Osokins’ Freedom Festvial for Ukraine took place in Riga from May 25 until June 8. As a reaction to Russia’s military aggression, this year’s festival was dedicated to Ukraine. Almost 80 musicians and actors well-known both in Latvia and globally came together to perform nine concerts at five different venues: the Black Heads House (Melngalvju nams), Hanzas perons, Piano salon @152, “Ola Foundation” and the Anglican Church. During the festival over 20 000 EUR were collected from ticket revenues and donations for Ukraine’s support.
During the festival many Ukrainian musicians and actors – war refugees, who were forced to leave their country because of Russian military aggression, had the opportunity to perform on stage in collaboration with a multitude of leading Latvian artists and get involved in the cultural life of Latvia. One of the goals of the festival was to enable Ukrainian artists to continue pursuing their profession, so that cooperations born during this time may develop and enrich Latvian and European culture.
It was symbolical that the opening act of the festival on May 25 was performed by Anna Nimayer an actress from Mariupol’s Drama Theatre – a place known all over the world because of cynical shelling by Russian military, despite knowing that hundreds of people from Mariupol including many children had sought asylum there. After the performance Anna Nimayer revealed that now she has no theatre, no home, which was also destroyed by military, and no city and that she is grateful to have the opportunity to express her feelings on stage which was immensely important for her and the audience in the hall.
The program of each concert included music by Ukrainian composers as well as Ukrainian folk music and poetry to popularize Ukrainian culture in Latvia and to invite audience to explore deep roots and colorful culture of Ukraine. More than 100 free invitations to the concerts were given to refugees from Ukraine currently living in Latvia. In cooperation with Viche, the confederation of associations of Ukrainians living in Latvia, special minivans were placed at the venues of the biggest festival concerts providing the opportunity to donate the necessary things and items to Ukrainians. All donated goods will be delivered to Ukraine.
The highlight of the festival was the closing Gala concert that took place on June 8 at Hanzas perons, where 50 Latvian and Ukrainian musicians and actors performed together on one stage in front of 600 spectators including the president of Latvia Egils Levits, Minister for Culture Nauris Puntulis, Deputy Chairman at Riga City Council and Ambassadors of Ukraine, Poland, United Kingdom, Estonia and Lithuania, as well as Deputy Chief of Mission of United States Embassy in Latvia. The final performance was the song “Resistance” by the united artists of “Latvia for Ukraine”. The concert ended with standing ovations.
Until Wednesday, June 15, it is possible to contribute to the donations on the Ziedot.lv website https://www.ziedot.lv/osokina-brivibas-festivals-ukrainai-4251.
On June 26, a special night concert by musicians Igo and Katrina Gupalo will take place at the St. Savior’s Anglican Church in the Old Town of Riga which will also be dedicated to Ukraine’s support. Tickets can be purchased here https://www.bilesuparadize.lv/lv/event/118141.