‘Something to fight for’: Music and the Ukrainian conflict

Professor Kevin Malone of The University of Manchester’s Department of Music has produced new music for the Ukrainian Composers Union amid the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Prof Malone, Professor of Social and Autoethnographic Composition at Manchester, has visited Ukraine 11 times over the past two decades, with over a dozen pieces premiered and broadcast on their national TV and radio networks. 

With Ukraine enduring a war of survival for its identity and cultural, the country's Composers Union reached out to Prof Malone for some new music and support. 

Prof Malone has been providing personal assistance since March 2022, including help with this year's defiant Kyiv Music Fest held from 24 September to 2 October. The organiser, Igor Shcherbakov, stated that – for the first year ever – not one penny was used from state funding so as to not drain any part of Ukraine's fight against Putin's war. 

The Composer's Union President commissioned Prof Malone to write a piano piece, the politically-charged The People Protesting Drum Out Bigly Covfefe (a recent anti-Trump administration work). The music consists of chants Prof Malone has heard at UK and USA rallies over the past six years, carefully notated and then scored as a piano fantasy re-enacting the voice of oppressed and unheard peoples. The piece was performed in Kyiv but not officially listed within the festival programme, since it could be wilfully misconstrued. 

“The sheer bravery of the festival organisers, musicians, venue managers and audience comes as no surprise: their world-class artistry is something to fight for,” said Prof Malone.

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