4 Musicians on the Role of Music in Times of Crisis

Ukraine violin music

When words fail to convey the magnitude of a situation, music can offer a moment of relief, a place of social cohesion, or become an act of protest. The past two years, in particular, have had several viral music videos hit global headlines for just this reason. From the Syrian band Safar’s power cut video ‘Ya-Weel-Weely’, to the quarantine balcony concerts in Italy, to the most recent video of the violin player in a bomb shelter in Kharkiv. Human connection and healing across borders and languages can often be found in music.

This Friday, musicians from around the world will come to SOAS to play a Concert for Ukraine. All proceeds of the concert will help the humanitarian aid effort in Ukraine. Ahead of the show, we asked a few of the musicians playing to tell us what they see as the role of music during times of crisis. Here’s what they said:

“I can only quote my role model Nina Simone:

“You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”

I always felt strongly about being involved in what is happening in the world but could never imagine that the brutality of war could be so close to me, my family and my country.”

Alina Bzhezhinska

“For me, the role of music in times of crisis is to bring a space of understanding despite the differences. We all can have even antagonistic points of view in any subject, like religion and politics, but music gives us the opportunity to find common ground to express ourselves and share universal emotions of solidarity and compassion. I consider that music gives us that unique chance, and this concert is a great example of that, gathering people from all over the world to give a message of peace.”

Jorge Olazo

“When something as horrifying as Putin’s war is unleashed, it can make you feel very helpless. When there are no words left, music is a way to bring people together to reflect, to mourn and to express solidarity with the victims of this useless conflict. It’s not much, but it’s our small gesture of peace.”

Georgie Pope

“I consider that the role of music in times of crisis must be located as a healer because with melodies or rhythms you can express your anger as well your hope to resolve a conflict.”

Diego Laverde Rojas


Don’t miss the Concert for Ukraine

The phenomenal Ukrainian-Polish jazz harpist Alina Bzhezhinska will be performing, supported by the talented Slovakian singer Julia Kozakova, Colombian harpist Diego Laverde, Georgie Pope on harp, Jorge Olazo playing the percussion and other special guests. All proceeds of the concert will go to help the humanitarian aid effort in Ukraine.

When: Friday 25 March 2022, Doors open at 6 pm for a 6.30 pm start.
Where: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS University of London
Donate to attend the concert.

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