A poignant display of music-making in the face of adversity, held underground in one of Ukraine’s hardest-hit cities

Despite the bombing and destruction of their homes overhead, Ukrainian musicians made time to perform a concert for fellow displaced civilians in a Kharkiv subway station. The 30-minute concert, which consisted of the Ukrainian National Anthem, folk songs and popular classical pieces, was organised by Sergiy Politutchy, director of Kharkiv Music Festival.

Regarded as one of the most prestigious music festivals in Ukraine, the Kharkiv Music Festival was unable to take place this year due to the Russian invasion. As a result, the concert was held on the date the annual festival was due to begin.

The musicians played for fellow residents, who had been living in the subway station since the beginning of the invasion over one month ago on 24 February. One resident of Kharkiv Iryna Shkapo said, ’It’s good that life continues because music and art are life. These are the rays that help the soul survive.’

The eastern city of Kharkiv has suffered immensely during the war, with over 500 civilians killed since the beginning of the invasion. Displaced residents have been taking shelter underground in local subway stations, as numerous homes, public buildings and vital infrastructure have been destroyed by Russian airstrikes and artillery shelling.