Skip to main content

Dmytro Hovorov sings for Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, as member of Songs for Ukraine Chorus

Thu 28 March 2024

Musical Theatre student Dmytro Hovorov, member of the Royal Opera House Songs for Ukraine Chorus, met and sang for Olena Zelenska and Akshata Murty during a visit to 10 Downing Street.

During a special reception hosted by the wife of the British Prime Minister Akshata Murty and the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska, 30 representatives from the Royal Opera House’s Songs for Ukraine Chorus – including first-year Ukrainian Musical Theatre student Dmytro Hovorov – performed two of Ukraine’s most celebrated compositions.

The Songs for Ukraine Chorus was established in Spring 2023 in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ensemble is a creative exchange between the Royal Opera House and the London Ukrainian community, creating a safe space for 130 Ukrainians (most of whom have been displaced by the war) and demonstrating the power of music to inspire hope in the face of extreme adversity. Dmytro discusses his experience:

“When I joined the Songs for Ukraine Chorus in February last year, I wasn’t sure what scale the project would be, but there were between 100 and 150 Ukrainians present at the first rehearsal! We had our first concert in March, rehearsing and performing together at the Royal Opera House – it was an absolutely amazing experience. A year of the war had passed and I felt like I was truly reconnecting with the Ukrainian community again – it was wonderful to be amongst people who understood and experienced my culture.

We also participated in a wonderful concert in Bradford Cathedral. I’ve made lots of really close friends in the choir and the project continues to develop on an even greater level. I really like that we perform on big platforms in venues where we can tell people about ourselves, remind them about the war, and ask for their support. It’s been amazing to spread Ukrainian music, with its culture and folklore, across the UK.”

The choir’s repertoire mostly consists of Ukrainian songs. People have completely different musical experiences within the choir: some members are professionals and trained singers, while some are reading music for the first time. The Royal Opera House has recently divided this choir into two – one larger choir where everyone takes part, and a smaller, more experienced chamber choir that performed at Downing Street.

At the reception in 10 Downing Street, the Songs for Ukraine Chorus sang the Ukrainian National anthem and the hymn Prayer for Ukraine. The choir interacted and communicated with Olena Zelenska and Akshata Murty, emphasising that they wished to be ambassadors to raise money for Ukraine through charity concerts. “The meeting aimed to share our culture and show that London has a thriving Ukrainian community and an immense support for Ukraine”, says Dmytro.

Dmytro moved to the UK in 2019, after graduating from the R. Glier Kyiv Institute of Music as a Junior Specialist in Voice and Opera. He speaks about his musical journey and how it has continued to develop:

“I was very, very happy to be offered a place at Trinity Laban – I dreamt of doing Musical Theatre since my childhood. I applied to Trinity Laban last year and am currently in the first year of my undergraduate. The course is amazing, it’s intense but really fun. I love the people, the community, and the quality of all the teaching is excellent.

“On the Musical Theatre course, everyone starts with different levels of expertise. I came in with a high level of singing and had less experience in dance and acting, but everyone has been so inspiring and supportive. This course has been a wonderful opportunity for me, a huge personal success.”

While Dmytro continues his Musical Theatre studies at Trinity Laban, he aims to remain an active member of the Songs for Ukraine Chorus. The choir are growing from strength to strength and are currently working towards a major performance this summer, which will soon be announced by the Royal Opera House.

Image Credit: Royal Opera House. Dmytro is in the last row, third from the left.