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The Krzyżowa Foundation: Orchestral workshops for young Ukrainian musicians Back

The Krzyżowa Foundation: Orchestral workshops for young Ukrainian musicians

10 May 2022

So far, Poland has welcomed 3.5 million people from Ukraine and remains the preeminent country of arrival for refugees from its neighbour. To learn to live together, it is essential to prepare opportunities for people to integrate and overcome boundaries.

Being a teenager is already challenging, and being a teenager during a war is especially harrowing. Yet sharing a passion with other people can bring the focus back to one’s strengths and values outside the sphere and concerns of war.

To this end, the Krzyzowa Foundation for Mutual Understanding in Europe is organising week-long orchestral workshops that allow young musicians (16-23 years) to integrate and connect through music. The project culminates with two concerts, open to the local community. The project also provides musicians with instruments.

The Krzyzowa Foundation

With its International Youth Meeting Centre, Memorial Site and European Academy, the Krzyzowa Foundation is a politically independent, non-profit organisation based in Poland, with experience in non-formal education for more than 25 years.

Because of the history of the Krzyzowa estate that the foundation calls home (the Kreisau Circle, a German resistance group against Hitler, met there three times in 1942/43), it has high expertise, especially in political and historical projects of non-formal education.

‘Krzyzowa is a place that is alive with the diversity of people meeting here and their readiness for dialogue,’ Educational Project Specialist and Volunteering Coordinator Martyna Sidorowicz tells European Cultural Foundation in an interview.

‘Drawing on the spiritual legacy of the Krzyzowa Circle, the democratic opposition in Central Europe and the tradition of Polish-German reconciliation, the Krzyzowa Foundation works for the peaceful coexistence of nations, social groups and individuals. We consider work with young people to be particularly important. This activity is aimed at fostering a spirit of responsibility and openness to others. In this way, the Foundation supports understanding between people and the development of European civil society.’

Young musicians from Poland and Ukraine

When asked about the participants, Martyna outlines the process as such: ‘We created an open call and contacted all music schools from different regions in Poland. It was not an easy task, we were short on dates, and there were final exams in many schools, but in the end, we got fantastic results.’

‘With participants from Ukraine, we had some other problems – we wanted to invite young musicians that had already come to Poland, but we found few, but not enough. Fortunately, we had amazing contact with a teacher from Ukraine. She organised a big group of musicians and they came directly from Ukraine.’

‘We saw that this intense week of rehearsals was for them also a great escape from the painful reality of war. The overall situation of the project was very specific because of the War in Ukraine. The children were shy and a little scared at first, but radiant, open and chatty at the end. I think this is the most incredible shift and the reason to continue this project.’

Healing wounds

The foundation has long-term, high expectations for the project. ‘We already have sponsors interested in supporting the idea,’ Martyna announces. ‘Most of our participants want to come back. Nothing makes me happier than young people seeing their potential and becoming stronger. I hope that we will contribute to a generation of self-confident young people who believe in art as a way to connect people and cure wounds and music as a guideline for happiness.’

As those displaced learn to adapt their lives and dreams to rapidly changing circumstances, creativity can be a driving force of resilience and a channel to establish networks of solidarity.

Creativity, connection and solidarity

Martyna is inspired by ‘the vision of a self-aware society full of people who have the courage to take responsibility for their own happiness and lives. I take my strengths and inspiration from passionate people full of light and energy. I think there is no sadder look than to meet a young person that thinks life is only about avoiding suffering and defeat.’

The interview ended on a hopeful note, with free associations on the concept of solidarity: ’When I hear the word, I see a connection, being together, taking care of each other. My colleague said “family”, and I find it very accurate. We can create a family by believing in the same values and doing everything we can to reach our goals.’

Granted: €11,000

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