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Ukrainian National Anthem Cello Project Update

Ukrainian National Anthem Cello Project Update

When the war started one year ago, we at the Cello Museum, to quote the University of Oxford, were

“appalled by Russia’s action and in awe of the bravery shown by Ukrainians as well as the bravery of those Russians who have denounced their government’s aggression.”

The cello is my only weapon. - Casals #cellistsforpeace

Cellists for Peace

The great cellist and peacemaker Pau Casals once said,

“The cello is my only weapon.”

Cellist Mstislav Rostropovich played at the Berlin Wall. Yo-Yo Ma is a UN Messenger of Peace.

Following the long tradition of cellists working for peace, we were inspired to raise our voices as cellists. Cello Museum team member Gill Tennant suggested we bring together cellists from around the world to play the Ukrainian National Anthem to promote peace and support the Ukrainian people.

The result was the Cello Museum’s Ukrainian National Anthem Cello Project, in which cellists of all levels played “together” from afar. Over 225 cellists responded from around the world, and 146 are represented in the final video.

“Ukraine is my life!” – Vlad Primakov

A professional cellist from Ukraine, Vladyslav “Vlad” Primakov, registered for the project with the message, “Ukraine is my life!” We spoke with Primakov via Zoom at the end of March 2022. In addition to the performance of the Ukrainian National Anthem by 146 cellists, the final video for the project includes excerpts from this interview.

Read the first interview with Primakov.

We continue to stay in touch with Vlad. Here is our most recent official update from him:

Unofficially, Vlad has described how, while driving to work, a Russian rocket hit the area, and its shock wave of a Russian rocket damaged all of the windows. As a result, the solo he was scheduled to play with the orchestra was canceled, and they had to spend many hours in a bomb shelter. In addition, on that same day, two more rockets exploded in the next street over from where his mother lives, but thankfully his family was alright.

In the news, you might have heard about the Iranian drones targeting the energy infrastructure in Ukraine. Another unofficial report from Vlad confirmed that he and his family were feeling the effects of this but that he and his family were alright and confirmed that “we are not losing our faith!”

As he said in the audio update, the war is not over.

Ukrainian National Anthem Cello Project Video

The video for this project premiered on Sunday, 24 April 2022, at 1 PM EDT (New York time) on both YouTube and Facebook. It was in The Strad online as well as in the July print edition. Here is a press release, and below is the video.

Updates from the Cello Museum Family

The Cello Museum family responded to the Ukrainian National Anthem Cello Project, not only with project videos, but with information, many offers of help, an original composition, and additional videos. I passed along this outpouring of love and support for Ukraine to Vlad as it arrived in my inbox, but I also wanted to share as much of this as possible with everyone. Apologies for not having room here to include everything. Please feel free to add more links and information in the comments below.

Videos from the Cello Museum Family

An Original Composition by Ilay Kenes

Young cellist and composer Ilay Kenes wrote a guitar piece that he dedicated to the children of Ukraine called “Hope.” He gave a copy to guitarist Craig Ogden while speaking with him before a concert – and Ogden added it to the concert on the spot.

Craig Ogden, Ilay Kenes, and Nuri Kenes with the book containing Ilay's composition dedicated to the children of Ukraine called, "Hope."

Left to right: Nuri Kenes, Ilay Kenes, and guitarist Craig Ogden, with the book containing Ilay’s composition dedicated to the children of Ukraine called “Hope.”

Ilay has also arranged it as a duet for two cellos. See a performance of the two-cello version by Ilay and his sister, Nuri, below.

He has generously offered his sheet music for this two-cello version free for download, but he requests that if you use it, if possible, you make a donation to CRY (Care and Relief for the Young) or another charity that will benefit Ukraine, such as Vlad’s suggested charity. We’d also love to see your videos if you performed this work.

Download the sheet music here:

Thank you so much, Ilay!

