Banish dark thoughts with music

16/03/2022 Juliana Széchenyi

Medium: nedeljski dnevnik
Date: Wed 16 Mar 2022

SLOVENIA SO FIND HANGOVER YOUTH MEMBERS UKRAINIAN ORCHESTRA Despite the situation they find themselves in, they are not giving up and are striving towards their mission, the hope of becoming professional musicians Meta Černoga Foto: Tomaž Skale More than two million people have had to leave their homes because of the conflict in Ukraine.

The humanitarian catastrophe in the middle of Europe has also affected young people who are just beginning their journey. Some have taken refuge in Slovenia. In addition to the young footballers staying in Logatec, musicians have arrived in large groups. Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. We visited them at the Celica Hostel in Ljubljana, where they are currently staying. Sofija, a 16-year-old flautist from Lviv, said that their journey to Slovenia has been very difficult. "We came from different parts of Ukraine and found the opportunity to be here now. I left my two brothers and my dog in Ukraine. These are difficult times for us, art in Ukraine is at its lowest level because of the war." The musicians who have come to Slovenia are aged up to eighteen, the youngest member is seven. Many came alone, without their parents. They were given a ticket and hoped to reach Slovenia safely. The whole operation went very quickly, she said. Živa Ploj Peršuh, artistic director Slovenian Youth Orchestra (SMO) and conductor SNG Ljubljana Opera and Ballet. "Watching the massacre in Ukraine, we called the head of the Ukrainian orchestra and asked what they needed. They asked us to bring young orchestra members from different cities in Ukraine. Their manager works with our producer, she knew where they were, where they were hiding, how they were going to get to the train stations... We communicated through online channels, we took coordinates and contacted the relevant Slovenian services, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Municipality of Ljubljana, Perutnina Ptuj helped us, in short, we involved everyone we felt could help us. Then came the tedious bureaucratic red tape at the border. First 60 musicians came, and today (Tuesday) we are expecting 40 more. Unfortunately, there are not many chaperones, the young people are travelling alone, with a rucksack, a bag .... There are only a few boys because they are not allowed to cross the border, so far there are three." Coming from practically the whole of Ukraine, it is even more difficult, because transport has to be organised, the trains are overcrowded with people fleeing the war, and the young people are travelling alone and have to manage somehow. It is a youth orchestra of Ukraine, which works in a similar way to ours, so it involves young musicians from different parts of the country. They are based in Kiev or Lviv, where they organise festivals. According to the Slovenian orchestra Live Ploj Peršuh has not yet worked directly with them, but they are linked through the European Youth Orchestras Alliance. In July, both the Slovenian and the Ukrainian orchestras are expected to become members of the Alliance. They are currently staying in hostels Celica and Trezor, but are looking for a network of homestays and individual accommodation. "I am delighted that people are responding very warmly to this appeal. We expect that we will be able to place quite a few of them in flats, rooms and thus complete this most urgent part. We are helped by a network of donations that goes beyond the borders of Slovenia, international partners have responded, we are appealing to the big orchestras, institutions that are helping us. Accommodation is the most difficult to find and the most expensive," says the artistic director. But they want to get the young musicians into normal life as soon as possible, to start musical activities, rehearsals... They have also already made contact with teachers, who have responded very positively. "We want them to get into a structured form of education as soon as possible. These are young people who chase away their gloomy thoughts with the thought of music. Despite the situation they find themselves in, they are not giving up and are striving towards their mission, the hope of becoming professional musicians. That is why we need to treat them as normal people as soon as possible, to integrate them as young people, not as refugees," he reflects on the way forward. Živa Ploj Peršuh. Pianist Oksana Solomaha, who came to Slovenia with her daughter, said that the young musicians adapted quickly and are extremely brave. She goes on to talk about how difficult the journey was, as she and her daughter had to change four trains to get to the border, there was no direct connection, there were lots of people fleeing Ukraine everywhere. "Now that we've come here, everything seems so past, so beautiful. Everything is changing... I am grateful that my daughter and I are at peace, that's all that matters. Now I understand what music means in these difficult times. It's also a way for young people to protect themselves. I can hear them playing in their rooms." Her 15-year-old daughter Olga plays the flute and tells of how she played, sang and danced almost all afternoons and into the night in Ukraine. She dances modern dances, including Ukrainian national and classical dances. She goes to ballet school. After two days in Ljubljana, she says she likes the city, that the people are very good: "I have never eaten such delicious food! We can get everything we like. I'm grateful to everyone," adds the young musician, who can't wait to meet the Slovenian members of the orchestra. SMO, featuring the most promising musicians aged 12 to 22. New members are invited to join the orchestra every summer. During a multi-day residency with leading professional orchestral musicians, these outstanding young participants prepare a programme which they then present in concerts, while performing as dynamic musical ambassadors. Perspective Orchestras Slovenian Youth Orchestra was established in 2019 in collaboration with international and domestic partners. "We believe that the orchestra will become a cultural representative that will be able to stand alongside all the most prominent youth orchestras from most countries that have been active for decades. EU, and around the world. Domestic and international cooperation to date has shown that we are on the right track. The orchestra is dedicated to socialising and creating in music, to enthusiasm for the art of music and the arts in general, to making friends and to progressing," says the Slovenian orchestra, where young people are building musical, cultural and social bridges with drive, determination, courage and will. The importance of these was also evident when they saw the plight of their peers. The Ukrainian Youth Orchestra was founded in 2016. At that time, three German partner institutions - the Beethoven Festival Bonn, the Federal Youth Orchestra of Germany and Deutsche Welle - invited Oksana Liniv as conductor for their annual Campus project, which brings together young musicians from Germany and abroad. She proposed the creation of Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, modelled on the Federal Youth Orchestra of Germany. All parties supported the idea and prepared all the necessary arrangements for the creation of the orchestra, which brought together the best musicians from both countries.