As the global community continues to face the challenges of COVID-19, musicians continue to find ways to share messages of hope, support and friendship in virtual musical performances. The Roads of Friendship, a project of the Ravenna Festival created in 1997 by Riccardo Muti and his wife and Ravenna Festival founder Cristina Mazzavillani Muti, promotes the power of music to lift the human spirit.

    The Roads of Friendship has created connections through music in places afflicted by war, natural disasters or political conflict, such as Bosnia, Lebanon, Syria, Armenia, Iran and many others, including Ukraine, where Italian and Ukrainian musicians came together to perform music of Verdi in a performance led by Riccardo Muti in 2018.

    Choristers and musicians from the original 2018 Kiev concert participated in this video performance. | Photo: Courtesy of the Roads of Friendship

    In response to worldwide pandemic, organizers of the 2018 performance in Kiev  — including the Roads of Friendship, as well as the Ministry of Culture, Italian Embassy and the Italian Cultural Institute in Kiev — recently released a musical video message featuring “Va, pensiero” the chorus from Verdi’s opera Nabucco, one of several works by Verdi featured on the 2018 program presented in historic St. Sophia’s Square.

    “Without a doubt, the chorus ‘Va, pensiero’ acquires an even greater meaning today, because it demands love, peace and brotherhood,” said Riccardo Muti, music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. “We are living through a time without the spiritual food of Culture in general and of Music in particular. I am certain that we will get through this difficult time as we remember that we are all brothers and sisters.”

    The newly created video message features concert footage from the 2018 Roads of Friendship concert in Kiev featuring the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra, performance footage from a National Opera of Ukraine production of Verdi’s Nabucco, and compiled videos from Italian singers and chorus members of the National Opera Theater of Ukraine and Kiev’s Credo Chamber Choir, participants in the 2018 performance in Kiev.

    TOP: A special video message features footage from the 2018 Roads of Friendship concert in Kiev, Ukraine, with Riccardo Muti. | Photo: Courtesy of the Roads of Friendship