Ukrainian sisters lodging in Northumberland turn out to be musical prodigies

When a Northumberland couple opened up their village house to a Ukrainian mom and her two daughters previous yr, they were being responding to the plight of refugees escaping the Russian invasion. Having been informed no a lot more than that this was a musical loved ones, Sheilagh Matheson and Chris Roberts supplied two bedrooms and a honky-tonk piano.

Quickly they uncovered on their own arranging the financial loan of a Steinway upright right after finding that these kids had an remarkable musical expertise – one that built passersby prevent to pay attention at an open up window.

Each women have now gained scholarships to two of the UK’s foremost songs colleges, less than a 12 months after fleeing their home in the vicinity of Kyiv to commence new lives in Corbridge, not considerably from Newcastle.

Khrystyna Mykhailichenko, 17, has been awarded a full bursary for 4 decades to examine piano at the Royal Academy of Audio in London. Her 12-calendar year-aged sister, Sasha, a violinist, has a scholarship to become a weekly boarder at the Yehudi Menuhin Faculty in the vicinity of Leatherhead in Surrey.

Each come to feel that classical tunes helped them to experience the trauma of abandoning their property with their mother, Nataliia. They lived in Poland for a few months in advance of arriving in Corbridge last June as part of the Homes for Ukraine plan.

Matheson, a semi-retired broadcast journalist, life with her husband, a national director of the Abilities Funding Agency, in an close-of-terrace 5-bedroomed home.

She explained to the Observer that they on their own are not musical, but that the Ukrainians’ tunes-creating in their property has been “absolutely unbelievable”: “You run out of superlatives. When the home windows are open up, you see persons walking by and they just stand there.”

Joking that their honky-tonk piano is worthy of “a smoke-stuffed space with adult men ingesting pints and singing Roll Out the Barrel”, Matheson claimed: “All we knew before they arrived was that they have been a musical family. A several times right before, I was despatched a movie of Khrystyna enjoying Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 [aged just 14]. I thought, ‘ah, appropriate, we’re in a distinctive league here’.

“So I scuttled all around trying to find obtain to a grand piano she could practise on. The musical fraternity in Northumberland, of which I am not part, had been incredibly practical. A few contacted us and stated, ‘we’ve got a Steinway upright that you can have’. That was duly delivered.”

The girls and their older brother, Danylo, 25, were being born in Simferopol in Crimea, from where by the relatives fled in 2014, when the Russians took manage. They moved to Irpin, around Kyiv, only to shed their father, Gennady, a professor of Ukrainian literature, in a fishing incident a 12 months later on.

Irpin was laid waste to by Russian forces. Danylo is nonetheless in the household home, without having operating drinking water and confined electric power, and his mom and sisters worry for him.

Sheilagh Matheson and Chris Roberts.
Sheilagh Matheson and Chris Roberts.

Matheson reported: “Nataliia has a pal who was shot and hurt hoping to escape, and an additional friend’s partner died in the war. Now there’s a chance of conscription. A single friend’s son hasn’t remaining the dwelling for 6 months since he’s terrified of getting swept up.”

Khrystyna began mastering the piano aged four, and her parents soon realised she experienced an incredible reward. Within a couple of yrs, she was winning international competitions and supplying concerts.

She explained: “When I was in Ukraine, I utilized to picture going to the Royal Academy, because of its around the world status, and we realized all about the Yehudi Menuhin Faculty. But we by no means, ever imagined our desires of studying in people spots would grow to be a reality.”

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, the Royal Academy’s principal, mentioned: “Khrystyna Mykhailichenko is an extraordinary expertise of unusual maturity for her age. She came and performed the Chopin Ballade No 1 to me lately and discovered what a serious artist she is, nearly as if the burdens of a challenging lifetime had been staying channelled by her playing. This was very well further than the carefree virtuosity 1 hears in this piece so often. It also had real grip and originality.”

Ashley Wass, the Menuhin School’s director of songs, mentioned: “Sasha is a wonderfully talented and significant-achieving musician, which is inspirational, specially specified the issues she has faced.”

The Mykhailichenko family members now hope that a person will open up up their household in the Leatherhead space,so that mother and daughters can be reunited on weekends and in vacations.

Nataliia has two college levels but she is prepared to choose any career. She at the moment volunteers at a foods lender and for a charity for older people with unique demands.

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