A Sound of Transcendent Beauty and Defiance from the Bomb Shelters of Ukraine

The world has watched in utter disgust at the wanton destruction of Ukraine by Russia. However, in the very midst of the ruins left in the wake of this invasion, the indomitable spirit and beauty of humanity has broken through in the actions of brave Ukrainians. The video below is one of the most beautiful and inspiring moments that I have seen. It is overwhelming and I wanted to share it with anyone who has not seen it.  It shows 94 violinists in 29 countries joining young Ukrainian violinist Illia Bondarenko as he plays in a bunker with the Russian onslaught attacking Kyiv above him.

There are nine other young violinists in bomb shelters in the video and they are joined by some of the greatest violinists in the world from  the London Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, the Hollywood Studios, and other cities. They are playing the Ukrainian folk song Verbovaya Doschechka.

It shows how beauty and humanity can rise even above the bombs and savagery of war.

There is also this beautiful scene of a woman in a bomb shelter playing for her fellow Ukrainians:

74 thoughts on “A Sound of Transcendent Beauty and Defiance from the Bomb Shelters of Ukraine”

  1. I was surprised at some of the comments made by readers of this piece. It felt similar to reading comments at rt.com.

    1. Gina+Halford+Merritt @5:59

      As a stand alone video of a musician playing in a bomb shelter it would have been, as you remark: “beautiful and moving”.

      However, transformed into showing “94 violinists in 29 countries joining young Ukrainian violinist Illia Bondarenko as he plays in a bunker with the Russian onslaught attacking Kyiv above him.” as Prof. Turley describes it is as authentic as Milli Vanilli, and deserving of every bit as much credibility and respect as they earned.

      The faked Zoom screen of violinists and fiddlers is integral to the conversion of the original video into propaganda that manipulates the emotions of the unwitting. It was also the first clue that the production was as phony as a White Helmets propaganda video. The web does not work as depicted, and the depiction is internally inconsistent.

      This video is most useful as an educational tool in how propaganda is constructed. Much propaganda starts with a sliver of empathetic factual material as this one does, a violinist playing in a bomb shelter, ostensibly as a war rages overhead. It segues from that into a larger meme of nearly 100 musicians playing together in world wide solidarity and in resistance of an evil enemy.

      Propaganda like this plays on emotions to distract from the observable reality that this war in the Ukraine was the desired outcome of the Administration and the bipartisan crowd of warmongering neocons who have brought us forever wars. The US has killed more than 1M civilians since 911, we have far surpassed Idi Amin in the pantheon of mass murderers.

      We have swept horrors and war crimes under the rug, things like Hellfire missiles devastating wedding parties, the torture of POWs, the destruction of Fallujah in Iraq with more than 20,000 artillery shells, the utter destruction of Raqqa in Syria, the ongoing slaughter of Yemenis by the Saudis with our continuing support, etc, etc, etc. This week ISIL terrorists have traveled from Syria to the Ukraine to be our allies against the evil Russians. All has been done with no outpouring of outrage like we have fomented against the Russians in the Ukraine.

      Propaganda videos like this are designed to stir emotions that allow Americans to remain in denial as our country murders its way to the end of the world. Winston Smith would understand why you found the video “beautiful and moving”.

  2. Karen+S @2:53

    So, it’s just as I said, those people never played together live as it is presented in the video. It is made up, it is not a real performance.

    The worst mistake we can make is believing our own propaganda.

  3. Anonymouse 2:48

    No, not at all. On the contrary, I want to see him punished to the fullest extent. If he is to be punished, then let’s get on with it. Let’s set things in
    motion to that end. A push into Russia. A reward for his head. A coup or revolution.

  4. Here is the story how it came about.


    While practicing her scales on February 24, like many in the world, popular violinist Kerenza Peacock‘s attention was turned toward Ukraine.

    “So I took to Instagram and befriended some violinists in Ukraine. Some were also practicing their scales — in between arming themselves with Molotov cocktails. Some violinists were hiding in basements and bomb shelters in Kyiv, but still had their violins with them,” relates Peacock on the Violinists Support Ukraine website…

    “Devastated to hear the explosions were so close, and desperate to offer some comfort, I asked one of them, young virtuoso Illia Bondarenko, if he would film himself playing in his basement shelter,” says Peacock. “He had to film in between explosions because he could not hear himself.”

    Peacock eventually asked nine additional young Ukrainian violinists to play in unison with Bondarenko, as well as classical violinists and popular fiddlers from around the world to harmonize. The result is a video of a diverse, international violin chorus never before heard…

    “In the space of 48 hours, I received videos from 94 violinists, representing over 25 different countries,” says Peacock”

  5. It’s “America First”, not “America Only”. “America First” implies there is a Second, a Third, a Fourth, a Fifth, etc., after America. Why not consider Ukraine one of these other ordinal numbers?

    1. We are helping Ukraine in many ways: with weapons, military intelligence, sanctions against Russia, Temporary Protective Status for Ukrainian refugees, donations from citizens to non-profits providing help, …

  6. “A Sound of Transcendent Beauty and Defiance from the Bomb Shelters of Ukraine”

    – Professor Turley

    Those mellifluous tones are the siren’s song of World War III.

  7. Why does the author never publish a word about the 8 years of suffering in the Donbas area of Eastern Ukraine? Over 10k killed, 2 million displaced. The Banderista atrocities including mass graves? He gives no weight to Russian intelligence that a large scale attack was imminent. With the bio weapons and nuclear threats as well , could this “ special military operation” to “ demilitarize and de Nazify Ukraine almost seem like a just war?

    1. Ukraine hasn’t produced “bio weapons and nuclear threats” against Russia.

      Russia has no right to “demilitarize” Ukraine, and Russia is not “de Nazifying Ukraine.”

      No, it does NOT “almost seem like a just war.”

  8. When you are more courageous than the the cowards, the cowards will tear down your courage, because you are making them look bad in comparison, kind of like how Tonya Harding had Nancy Kerrigan beaten. They can’t fathom the idea that someone can actually be better than they are.

  9. It is a nice thought, but it is phony. It is propaganda produced to pull at your heart strings. Do you enjoy being so easily manipulated?

    The web is wonderful, but it does not work like that. Delay and latency prevent people worldwide from performing together live even in very small groups. Understanding that the video is a lie is as simple as watching it and seeing seeing that bows are not moving in time with each other. The people pictured are not playing together.

    Web based music collaboration apps are miraculous, but they are audio only but still will not support anything approaching the number of players or geographic spread pictured. Additionally, video sops up so much band width that it makes synchronization an even more insurmountable problem.

    1. Why do you care? Can’t you just enjoy the beauty of the music and thought that someone wanted to put out there?

  10. This called to mind a documentary that I recommend: Defiant Requiem, about the power of music in the performances of Verdi’s Requiem by prisoners, for other prisoners, at the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt/Terezín in 1943 and 1944, led by prisoner/conductor Rafael Schächter.
    More info at defiantrequiem.org

  11. What good does it do to declare an action as a war crime? Doing so doesn’t stop, and hasn’t stopped, any subsequent war crimes. It doesn’t let the wrongdoer know he is in hot water, and make him stop. Is the Justice fairy supposed to materialize, wave her magic wand, and avenge it on the spot?

    1. I encourage you to watch Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz. Ferencz is the last surviving prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials. Would you argue that the Nazis should not have been tried for war crimes?

      Here’s the trailer:

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