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In a gesture of solidarity with the victims of the war in Ukraine, we're partnering with the Scottish Government to welcome the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra for a historic free concert at the Usher Hall on Saturday 6 August 2022 at 2pm.

Marking the orchestra’s only performance in Scotland, this concert is part of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra’s European and USA tour in artistic defence of its country.

Edinburgh is twinned with the city of Kyiv, and this special collaboration between the International Festival and the Scottish Government is in support of the city’s Ukrainian community and those directly affected by the war.

The special concert will see invitations extended to the Ukrainian community in Scotland and organisations leading efforts in the resettlement of Ukrainian refugees, as well as those supporting people impacted by the conflict.

Assembled by New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera, the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra includes recent refugees, Ukrainian members of European orchestras and leading Ukrainian musicians and performers. The Ukraine Ministry of Culture is granting a special exemption to military-age, male members of orchestras inside the country to participate, allowing them to put down weapons and take up their instruments in a demonstration of the power of art over adversity.

Under the leadership of Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson, the orchestra’s repertoire includes Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov’s Seventh Symphony; Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Ukrainian virtuoso Anna Fedorova; and leading Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska performing an aria from Verdi’s Aida.

Seventy-five years after Rudolf Bing, himself a refugee, co-founded the Edinburgh International Festival, the 2022 programme reflects the organisation’s rich history of promoting unity and healing through cultural collaboration. The 2022 Festival includes a lecture on the importance of the arts and culture from Peter Gelb, General Manager of New York’s Metropolitan Opera, presented in association with Edinburgh Jewish Cultural Centre in memory of Rudolf Bing.

The 2022 International Festival also features Refuge, a season of contemporary theatre, dance, visual art, film and conversation created to explore themes of refugeehood, migration, identity and inclusion.

Free tickets for the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra’s concert at the Usher Hall will be available to book online from mid-July 2022, with further information to follow.

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director of the Edinburgh International Festival said, "The staff and board of the Festival are honoured to be given the opportunity to welcome our colleagues from Ukraine and offer them our support and solidarity at this time."

Neil Gray, Minister for Culture and Refugees from Ukraine said: "The Scottish Government is delighted to provide the support to enable the Ukraine Freedom Orchestra of more than 70 displaced Ukrainian professional musicians to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival in August.

“The Edinburgh International Festival was first created to bring together Europeans suffering in the shadow of war, and as the festival celebrates its 75th anniversary it has never been more appropriate to underline its founding principles of peace, collaboration and solidarity.

“Scotland has responded to the present crisis by offering a warm welcome to those Ukrainians fleeing the brutal invasion of their country – and we offer the same warm welcome to these wonderful musicians. I am sure this historic free concert will be one of the highlights of this year’s cultural celebrations in Edinburgh.”

Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukrainian Minister of Culture said: “Today, culture is showing a completely new side. It can also be the ‘soft power’ that helps heal wounds. Ukrainian culture is original and deserves to be at the centre of attention abroad. We thank our international colleagues for producing the tour.”

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