From a basement shelter in the besieged city of Kyiv, violinist Illia Bondarenko plays a haunting melody between explosions.
As the video expands, he’s joined by nearly 100 violinists from more than 2 dozen countries united by their love of music and shared instrument.
In an Instagram post, violinist Kerenza Peacock explains: “I befriended some young violinists in Ukraine via Instagram and discovered some were in basement shelters but had their violins. So I asked colleagues across the world to accompany them in harmony.”
The response was immediate.
In less than 48 hours, Peacock was sent videos from 94 violinists in 29 countries.
The traditional Ukrainian folk song, Verbovaya Doshchechka (“The Willow Board”), speaks of a young woman’s longing for the return of her beloved.
The mournful melody is taken up by the variety of violinists: players from the London Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, the Hollywood Studios; renowned fiddle players; musicians representing Indian, Scottish and bluegrass traditions.
As Peacock notes: “Never before have violinists gathered together from so many countries. Or collaborated across so many different styles of violin playing.
Violinists are a fellowship who all have rosin and broken E strings in common, but sadly some are currently having to think about how to arm themselves, and hiding in bomb shelters instead of playing Beethoven or bluegrass. Some more Ukrainians wanted to take part, but now have guns in their hands instead of violins.”