The Kyiv Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Dmitro Larin

“ ‘I’m sorry, things are pretty dramatic here and all I can focus on right now is saving my family…’ That was how Anna Stavychenko, artistic director of the Open Music City Festival and executive director of the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra, replied to me when I contacted her,” writes Hartmut Welscher in Thursday’s (2/24) Van magazine (Berlin). “Less than 24 hours after we spoke [in mid-February] about being on high alert and the importance of culture in a crisis, Russian troops launched attacks by air, land, and sea in ten of Ukraine’s 27 regions…. Anna Stavychenko: It’s never been as threatening as it is now…. I wanted to … make my small contribution to the development of my country, especially its cultural identity. I just kept going like so many other Ukrainians…. But … every hour we get news of troop deployments, the Russian army invading tonight, tomorrow.… It’s a constant state of stress…. I’ve received messages of support from colleagues in various countries. Including Russians who emigrated from Russia. And that support really goes a long way. But before that … I was only getting questions from our [foreign] partners about whether concerts would take place…. No one seemed to care what was actually going on in Ukraine…. You can imagine how stressed we are.”

Note: The situation in Ukraine is changing drastically; the above article provides accurate reportage as of 2/24. The Kyiv Symphony Orchestra has a concert with baritone Matthias Goerne scheduled for early March in Kyiv, but that concert is highly unlikely to occur.