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Hiding from the bombs, the Ukrainian “cellar violinist” plays on | Lifestyle

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PAOLA SANTALUSIA – Associated Press

ROME, Italy (AP) – A gentle melody from a violin played by a musician nicknamed the Ukrainian “violinist in the basement” is a lullaby for a child in the dark basement of an apartment building in the besieged Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

Vera Litachenko has become an icon of sustainability on the Internet, as images of a concert violinist playing in a basement bomb shelter have inspired an international audience through social media.

When heavy Russian bombing of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine began two weeks ago, Litovchenko, her father, a professor, and neighbors sought safety in the basement of their building.

“Bombs can fall everywhere in our city, so we decided to go down to the basement,” the 39-year-old violinist said in an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday during a brief respite after the bombing during a temporary ceasefire. “There are about 12 of us now. We have little boys. We have teenagers. We have old women. “

A week later, their basement in the basement Litovchanka decided to try to cheer up his comrades in the basement, holding small concerts.

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“All these people are now my brothers and sisters,” she said. “I tried to make them think about something, not about the war for a few minutes while I play.”

Later, she decided to post her solo concerts on social networks, in which the soothing sounds of Vivaldi and even Lithuanians singing Russian folk songs are soothing. Her reaction surprised her: more than 40,000 views on Facebook and thousands more on YouTube.

“I did not expect it, because I wrote only to reach friends and relatives. My aunt is near Kyiv, and I am afraid for her, ”she said.

“My friends are in different cities of Ukraine, and I try to keep in touch with them, I write to them several times a day to find out if they are alive,” – said Lytochenko. “Many people are now writing to me that my videos give them such support and hope. They see that someone is staying here ”in Kharkiv.

“Some are alive and some are hopeful and optimistic,” she said.

On Wednesday, during a temporary ceasefire in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, Litachenko was able to return to her apartment for several hours. She told the AP she was glad to see the sunlight after spending two weeks in a dark basement, adding that she and her neighbors were lucky because they have heating in the basement and food.

Before the war, Litovchenko played in the orchestra of the Kharkiv City Opera, taught music lessons.

“It was a different life … a normal life,” she said of the pre-war period. “I am an orchestrator. I am a teacher in college. I have students, I have friends, I play concerts, play operas and ballets. I play Italian operas in the theater. “

Describing Ukraine before the war, Lytachenko said: “We had a cultural life in the country, in our cities, despite the coronavirus. We were vaccinated. It was a normal life … But now we can’t understand what is happening. “

Litovchanka says she hopes her posts will help raise funds for the Kharkiv music community.

“I dream of my small financial fund, because I received messages from all over the world, from all countries. They wrote to me, they want to help, ”she said.

She wants to “help the musicians … and rebuild our city, our conservatory, our music college, our music school,” she said. “To help our musicians who have lost their homes, and to help musicians return to their cities and not be refugees.”

Litachenko said that, no matter how scary, playing in the basement to cheer others up gave her new encouragement.

“That’s why I make these videos, I try to help, I try to do everything I can,” she said.

Follow the coverage of the crisis in Ukraine in the AP https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.

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