- Reading time
- 5 min.
One year after the Russian invasion, La Monnaie aims to keep this tragic and ruthless conflict, and its countless victims, in memory through several initiatives.
On Sunday 19 February, La Monnaie expressed its solidarity with the Ukrainian people during the symphonic concert Don Juan. The programme featured the Piano Concerto No.2 for the left Hand (1924) by Ukrainian composer Sergei Bortkiewicz, a way of highlighting a repertoire and culture that is still too little known - and whose sheer existence is denied by the Russian regime. The solo part was performed the 21-year-old Ukrainian pianist Illia Ovcharenko, whose family in Chernihiv still faces the consequences of the war every day. As many as 559 Ukrainian citizens were able to attend his brilliant performance for free.
The programming of Reinhold Glière’s Symphony no. 3, named after Ukrainian ‘epic knight’ Ilya Muromets, is also a commemorative moment. The work, the key piece during the concert on 22 April, also raises the question of the recovery of artists by a particular regime, a discussion we are also keen to have during a public debate with European and Ukrainian intellectuals (date and info to follow in the coming weeks).
Finally, on May 15, soprano Olga Peretyatko - the daughter of a Ukrainian mother and a Russian father - will also pay a vibrant tribute to Ukraine during her first recital at La Monnaie. Her program is devoted to the most beautiful melodies of Slavic music, including works by the unjustly overlooked Ukrainian composers Mykhaylo Zherbin and Heorhiy Mayboroda.
The façade of La Monnaie, which is illuminated in the yellow and blue colours every night, has recently been adorned with a giant image of the theatre of Mariupol. That was completely destroyed on 16 March 2022 after an air raid, despite the fact that hundreds of people were sheltering in it at the time. Posters on the outer walls of La Monnaie too give visibility to the destruction of Ukrainian architecture. Their ‘before and after’ poignantly shows how devastating this war is and the lasting scars it leaves.
It is a way of reminding us all of what is happening only 2000 kilometres from Brussels and is no longer unthinkable elsewhere. It’s also a reminder that the international artistic community is particularly vulnerable in these circumstances.