An Update from Orkney

Cellist Gill Tennant, our Cello Museum researcher from Orkney, has sent us an update aimed at Ukrainians fleeing the conflict, but which will be of interest to anyone wanting to know more about this remote Scottish community. Gill was the one who originally had the idea to create the Ukrainian National Anthem Cello Project. She arranged the anthem and spearheaded the project.

Gill Tennant in the Orcadian regarding the Ukrainian National Anthem Cello Project

Gill Tennant in The Orcadian regarding the Ukrainian National Anthem Cello Project.

Gill has been working tirelessly on Orkney on behalf of Ukrainian refugees. She has even arranged some Ukrainian folk tunes for the cello, which we will publish soon. Want to listen to some of the most popular Ukrainian folk tunes? Here is a great link.

Helpful Information

In addition to Gill’s work to help refugees, many others offered to help and also sent me the following helpful links:

Our Second Project in Support of Ukraine

In the summer of 2022, when I met once more with Vlad via Zoom, he had the idea of creating another project together to support Ukraine. He arranged the Ukrainian folk melody “The Carol of the Bells” for cello ensemble and asked cellists from around the world to join him in playing this work for peace. This became our Carol of the Bells Around the World Cello Project.

At the time Vlad had planned to record his part of the project, Russian forces attacked Kyiv again. Vlad was concerned that he would not be able to play in the project after all. We asked Professor Jennifer Kloetzel for her help, and she and her students sent us wonderful videos – both for the project trailer and the final video. At the last minute, Vlad was also able to record, too. Here are both videos.


Carol of the Bells Around the World Cello Project


Keep Playing for Peace

We continue our call for peace in Ukraine. It has been just under a year since the country was attacked on 24 February 2022. We encourage you to keep playing for peace, sharing our #cellistsforpeace videos, and making donations directly to charities to help Ukraine and refugees.

Free PDFs of the Ukrainian National Anthem Sheet Music

Here is free sheet music for you to download for free to play (not for resale).

For several arrangements by Vlad Primakov, click here and scroll down the page to the bottom of the interview for downloadable PDFs.

Here are parts for Gill Tennant’s arrangement used in our video.

Vlad’s Cello Arrangement of Carol of the Bells

Download the sheet music and practice MP3s for Vlad Primakov’s arrangement of Carol of the Bells here. This sheet music is free for you to use but is not for resale. This arrangement is the work of Vlad Primakov. We recommend that you make a donation to a charity to help Ukraine if you use this sheet music.

Please Make a Donation Directly to Charity

Vlad Primakov helping in the war effort, getting people food and supplies.

Vlad Primakov (front right) helping in the war effort, distributing food and essential supplies to those who cannot leave their homes and refugees. Screenshot from the website of the charity where Vlad worked in western Ukraine.

Please donate directly to a charity of your choice. Vlad Primakov suggests this charity, where the money goes directly to help people in Ukraine. 

Join the #cellistsforpeace Movement

The Cello Museum is organizing new #cellistsforpeace projects this year, so that cellists can come together to make a difference in the world, addressing issues such as global warming (through a campaign to raise money to plant trees) and world hunger (through a project to raise money to donate to a charity to help feed the hungry).

Be sure to sign up for our #cellistsforpeace mailing list to be the first to hear about our cello projects.

Thank You

Thanks again to those who worked tirelessly on the Ukrainian National Anthem Cello Project video. Hundreds of hours were donated to make this possible so that all funds could go directly to charities to aid Ukraine.

  • Laura Sam                     Audio/Video Design and Editing
  • Brenda Neece               Project Manager, Graphic Design
  • Renate Kwon                Storyboard, Text Editing, Communications
  • Gill Tennant                  Project Idea, Music Arrangement, Publicity
  • Vladyslav Primakov    Anthem Advising
  • Kathryn Whitney         Project Submission Advising

Thank you to all of the cellists who participated in this project. Thank you to cello teachers who involved their students as well. Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word about this project.

Thank you to Professor Jennifer Kloetzel and her wonderful students for helping with the Carol of the Bells Around the World Project.

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