European Union Youth Orchestra statement on the invasion of Ukraine by Russia

02/03/2022 - The EUYO wishes to put on record, in the strongest possible terms, its utter condemnation and abhorrence at the violence, bloodshed, loss of life and catastrophic disruption to civilised life currently being horrifically inflicted upon the people of Ukraine. The Orchestra, as cultural ambassador for the EU, is not and never should be a political institution, yet the extremity of the events unfolding leave it with no option but to take a stand and express its solidarity with the country. As an orchestra comprising young people from all 27 EU member states, and with alumni from 28 European countries, we are devoted to international understanding, harmony, respect for others and the importance of Unity in Diversity. On behalf of all of our members, alumni and artists, we add our voice to calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

The EUYO is now announcing the cancellation of pianist Denis Matsuev’s planned concerts with the Orchestra in August of this year, as well as any of our artists who feel unable to unequivocally condemn the invasion. At the same time, notwithstanding our appreciation of the challenges that many ordinary Russians face, we are also cancelling all current plans for performances in Russia.

Our chief conductor Vasily Petrenko has written that “The tragedy unfolding in Ukraine is already one of the greatest moral failures and humanitarian disasters of our century. The historic and cultural ties between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, of which I am proud, can never be used to justify Russia’s invasion. In response to these terrible events, I have decided to suspend my work in Russia, including all future commitments as Artistic Director of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia ‘Evgeni Svetlanov’, until peace has been restored. I believe in the promotion of friendship and understanding across all boundaries. Peace must be restored as soon as possible.”

We are aware that the invasion has shattered the life of so many involved in cultural activity in Ukraine, not least all of the country’s many fellow-musicians. Meanwhile we are pleased to announce that we are now issuing an invitation to the Ukraine Youth Orchestra and its Chief Conductor Oksana Lyniv to explore a partnership agreement with the European Union Youth Orchestra. Finally, we look forward to a future in which peace and international friendship allows the Orchestra to again extend its work to all nations, as has been its habit since its inception in 1976.  Until then we stand with the people of Ukraine.