New European Ensemble

The program of Music for Change that will be performed during the festival The People United of Classical NOW was conceived by pianist Hanna Shybayeva (Belarus), cellist Maya Fridman (Russia) and percussionist Konstantyn Napolov (Ukraine). The three musicians have been living and working in the Netherlands for a long time, but still feel strongly connected to their native countries, where life is being completely turned upside down.

Belarus is known as one of the few European countries with an underlying dictatorship. In the summer of 2020, the Belarusian authorities unleashed a wave of violence against their own population. Peaceful protests against yet another fraudulent election result were crushed by brutal police action. Thousands of people disappeared in prisons. More than a thousand dissidents remain locked up to this day, convicted of trumped-up crimes, without legal counsel. Thousands of people have been forced to flee their countries to avoid persecution. This has led to a strong Belarusian opposition movement in Western Europe and a cultural movement. In exile, the contradiction shows that the Belarusian population groans under the reign of terror in their country.

Russian violence
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 sent shock waves through the international community. In Russia, too, an unprecedented number of people took to the streets in protest against Russian violence in Ukraine, demanding an immediate end to this war. Many Russian artists, public figures, but also ordinary people vigorously resisted the invasion. It led to repression and violence from which many Russians suffer.

Benefit concerts
In Western Europe, helping refugees is in the foreground. In recent months, many benefit concerts and events have been organized to raise money and relief supplies for Ukraine. These concerts are often the result of close collaboration between Russian and Belarusian musicians and artists.

The concert on May 19, Music For Change, offers a stage to the current generation of composers from these areas. We show and hear that music from Ukraine or Belarus is just as valuable as the music from Russia that is more familiar to the general public. And that is necessary, because it is believed that Belarusian and traditional music is nothing more than an addition to Russian musical life: music from the periphery. One of the main goals of this concert is to show that the three music cultures are collectively equal.

Hanna Shybayeva: “We will hear new work by Kanstantin Yaskou, one of the most important Belarusian contemporary composers. His Ludus Mobilis embraces the sense of connection between the three countries. The piece evolves live on stage through improvisation, the musicians create it together. Oxana Omelchuk composed her Nocturne for ensemble and electronics just after the first Belarusian protests of 2020. The piece gives voice to the nightmare, the state of those days. When I first heard it, I immediately felt it.”

Art connects
Unfortunately, the war has also driven people apart and leads to fear, denial of other cultures and even censorship. We believe that art should be a beacon of light for society. That is why we want to introduce a wide audience to the three cultures from three neighboring countries, which are close to each other, but are also autonomous, each with its own character.

Info & tickets
Classical NOW! The People United
Music for Change
May 19th 2023, de Paleiskerk, Den Haag
Buy tickets for this concert here!

After the concert, pianist Hanna Shybayeva will speak about her movement Music For Belarus. This movement was founded to unite musicians in various countries through concerts and to inform society about the current political situation in Belarus.
By generating income from these live and online concerts, Music For Belarus wants to financially support the political prisoners in Belarus and their families.