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Work of the Week – Valentin Silvestrov: Prayer for the Ukraine

The war in Ukraine continues to shock the whole world as millions of people are leaving their homes and communities in search of peace. Among them, the renowned Ukrainian composer, Valentin Silvestrov, who celebrates his 85thbirthday in September. Originally, Silvestrov did not want to leave Kiev, but as the war progressed he and his family were forced to flee to Berlin, where the composer has been living and composing since 8 March. His Prayer for the Ukraine, composed in 2014, is now seeing performances in concert halls around the world.

Music for peace – Prayer for the Ukraine by Valentin Silvestrov 

“Lord, protect the Ukraine. Give us power, faith and hope.Our Father.” This is the English translation of the Ukrainian text of Silvestrov’s composition for mixed unaccompanied choir. Silvestrov wrote the work in 2014, in response to the Ukrainian Euromaidan protests taking place to protest Russian troops occupying the Crimean peninsula. His response was a fight for his country through art, composing a number of choral works during this time, which were combined into his “Maiden Cycle of Cycles.” Prayer for the Ukraine forms a part of this cycle. In the devotional and yearning music, Silvestrov’s resistance is manifested through his unshakeable faith in the roots of Ukraines culture and religion. The past few weeks have seen two new versions of this work published by our partner publisher M.P. Belaieff. An arrangement for symphony orchestra by Andreas Gies, premiered on 2 March in Aalborg, Denmark, and subsequently a version for chamber orchestra by Eduard Resatsch, premiered in Germany by Bamberg Symphony Orchestra on 6 March. 

“What is happening now is a Maidan magnified a thousand times […] Maidan was a chamber version, a kind of trio or duet. And now it’s an orchestral version.” Valentin Silvestrov

To express solidarity with Ukraine, musicians are performing the work throughout the world. Upcoming concerts include performances in Barcelona, Warsaw, Sarajevo, Toronto, Cleveland, Auckland and Hamburg, alongside many others. Details and further dates can be found by following the links to the various versions of the work.



photo: Viktoria Kotlirchuk / Adobe Stock