In its 13th US tour, the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (KSOC) has embarked on a unique journey, featuring exclusively female members due to restrictions preventing male performers from leaving Ukraine. The KSOC was established in 1993 by conductor Roger McMurrin and his wife, Diane, under the Christian NGO "Music Mission Kyiv (MMK)" with the goal of introducing religious classical music, like Handel's Messiah and Brahms' Requiem, to a Ukrainian audience that had been deprived of such music during the 70 years of Soviet rule.
Over the years, the KSOC gained international acclaim and produced numerous recordings. Supported by MMK, the orchestra's first US tour took place in 1996, encompassing 27 concerts in churches and other religious venues. This tour expanded to 41 concerts in 1998 and over 90 performances in churches, schools, and major theaters in 2000.
The 13th KSOC tour, titled "Hope for Ukraine," began on September 14 at Northland Church in Longwood, Florida, and is exclusively focused on the southeastern United States. The tour includes 13 concerts across various states, including Kentucky, North Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, and Ohio, concluding on October 15 at Moorings Presbyterian Church in Naples, Florida.
A distinctive feature of this concert series is the participation of only female members, as male performers are unable to travel outside Ukraine due to wartime restrictions. Led by Conductor Vika Konchakovskaya, the 30 women comprising the ensemble will perform a diverse repertoire, including sacred classical pieces, Ukrainian folk songs, and contemporary jazz works, all while adorned in traditional costumes.
The KSOC is generously sponsored by corporate and individual donors, and while admission to all concerts is free, collections will be taken, with the proceeds from each performance dedicated to supporting humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
Greg Kannon, the current CEO of MMK, expressed on the University of South Florida (WUSF) website that this tour offers an opportunity for the women of KSOC to contribute to the well-being of soldiers on the front lines and those in recovery. Through their musical talents, they aim to draw attention to Ukraine's situation and raise support for the country.