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Songs for Ukraine VII
“I’ve seen the needles and the damage done,
A little part of it in everyone.” - Neil Young
One of the things I love most about being a journalist is that I get to learn about so many different people, places, and subjects through the stories people tell me. Today’s interview with Kateryna Voroniuk - a Ukrainian musician - is no exception. But there is another special and very compelling twist to her tale. Kateryna is still living in and writing music about her experiences in war-torn Ukraine. The best way to describe this music is to let it speak for itself. The title of the piece is “Grushechka: The new meaning of the folk song.” Have a listen.
My first reaction to Grushechka was, “Ouch,” and I still can’t listen to it without wincing. It is beautiful, haunting, but most of all brutal - a gut punch to the heart and soul. Also, a rude awakening for those of us who have never had bombs rain down on our homes.
Kateryna has this to say about the piece. “Grushechka was originally a Ukrainian folk song. At the beginning of the war, I had absolutely no intention of writing anything. It was physically difficult to do anything at all. You were always in an anxious state. Whenever the air raid sirens went off, you were afraid that a rocket would fly into your house.
“Once, while remembering this lovely original song I thought, ‘It will not be performed this way again for a long time.’ It was sad. Like all Ukrainians, I don’t understand why Putin simply wants to destroy the Ukrainian nation and everything that we have created - bomb it, trample it. The Ukrainian song is not the same. It is saturated with explosions. But still, it survives.”
A Bit About Kateryna
Kateryna was born in Odesa (Оде́са in Ukrainian). Odesa is the third most populous city in Ukraine and a major seaport and transport hub located in the southwest part of the country on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea.
Kateryna was first introduced to music in kindergarten when her parents decided she needed music skills. She started with piano lessons, which she says, “I hated until I started to compose. After that, the piano inspired me to move forward with my music.”
After her initial introduction to music through the piano, Kateryna studied Music Composition at Nezhdanova, the Odesa National Music Academy. The music she writes for herself is always a reflection of her deepest feelings (experiences). Almost anything can be an inspiration, from a random phrase to the terrible sounds of war. “The word ‘inspiration’ for me does not just mean a creative musical upsurge,” says Kateryna. ‘It is a sharp experience of what is happening around me. I always start from the emotional state I want the listener to enter. Sometimes it happens that in the process of writing a creation, the music itself takes me to another dimension. This is an incredible state when you kind of lose control over it and there is a feeling that someone else is leading your work by the hand."
Coming to Terms with War
Although Kateryna had several opportunities to evacuate she decided to stay. “On the first day of the war, my whole family moved to my husband's parents’ home because it was the only place with a basement where we could hide from the bombings.”
The attack on Ukraine has had a profound effect on Kateryna both personally and professionally. “The war has changed all of us a lot. We are strongly united, and everyone has become a volunteer. It is impossible to act differently when it comes to the future of your country and your loved ones.”
Kateryna describes her situation and mindset as optimistic. “I am not in the worst position. I am in Odesa, where there is water, electricity, and heating. The stores have the necessary products. But I fear for my life. I fear for the life of my family. After all, despite the general calmness of the city, rockets fly to Odesa almost every day.
“I am infinitely grateful to our military, located in Odessa. They are professionals and every day they repel attacks on our city with the help of air defense. Near us is the city of Mykolaiv, which is bombarded by rockets every day. People in the city have no water. This is very close to our city and at any moment we can find ourselves in the same situation if Mykolaiv does not resist.”
A Message to the World
“War is the worst thing that can happen to you,” Kateryna says. “And only by common efforts can we defeat this evil. I want to draw as much attention as possible to our tragedy. People should know what horror can happen in a democratic, civilized country in the 21st century. We are a small country, but we can survive. And the whole world can help us.
“People from all over the world are helping Ukraine. But our army still needs help. I would like to ask everyone to donate any amount to our army if you want to help.
I will be featuring Kateryna’s work in one of my 3D builds in Second Life. SLURLs and LMs to the various sites can be found here: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/GoldLand/236/29/21
You can hear more of Kateryna’s music by visiting the two YouTube links below:
Most Recent: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvtjd857YK46GQm_jq6WZAw
Earlier Work: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCffbnAD4GKtBF4Xf9OUWN3Q
Contact Kateryna on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katheryna_v/
I will leave you with another one of Kateryna’s pieces that has touched me deeply entitled, “Immortal Station” and the simple request she ended her email with: “Pray for our army and for the whole of Ukraine!”
Copyright 2022 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.