Principal viola: I fled at four in the morning

Principal viola: I fled at four in the morning


norman lebrecht

July 29, 2022

Having second thoughts about the continued boycott of Putin-supporting musicians? Read this.

Kateryna Suprun, violist in the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, writes about her flight from the Russian invasion:

I left my home in Ukraine on the day that war broke out, fleeing my home with my two-year-old daughter, Mia.

We had woken that morning at 4am to the sound of sirens. I was so scared, and Mia was crying. The whole country went into shock …

I packed a few clothes, documents, and my viola, and we shared a car with a friend and her two cats. For two days we drove towards the border with Poland, one phone open on google maps, one on the news, so we could adjust our route to avoid the trouble, and we watched with horror at what was happening to our beautiful country.

It took us another two days to do the last 3km, as there were so many people also trying to leave, both in cars and on foot. But there was a strong sense of community within the terrible situation, with people sharing food, and local villagers bringing water. My daughter didn’t cry once – thank you Peppa Pig!

Once across the border we went to Berlin, to stay with a kind friend, but the early days were difficult. In the beginning I couldn’t play. I would wake up every day at 4am, remembering what had happened, get my phone out and read the news. Every night before I went to sleep I would pray for a Ukraine without sirens or bombs, without killings.

My mum and other family who could, joined us, but the men had to stay. With childcare help, I started to play my viola again and wanted to work. I began playing with other women whose husbands had stayed behind, and slowly but surely we begun to put on concerts…

More here.


  • a world of fools says:

    Take thirty years of ignorant, short-sighted, hateful leadership and you get war. Then we fall victim to the tubular vision war creates and howl for more and more hatred. It finally ends when little is left but ruins and sadness, then everyone hunkers down in fear and hatred until the next war begins. For the most part, this defines the basic character of humans and their history.

  • Genius Repairman says:

    I know a Ukranian family in a similar situation. The women and children now live in Belgium and the men are defending Ukraine. So much senseless displacement, destruction and death. Any musician who supports this ridiculous war (as opposed to dealing with issues in a mature, respectful manner), should feel the ghosts of Shostakovitch, Rostrapovitch and Weinberg ravage their soul and make all their notes flat and their instruments crack. If I was Russian I can promise I would be dead against this war and there are Russians and Russian musicians and composers who are standing up to putin and they should be welcomed by the World.