The National Ensemble of Soloists “Kyiv Camerata” will repeat the program of the New York Carnegie Hall concert on May 30 in Kyiv at the National Philharmonic with conductor Kerry Lynn Wilson. The internationally acclaimed Kerri Lynn Wilson, a Canadian of Ukrainian descent, has supported Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion. In 2022, at the initiative of the Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera, the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra was created, consisting exclusively of Ukrainian musicians. The orchestra was led by Wilson.

Keri-Lynn Wilson’s career as a conductor of opera and symphonic music includes many of the world’s leading opera houses and symphony orchestras. Among the opera companies she has conducted most recently are the Royal Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, the Paris Opera and the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Amongst the orchestras she has most recently led are the NHK Symphony, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, and the Bruckner Orchestra of Linz.

Please tell us about your Ukrainian roots.

My great-grandparents came from Chernivtsi, and when I was a child, I heard my great-grandmother speaking only Ukrainian at home because she didn’t speak English. And I have been fascinated by my Ukrainian culture since I was very small when we celebrated Ukrainian Christmas and Easter with the pysanky, with the holubtsi, with the traditional breads. And I was particularly in love, of course, with Ukrainian music – which inspired me to take Ukrainian dancing when I was a girl.

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Which contemporary Ukrainian composers you have performed, conducted, or are particularly close to you?

I especially feel attached to the ones that have that folkloric Ukrainian dance element in it, which are the ones I’ve recently conducted. I’m impressed by Olexandr Kozarenko Concerto Rutheno for Piano and Orchestra; Volodymyr Zubytsky Violin Concerto. And now, Meitus, Yuliy Meitus. I absolutely adore his opera “Ukradene Shchastya” (Stolen Happiness), because of these components, these big scenes with chorus, dancing and singing. The most inspiring music for me is this music of Meitus. Also, Stankovych, yes, there are these elements as well. So, my favorite repertoire is quite romantic. Meitus is a perfect match.


On April 28, the world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York hosted a sold-out concert of Ukrainian academic music performed by you and the National Soloists Ensemble Kyiv Camerata. On May 30, you will perform an American program with Camerata at the National Philharmonic of Ukraine in Kyiv. What are your expectations for the concert in Kyiv?

Well, I know it was the dream of the Kyiv Camerata to come to Carnegie Hall and perform. I was so honored and proud to be part of this very meaningful event for them. And now we have the reverse situation. It is my absolute desire to go back, to return to Kyiv. After so many years, especially, it’s a very vital and important time for Ukrainians to show my support, to show that the world is with them.


Through culture, we can make so much difference. This opportunity for me to come and perform with the amazing Kyiv Camerata, it’s beyond my expectations already. And I’m just so very excited. It was very emotional for me at Carnegie Hall. And this is going to be even more emotional for me in Kyiv, because I have been living this war with you. And it will feel very powerful in the Kyiv Philharmonic Hall, to be filled with the brave, brave people of Ukraine. It’s very exciting.

War is an existential crisis, but it is also a window of opportunity through painful transformations. The world will never confuse Ukraine with Russia again. Ukrainians have a rich and unique culture, including music, which Russia has always tried to appropriate in various ways. You are mentally a person of Western culture; how do you advise us on how we can more actively promote Ukrainian academic music in the world? Where can we take decisive and influential steps?

Well, I think a perfect way is to have international artists collaborate with you. And I am a perfect example of this. I am, of course, very passionate about Ukrainian music, because it is in my blood as a proud Ukrainian myself. So, I think that this ideal combination is that you have artists who are outside of Ukraine collaborate with artists who are in Ukraine, and, of course, perform in Ukrainian music or dance companies or theater companies. Most fortunately, with social media today, there is already that possibility of exposure. Without having physically to go to Ukraine, which, of course, now is not for everybody. Some people are afraid to go to Ukraine. Myself, no, because this is vital to the future of Ukraine and the future of a democratic society that we are joined and united. And it is important that I am physically here to show that support.


Ukrainians, I think, just can be very much involved in their social media in trying to expose the outside world the great music of all the modern Ukrainian composers and especially living composers. There are so many festivals of contemporary music that want to reach out to Ukraine and have their composers express themselves at their festivals. It’s all about exposure. It’s all about sharing. It’s all about getting it outside of Ukraine on social media, on television, in concert halls.

So that is the challenge, but also not so difficult of a challenge.

Your couple consists of two accomplished, powerful, active individuals. You are a well-known conductor worldwide and your husband is the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, Peter Gelb. How do you maintain work-life balance? How do you and your husband support each other?


My husband and I have, I would say, a perfect relationship, because we love each other so much. And because we also understand each other’s work is very important and vital to our lives. I am constantly on the road performing, and Peter fortunately understands this. He, at the Metropolitan Opera, unfortunately has to be there most of the time, and he’s not so flexible to come and see my performances, although it was wonderful he could come to the Carnegie Hall performance, because that was in New York.

We maintain this balance because, yes, work, our artistic lives are vital. It’s an important aspect of our relationship. And usually we have always kept our work separate until recently with this horrible situation that developed with war in Ukraine. We took action together, and this was the first time we actually collaborated on a project. We have done little things in the past, but usually kept our work separate. So this was started off with the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, because the Metropolitan Opera was one of the first big cultural institutions to come to Ukraine’s defense. It was a natural step for them to sort out the situation. I support my idea of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, so my husband and I put our heads together and made this dream of mine come true, which was to reach out to the musicians of Ukraine and form an orchestra which would be symbolic as the voice and soul of Ukraine, that would help not only these musicians, some of whom were refugees, but also the Ukrainian people. But also, to give hope to the people of Ukraine so that they knew that the outside world was supporting them on the cultural front. The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra is our project together. And also, Peter was extremely helpful, because Peter has all of the contacts. He has colleagues. Not only in New York, but of course, all over the world. Peter was passionate about it, of course, because he wants to help just as much as I wanted to help.


Kerry Lynn Wilson.The National Ensemble of Soloists “Kyiv Camerata”

We are breathing and feeling this war together. So I love my husband and we love Ukraine.

And we are here until you win. We always say that one day we will win and rebuild Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine!

How do you see the world in 5 and 10 years? We are considering only positive scenarios.

I see a victorious Ukraine that will be constantly rebuilding with the support of all of its democratic brothers and sisters, including the European Union, of which it will be a part, and America, Canada, all of the beautiful nations have tried to be a great partners throughout this horrible war.

I see the culture of Ukraine striving all over the world. The composers who are writing today will be much more well-known. We must be positive and think big.

I also see myself even more involved in the Ukrainian cultural music scene, because it will be much easier to come to Ukraine and perform, and my arms are open to many possibilities of being at the head of orchestras, opera companies, whatever I can do. I would like to have much more engagement with Ukrainian culture. And I think that the entire world will also be much more familiar with Ukrainian arts, theater, dance, poetry, literature. You will have many heroes who are coming out of this war. And I can say now that Bohdana Pivnenko and the Kyiv Camerata are my heroes. They have inspired me to come to Kyiv for the first time during the war. They inspire me because they are the ones who have stayed in Ukraine and are living through this horror.

Thank you. Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes.

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