Unterschleißheim – Musician from Kharkiv founds Ukrainian choir. – District of Munich

When Daria Khramtsova enters the stage with her choir at 3 p.m. on the first Sunday in Advent, the young woman from Kharkiv comes full circle. She fled from the bombs of the Russian army. She left a lot behind and arrived in Unterschleißheim on March 11, where she found a first home with many others in the Infinity Hotel. For two months, 200 refugees lived in the four-star-plus house, where the football stars of FC Bayern usually check in and where football icon Tom Brady has just stayed. The 27-year-old started singing songs from her homeland with fellow countrymen. The choir still exists today. And now the Ukrainian folklore choir is giving a small concert at the Christmas market – four songs from the old homeland in the new temporary homeland.

After a two-year break, Christmas markets can take place again without major restrictions on the market and village squares in the Munich district. The smell of mulled wine soon wafts through the stalls and music is played. In Unterschleißheim, for the first time, the music school is involved with several performances in the program that takes place on all Advent weekends. Several children’s choirs perform. The Ukrainians set the prelude to these special Advent weeks, at a time when bombs are falling and people are dying in Eastern Europe.

Among other things, Daria Khramtsova plays the lute. Soon after arriving in Unterschleißheim, the musician gave the desperate ones other ideas. “It helps to forget about the war for an hour or two,” she says. She gave a concert at the hotel, playing her own songs. It was also meant to be a thank you to the staff at the home that had so willingly welcomed them. She had borrowed the instrument for her performance. For a second concert, she wanted to involve more people, and that’s how the choir came about. Khramtsova rehearsed Ukrainian songs with the singers without sheet music.

The Infinity Hotel spontaneously opened its doors. Many refugees, especially women and children, found refuge. A meeting room became a playroom.

(Photo: Robert Haas)

The 27-year-old studied the lute in Alessandria, Italy. When she paid a visit to her parents at home, she contracted Corona and was unable to return to Italy. She then ran two small music schools called “Kolibri” in Kyiv and Kharkiv, until the war came and she and her family suddenly had to seek shelter in the basement of their apartment building in the center of the city, just 300 meters from the town hall. “We spent ten days in hiding in Kharkiv,” says Khramtsova. Bombs fell in the vicinity at short intervals. Eventually she fled with her mother and aunt. On March 11, they were stranded in Unterschleißheim. It was a big “take a deep breath,” finally peace, she says, “no bombs.” Her father followed later. She remembers the weeks in the hotel as “relaxed time”.

“The first contact was so impressive,” enthuses music school director Victoria Scherer

The community broke up in early May. The hotel operations, initially restricted by Corona, started again and the war refugees moved into other accommodations. Some went to other cities. But many stayed in Unterschleißheim. And the Ukrainian folklore choir remained, also because two women met in Infinity and got along well right away. Victoria Scherer has been running the Unterschleißheim music school for two years and brings momentum with many new ideas. She remembers, “the first contact was so impressive,” Scherer looks back. The choir is so “wonderful” and its director “full of positive energy”. The desire arose to bring the choir to the music school. This time Khramtsova was able to work with sheet music and also rehearse difficult songs.

Looking ahead: The Ukrainian Folklore Choir with Daria Khramtsova at a performance.

The Ukrainian folklore choir with Daria Khramtsova at a performance.

(Photo: private)

When asked what will be heard at the Christmas market, Khramtsova starts humming on the phone. It imitates the melody of the well-known song Shchedryk by the Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych (1877-1921), which was originally sung in Ukraine at the New Year celebrations in January to wish people happiness, prosperity and prosperity. There is also a Christmas version and worldwide the tune is known as the Christmas carol “Carol of Bells”. The English version of Shchedryk translates as “Listen to the bells ringing, sweet silver bells. Everyone seems to be saying. Throw away the sorrows. Christmas is here.” Of course, the folklore choir sings in Ukrainian.

The war in Ukraine dims the mood during Advent. The war is felt here mainly because of the scarce energy. Savings are made on shining stars and flashing chains of lights. Unterschleißheim largely limits the blaze of lights to the hustle and bustle on the town hall square, where people get in the mood for a Christmas celebration in which the Christian message of love, hope and peace takes on special significance. Daria Khramtsova has initially settled in Unterschleißheim. She directs the choir at the music school, teaches guitar and studies at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich. She hopes for a student apartment. “We don’t know,” she says, “how long we’re going to stay here.”

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