Play Hard

Middlesbrough to host the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine after two decades

Plus, how you can support Ukraine.

Written by Rachael Nichol
Published 07.10.2023

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With over a year since Russia’s invasion and millions forced to leave their homes, Ukraine continues to fight the war living in fear of what the future holds.

But despite these trying times, Ukraine continues to spread hope and resilience through its cultural expression from the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine (NSOU).

Recognised as one of the finest symphony orchestras in Eastern Europe, NSOU has chosen the UK for its biggest single-country tour and is returning for the first time in over 20 years next month.

But travelling to the UK is no easy task. With no flights in and out of the country, the entire orchestra will take a 20-hour coach journey through the war zone to Warsaw, Poland, where the members will then board a flight to Heathrow, which has been kindly supported by British Airways.

The UK Home Office has also agreed to waive visa fees for the 90-strong members of the orchestra.

Recognizing the significance of the NSOU’s UK tour in demonstrating the UK’s support for Ukraine during the ongoing conflict, the orchestra has been extended a special invitation to the House of Commons. During their visit, they will meet with the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, and other esteemed Parliamentarians.

During the tour, the NSOU will be visiting the North East and will grace the stage of Middlesbrough Town Hall on Tuesday, October 31. Tickets for this exceptional performance are available for £25, with a special price of £5 for those under 30.

The orchestra’s repertoire for the Middlesbrough Town Hall performance has been thoughtfully curated to resonate with the current situation in Ukraine and includes pieces by renowned composers such as Boris Lyatoshynsky, Max Bruch, and Jean Sibelius. The artistic director and chief conductor, Volodymyr Sirenko, and the talented violinist Aleksey Semenenko will lead this captivating performance.

‘It’s a huge privilege for Middlesbrough to host the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and we are delighted they will be playing in the stunning surrounds of the Main Hall, says Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke.

‘We look forward to welcoming all our guests and seeing the hall come alive with the sounds of the orchestra and the buzz of the audience,’ adds Chris. ‘We encourage everyone to join us if they can and any younger people interested in attending should check out the £5 ticket offer available to those under 30s – a fantastic and affordable way to enjoy an unforgettable experience.

‘We are excited to return to the UK for the first time in 22 years and we are deeply grateful to the UK government, the 17 tour venues and UK tour promoters for enabling this ambitious tour to take place,’ says Alexander Hornostai, NSOU managing director and producer.

‘We are fighting for the recognition of Ukrainian culture all over the world,’ adds Alexander. ‘Ukraine is not Russia; Ukrainian music is not Russian. It is special, original, self-sufficient, and beautiful. We have renounced all Russian music and art without hesitation – by replacing it with Ukrainian music we are trying to crystallize a sense of pride for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.

‘We feel emotional every time we perform now as we convey what is in our hearts through music. On the one hand, there is pain, sadness, suffering, and on the other hand, faith in the victory of Ukraine and the prosperous future of our country.

“We have had to learn to live for today, in the present moment.’

Another unique element of the UK 2023 tour is that in addition to providing a UK-wide platform for the orchestra to perform, it is also fundraising to support the NSOU and the continuation of Ukraine’s rich musical culture during this conflict.

A JustGiving appeal with a target of £24,000 has been set up by the tour promoters, IMG Artists, and is being promoted by all 17 concert venues. All proceeds will be donated directly to the orchestra at the end of their tour. The target amount is based on the total expected UK audience numbers for this tour of 24,000 people.

If you would like to make a donation to the JustGiving appeal, follow this link https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/nsou-tour-2023

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