Verbovaya Doschechka

Sometimes, even the shortest piece of music can hold a depth of feeling and meaning far beyond the time it has your attention.

An excellent example of this complex brevity is “A Gaelic Blessing” (which I posted here in August 2020 to mark the occasion of a friend’s ordination ceremony).

Today’s selection is another wonderful instance. There is so much emotion condensed into one minute and ten seconds that it takes considerable time afterward to process and consider the music, its context and meaning, and the feelings it evokes. That is especially so, given that a young Ukrainian violinist, Illia Bondarenko, plays a traditional Ukrainian spring song, “Verbovaya Doschechka” (“The Willow Board” or “The Willow Plank”) while in a basement seeking protection from Russian bombing.

The video below is a collection of Bondarenko and nine other sheltering Ukrainian violinists, joined by musicians representing 29 countries. Producers combined all the videos and meticulously mixed the sound so we can hear the 94 individual contributions to the whole. This type of video compilation will be very familiar to many people, as musicians used it extensively to simulate the unity of concerts during pandemic lockdowns over the past two years.

The United Kingdom-born violinist Kerenza Peacock connected with Ukrainian musicians on social media and decided to collaborate with them. An excerpt from the notes to the YouTube video post sums up her intention beautifully: “So we play an old Ukrainian folk song together across continents, called Verbovaya Doschechka. Never before have violinists gathered together from so many countries. Or collaborated across so many different styles of violin playing. Violinists are a fellowship who all have rosin and broken E strings in common, but sadly some are currently having to think about how to arm themselves, and hiding in bomb shelters instead of playing Beethoven or bluegrass. Some more Ukrainians wanted to take part, but now have guns in their hands instead of violins.”

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here is the video for “Verbovaya Doschechka” from the ViolinistsSupportUkraine YouTube channel. The video post also points to ways one can support aid for the people of Ukraine.

And, here’s a recent BBC interview of Peacock and Bondarenko, posted on Bondarenko’s YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

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