The Ukrainian choir has been working in Brussels for around two years. The choir members are Ukrainians who moved to Belgium because of the war. The artistic director and active participants shared how the idea to create the choir came about and what missions, beyond the cultural one, it fulfills.

Ukrainian Liliia Depo found herself in Belgium at the beginning of summer 2022. She felt quite confused, as did many other Ukrainian women around her. As a professional musician who graduated from the Lviv State Music Academy, Liliia Pavlivna decided to unite Ukrainian refugees through Ukrainian songs. Later, the singing group became a real choir, rehearsing at the Ukrainian Cultural Center (known today as Prostir) from Promote Ukraine.

“The choir is above all about communication,” admits the artistic director of the choir, Liliia Depo. “At first, the rehearsals were completely different. We talked a lot, shared how we ended up in Belgium, gave advice, helped each other, and then sang with pleasure.”

Active participants — Halyna Vlizko and Tetiana Nechyporenko — emphasize the important therapeutic mission of the choir. Halyna admits that as soon as she learned about the creation of the choir, she immediately decided to join because she needed to communicate with Ukrainians.

“Visiting the Ukrainian cultural center is my life. I remember the first visits of the choir. We sang anyway, despite the small number of participants who came to rehearsals. I invited many members of the choir, and they regularly attend rehearsals to this day,” says Halyna Vlizko.

Tetiana Nechyporenko also mentions that the Ukrainian choir has become an outlet. Communication with Ukrainians and singing became her medicine from the war.

“The choir in Brussels is like a part of Ukraine here in Belgium, so it is very important for me to sing in the choir, communicate with Ukrainians, and convey our culture, our songs to Europeans,” Tetiana Nechyporenko emphasizes.

The members of the choir are mostly amateurs; currently, there is only one professional musician who worked at a Kyiv music school. A few more participants sang in amateur or church choirs in Ukraine. Despite this, the performances of the Ukrainian choristers receive standing ovations and are very popular with both Ukrainian and European audiences. One of the choir’s first performances took place on Ukraine’s Independence Day in 2022. The participants sang Ukrainian songs in the central square of Brussels. This was followed by an unforgettable performance in the European Parliament, where the Ukrainian choristers performed the anthem of the European Union in English and Ukrainian.

Currently, the choir members are actively preparing for a performance at Bozar. They say this is another challenge because they will sing songs in French, English, and Dutch written by contemporary composers.

“It is not very easy for us because these songs are written for a full choir — two male and two female parts. And we mostly have a female choir, so there are certain difficulties, plus the other music and foreign languages. At first, it seemed to me that we would not overcome it, but step by step, it is coming together,” says Liliia Depo.

It will be possible to support Ukrainians at the Festival of Amateur Choirs, Let’s Zing Ensemble, at Bozar on June 23. Entrance is free. More information is available via the link.

If you have a desire to join the choir as part of the Creating Bridges project, contact, Telegram or come every Thursday at 18:00 to Prostir.

“𝐂𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐁𝐫𝐢𝐝𝐠𝐞𝐬” is an initiative supported by the European Commission’s “Creative Europe” program. It enables war victims to find a home in Europe (and Belgium) through art.

Author: Kseniia Breslavska

Photo: Archive of Promote Ukraine

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