Music For Change

​6 March 2022 – ​​The Music for Change programme to be performed during The People United of Classical NOW festival was conceived by pianist Hanna Shybayeva (Belarus), cellist Maya Fridman (Russia) and percussionist Konstantyn Napolov (Ukraine). The three musicians have been living and working in the Netherlands for a long time, but still feel a strong connection to their home countries, where life is being turned upside down.

Belarus is known as one of the few European countries with an underlying dictatorship. In the summer of 2020, the Belarusian authorities unleashed a wave of violence against their own people. Peaceful protests against yet another rigged election were crushed by a brutal police crackdown. Thousands of people have disappeared into prisons. More than a thousand dissidents remain locked up to this day, convicted of trumped-up crimes, without legal representation. Thousands of people have been forced to flee the country to escape persecution. This has given rise to a strong Belarusian opposition movement in Western Europe and a cultural movement. In exile, the contradiction shows that the Belarusian people are groaning under the reign of terror in their country.

Russian violence
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February sent shock waves through the international community. In Russia, too, unprecedented numbers of people took to the streets to protest against Russian violence in Ukraine and to demand an immediate end to the war. Many Russian artists and public figures, as well as ordinary people, vigorously opposed the invasion. It led to repression and violence from which many Russians are suffering.

Benefit concerts
In Western Europe, many benefit concerts and events have been organised to raise money and supplies for Ukraine. These concerts are often the result of close collaboration between Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian musicians and artists.

The concert on 19 May, Music For Change, will give a stage to the current generation of composers from these areas. We show and hear that music from Ukraine or Belarus is just as valuable as music from Russia, which is more familiar to the general public. And this is necessary, because it is believed that Belarusian and traditional music is nothing more than an addition to Russian musical life: music from the periphery. One of the main goals of this concert is to show that the three musical cultures are collectively equal.

Hanna Shybayeva: "We will hear new works by Kanstantin Yaskou, one of the most important contemporary Belarusian composers. His Ludus Mobilis embraces the sense of connection between the three countries. The piece evolves through improvisation live on stage, as the musicians create it together. Oxana Omelchuk composed her Nocturne for ensemble and electronics shortly after the first Belarusian protests in 2020. The piece gives voice to the nightmare, the condition of those days. When I heard it for the first time, I immediately felt it.

Art unites
Unfortunately, the war has also driven people apart, leading to fear, denial of other cultures and even censorship. We believe that art should be a beacon of light for society. That is why we want to introduce to a wide audience the three cultures of three neighbouring countries, which are close to each other but also autonomous, each with its own character.

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