The Kyiv-based National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine is stopping by Mechanics Hall in Worcester on Friday, kicking off a two-week U.S. tour.
Volodymyr Vynnytsky, the soloist pianist with the tour, reflected on the its importance with regard to the war in Ukraine, in which some of the orchestra’s members are currently service. He got his American citizenship within the last few years.
"I think it's very natural to represent [your] country. We represent both country now — in United States and Ukraine, also," Vynnytsky said on Boston Public Radio Friday. "We are ambassadors. We try to help how we can, help our country where we were born."
Cellist Natalia Khoma, who is also married to Vynnytsky, shared the mindset of optimism that she and other Ukrainians are holding onto.
"The hope is very important," she said. "You probably understand what we hope, that Ukraine will become free and our people will be liberated."
The orchestra was founded in 1918 and has become one of the most prominent orchestras in Eastern Europe.
Following the Russian invasion in Ukraine, people from all walks of life are becoming part of the resistance. Ukrainians — orchestral members, poets, actors — have shifted from the life they knew before the war to join the effort, Vynnytsky and Khoma said.
On top of some of their fellow symphony members staying in the country to serve, Vynnytsky has a sister still living there who, at times, has to run to shelters for her own safety.
Another family member, his mother, passed away soon after the conflict broke out — "emotionally, she cannot exist anymore."
During challenging times, music can be helpful, said Khoma — who has also served as a professor at Lviv Conservatory in Ukraine, Michigan State University and more.
"I think music has healing properties," she said. "When you are sad, and you perform it, it calms you down. ... You communicate with people from all over the world without the words, and it's very powerful."
National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine will be performing at Mechanics Hall in Worcester on Friday, Feb. 9, starting at 8 p.m.