Twelve months ago Khrystyna Makar was taking the world by storm as she performed on some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls and opera platforms.
She was being hailed as one of Ukraine’s leading sopranos who was earning a reputation with her performances alongside some of Europe’s finest opera companies.
But on February 24, 2022, Khrystyna’s life and career were thrown into turmoil when Russian troops invaded her home country of Ukraine. Together with her two young sons, Khrystyna was forced to flee her homeland, leaving behind her husband, Vlodomyr, and her parents in their home in Lviv.
Four months later she arrived at the Urdd Camp in Llangrannog, near Cardigan, where she remained for several months until a flat was found for her and her sons in Aberystywth.
But throughout her short time in Wales, she has been wowing audiences with her incredible vocal performances. Today, to mark St David’s Day, she will be performing at the Welsh Senedd in Cardiff.
“Yes, it’s been an extremely difficult year, but throughout the whole of the last twelve months my aim has been to show the world what the people of Ukraine are truly like,” she said.
“The people of Ukraine will persevere, succeed and come back victorious in the end.”
Khrystyna remains in contact with her husband on a daily basis as he continues to work in western Ukraine which is one of the areas recently targeted by the Russian military.
Khrystyna discovered her passion for music, particularly singing, as a very young child.
“The way in which music i taught in Eastern Europe is very full-on, but I loved it,” she continued.
After being awarded a Master’s degree in voice at the Lviv National Music Academy, Khrystyna embarked on a career which took her to some of the world’s greatest concert halls such as Vienna, Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Oslo, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Munich and Geneva and performed under the baton of some of the world’s most prominent conductors.
“I hope very much that one day we’ll be able to return to Ukraine but the way we’ve been accepted here in Wales and the way we’ve been supported by the Welsh government has been wonderful. My boys, who are 13 and 17, really enjoy it here and we’re meeting some very positive and good people.”
Despite the hardships, Khrystyna knows that the conflict is having a strong and positive effect on her voice.
“There’s no doubt that the war is having an effect on the way I’m delivering my music. I feel that it’s helping people to understand the strength and determination of the people of Ukraine.
“And just as it’s always been since I was a child, music continues to be so, so important in my life. This is what’s keeping me going at the moment.”
Local audiences will have an opportunity to hear Khrystyna later this week when she performs at Narberth’s A Cappella Voice Festival which runs from March 3 to 5.
“The people of Ukraine truly believe that they will rise victorious after this conflict because the truth is on our side,” she continued.
“God is on our side and the whole world is on our side. There’s no other way.
“We’re merely defending a democratic European country and we shall continue to fight until we win.
“Obviously I’ve got to stay strong for my children and I desperately hope that one day I’ll be able to meet up with the rest of my family again, and that peace will come to Ukraine soon.
“But when that time comes, I know I shall look back on this time in Wales as a very important, life-changing time in my life.”