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[Herald Interview] Moscow-born cellist leads Ukrainian orchestra in South KoreaBy Hwang Joo-young
Published : July 30, 2023 - 22:54
PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province -- On Saturday afternoon at the Alpensia Resort Concert Hall, a special concert took place as part of the Music in Pyeongchang festival.
Kyiv Virtuosi, a chamber orchestra hailing from the war-torn country, led by cellist and conductor Dmitry Yablonsky, performed a program of Mendelssohn’s “String Symphony No. 10 in B minor,” Berg’s “Sieben fruhe Lieder,” Mahler’s “Ruckert-Lieder” and Berliner’s “Jacob’s Dream.”
Kyiv Virtuosi was founded in 2016 by Yablonsky, who was born in Moscow in 1962 during the Soviet Union era, but now carries passports from the US, Spain and Israel.
Someone may wonder how a Moscow-born cellist could start a Ukrainian orchestra.
According to Yablonsky, he first met Kiev Soloists, Ukraine’s national chamber ensemble, as a cellist. Yablonsky’s long-term friendship and cooperation with the Ukrainian musicians led to the formation of Kyiv Virtuosi in 2016.
During Saturday's concert, he showed mastery in these two fields, performing as a cellist while also leading the orchestra in “Jacob’s Dream.”
Yablonsky has continued to perform and record with the orchestra even after the war in Ukraine disrupted their lives. The orchestra members and their families fled their homeland and are now living in Chieti, Italy.
“What's happening now, the worry for me, is totally ridiculous,” Yablonsky told The Korea Herald on Saturday. “I'm 60 years old but it turns out it's just unexplainable, but I can only blame all of us.”
“People say there's an animal in us, but animals only kill to eat. They don't kill more. They kill to eat, but we kill to kill,” Yablonsky added.
Yablonsky struggled with political instability from an early age. Having been threatened with death, he sought to escape the Soviet Union. It was not easy, taking years to convince the Soviet authorities to allow him and his mother to leave the country. After many obstacles, Yablonsky finally arrived in New York in 1977.
“When I was a kid I experienced such horrible things in the Soviet Union. We were not let go. People tortured us, and I stayed in an apartment for almost a year because the KGB called my mother, saying they wanted to kill me. I was only 13 years old.”
Looking back on his career, Yablonsky noted, “A great musician who will remain nameless has said the only positive experience in life is a negative one.”
After having performed in Goseong, Chuncheon and Pyeongchang last week, Yablonsky and Kyiv Virtuosi were to complete their engagement in Gangwon Provice with a concert in Donghae on Monday.
“South Korea to me is a wonderful democratic country. I'm very happy that South Korea has invited us to come here. There are only a few countries left that wouldn’t be scared of dealing with the Ukraine-Russia conflict," he said.
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