A highly respected Ukrainian pianist and composer and a former Bond girl are bringing the cultural spirit of Ukraine to Chester in November to raise much needed funds for children’s hospitals in the war-ravaged country. Musician Alla Sirenko and actress Maryam d’Abo (Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights) present The Spirit of Ukraine at Storyhouse on Friday, November 25 at 7pm, hosted by author and former BBC newsreader Diana Mather.
The programme of popular classical operatic arias and duets, Ukrainian folk songs, original music by Alla Sirenko, poetry and a visual display of the country by Paul Cascarino, has been put together by The Ukrainian Cultural Association in the UK in partnership with the Rotary Club of Tarporley and District.
Born in Lviv, Alla – a graduate of three conservatories – was composer in residence for the Lviv Opera House where her opera and ballets were part of the theatre’s repertoire. She has composed film scores for EMI, Sony and Warner and her fantasy opera for children The Golden Penguin premiered at the Royal Opera House in London.
Founder and president of the Ukrainian Cultural Association in the United Kingdom (UCA-UK), her aim is to promote the best Ukrainian talent at the same time as raising much needed funds for the people of her homeland. She personally delivers life-saving equipment to hospitals in Kyiv and Lviv, travelling hours from Poland by car with doctors in her expanding network.
She said: “Music, art and singing are in the blood of the Ukrainian people, in spite of bombings, loss and grief there. You saw that recently when people sheltering in a tube station in Kyiv started singing traditional songs together.
“I think of us as cultural soldiers, wanting to share our beautiful music, songs, poetry and art with the people of Chester at the same time as helping the most vulnerable people in this war.”
Dr Ann Williams, Chair of the International Committee of the Rotary Club of Tarporley and District, has a distinguished career teaching English as a foreign language and is now using her skills with Ukrainian refugees living in Cheshire.
She said: “We are spending a lot of time teaching Ukrainian refugees about our language and culture which they have wholly embraced. It’s now time for us to enjoy learning more about the culture of their beautiful country at the same time as raising desperately needed funds for sick children in Ukraine’s war-torn hospitals.”
Other artists performing at The Spirit of Ukraine concert include Greek-Australian soprano Elena Xanthoudakis (Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, ENO and Scottish Opera) and British-Ukrainian mezzo-soprano Rozanna Madylus (English National Opera, Birmingham Operatic Company and Wexford Festival Opera). Ukrainian artists Dmytro Dobrovolsky and Andriy Nekrasov will also exhibit their atmospheric landscapes and still life at Storyhouse.
Tickets for the one-off concert are available from Storyhouse.com. All proceeds will go towards purchasing much needed equipment for children’s hospitals in Kyiv and Lviv.