordings for major international labels including Naxos and Brilliant Classics.
The concerts are geared to raise awareness of the horrors being inflicted upon Ukraine and are a bittersweet for many of the musicians, who have spent much of the past year on tour, away from family and friends, watching the destruction of war from afar. While practicing and performing, their thoughts always wonder back home to their loved ones. Throughout the days and the hours, they constantly watch the news and try to stay in contact with their families. While the music is “entertainment” for many of the audience, it is much like the bow of the violin that is plucking at the strings of their hearts.
This evening the State Theater was filled to capacity as music lovers of various backgrounds and ethnicities filled the seats to enjoy an evening of both soothing, inspiriting, and though-provoking music.
The music ranged from new compositions reflecting the soft peaceful sounds of birdsong, harshly interrupted by chaotic drums and strings echoing the missiles exploding over Ukraine. There were numerous well known compositions which had the audience closing their eyes and drifting away to distant memories, while others had them on the edge of their seat eyes wide open, and heart pounding along with the drums at the crescendo of the melody.
During a pause in performance, the conductor turned to the audience thanking them for their avid participation and appreciation of the work of the musicians seated before them. As he paused, the loud voice of Archbishop Daniel called out from the Mezzanine - «Слава Україні!»/”Slava Ukraini!”/”Glory to Ukraine!” A resounding response of «Героям Слава!»/”Herojam Slava!/”Glory to the Heroes” echoed from all corners of the theater. The conductor, surprised at the outcry, smiled, nodded his head, turned back to the orchestra, raised his hands and led them on a toe tapping, joyous Ukrainian composition.
As the audience rose to their feet for the final standing ovation, the orchestra members unfurled a Ukrainian flag, which led for an even louder roar from the crowd, who themselves were waving flags. Thus with uplifted hearts, the audience exited the theater only to mingle in the lobby where the conductor appeared to gladly shake hands and speak with them.
After the performance, conductor Theodor Kuchar met personally with both Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel to thank them for the Church’s monetary support, and for joining the audience that evening to cheer them on. The conductor, who studied in the United States, shared stories of when he had visited the Metropolia Center of the UOC of the USA, and asked the hierarchs for their continued prayers for the symphony members, their families, and all of Ukraine.
The orchestra packed up their instruments and departed for the next city, in order to continue their good work of spreading awareness of the atrocities being perpetrated by Russia in Ukraine. May the Lord bless their journey, grant success to their campaign, and return peace to Ukraine.