‘My trio SonCe’s album was released months ago and was barely noticed at the time. Since the war, I have performed a lot at many benefit events. I’m not trying to feel bad about it, I did not want it to sound like I’m trying to make a name for myself about the war, you know, “said Ukrainian singer Maryana Golovchenko.” My parents call mine achievements for cultural diplomacy.You do this for your country.The basis of this war is that the Russians portray us as inferior.Our culture, which is not very well known, must therefore be heard.With my band, I reinterpret traditional folk songs, with electronics and improvisation “The lyrics are universal and powerful. Everything in it has taken on a completely different meaning.”
Golovchenko (33) recorded a song with the singer Spinvis to raise money for Ukraine, with her trio she performs at many benefited concerts and she made the compilation album with producer Michel Banabila Stand with Ukraine, with Ukrainian artists. Accompanied by the city’s carillon Richard de Waardt on the historic carillon, she sang a Ukrainian song in Laurenskerk in Rotterdam, the city she exchanged for Kiev ten years ago.
Golovchenko sang with the famous Shchedryk children’s choir from the age of three. Later she studied music in Kiev, in addition to singing she also plays saxophone. In Rotterdam, she took a master’s degree in cultural entrepreneurship and worked at a jazz festival. Now she is doing the marketing for the Gaudeamus Foundation.
“My life has been turned upside down since February 24, the start of the war. My parents and brother live in Kiev, we are in constant contact. My sister-in-law and my little niece were able to catch a train to Vienna. My brother, he is an aviation expert, stayed behind and, like many other men, waited for him to be called up to defend the country.
“My mother lives with my 94-year-old grandmother on the seventh floor of an apartment. When the sirens go off, seek shelter in the basement. But they howl all the time and it’s not easy going downstairs with my old grandmother. Now they take shelter in the hallway, near a large strong wall that will hopefully remain intact should the place collapse. At first I thought I would pick them up. But my mother will not leave my grandmother, who has difficulty walking. And my father will not leave my mother even if they live separately. When I video call them, I see my mother sitting on a bench in the hallway with a cigarette. I think that is very sad.
“I follow the news obsessively. I have friends all over Ukraine, also in Butja, of whom there are bad pictures, and Mariupol, who is still under attack. It is coming, you see. I do not sleep much, after the first week I could do not stop crying.My friend said: you can not keep doing this.It’s a marathon you need to refuel.
I’m stopped counting the days of war
“On the first day of the war, I was able to appear in a television program Podium Witteman† A few days later, Michel Banabila suggested putting together an album with Ukrainian artists – previously he did something similar for Yemen. A good idea, I thought. It was nice to be able to get in touch with musicians, mostly old fellow students, who have flown all over the world.
“We bought medical supplies from the first revenue from the digital collection that was created in three days: from bandages to clothes. And I saw that we now have a few thousand euros to invest further. An organization like Giro 555 involves many overhead costs.I know many local foundations, small initiatives from people I trust.As a doctor who tells me what I need through my mother.I get pictures of what they do with the money.
night vision goggles
“I call town and country to fill vans full of specific medical items, but also things needed for civil protection: from boots, knee pads, gloves to night vision goggles. Suddenly I know all about it, a bizarre experience. The money that my song with Spinvis generates, also goes through the record company Excelsior for transports with emergency goods, this way they could get there with a van full of technical equipment for surveillance such as infrared cameras.
“Spinvis asked me for his performance in Paradiso, but I was already singing in the Concertgebouw that night, so we made a song. Recently, we performed together for the first time at an event in the Skatecafé in Amsterdam with bands from Excelsior’s stables. A first meeting, who immediately felt very familiar.
“‘Pid Yabloenkoju’ is an old Ukrainian folk song. The text is about pigeons, which symbolize loyalty, peace, love and home. The pigeons are separated from each other, the crow kills the male and establishes that the female belongs to him in the pigeon house from now on. She says: ‘There will be no one more that I will love so much, there will never be a dove like him again’. It has to do with the story that Russia told about how Ukraine was saved from the Nazi regime. What are they getting involved in? Bombing is never a rescue.
“I have already arranged many benefit concerts with a Syrian colleague: art is a strong medium. Now I am holding a concert in Dordrecht, in fact especially for the large group of Ukrainians who arrived there. Close friends set up a middle school for the teens with extra help for the severely traumatized among them.
“I have stopped counting the days of the war. A parallel world has arisen with the life that continues here. For example, yesterday I was at a concert that had nothing to do with Ukraine. Clean to take a break for an hour of meditative, classical music. For a moment, I could ignore the phone. Because that war is there all the time. ”
Benefit concerts: 23/4 Sing for Peace, Oosterkerk, Amsterdam;
23/4 Breath Support, Church of England, Amsterdam; 24/4 Trio SonCe, Studio 150 Bethlehemkerk, Amsterdam.
A version of this article was also published in NRC Handelsblad on 14 April 2022