A Ukrainian opera singer who found refuge from the war in Cornwall has opened up for the first time since leaving her home as Russian missiles fell on her town. Anna Zoshchuk escaped from Odessa on the Black Sea a month ago and, thanks to the Homes for Ukraine programme, ended up in Cornwall where she has already delighted crowds with her beautiful singing.
Today, after spending the past few weeks in the UK and the Duchy in particular trying to rebuild her life, Anna opened up for the first time about the horrors she has witnessed, the fear that grips her while his family was left behind and so were his hopes for the future. More than 16 million Ukrainians have fled the country to take refuge across Europe since the Russian invasion.
The 34-year-old said she fled her town, outside of which her parents were, as Russian forces shelled Odessa. “The first month here was very difficult,” Anna said. “Now I feel much better. I felt broken and tired, but art and English nature always help me find power.
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Anna, who is staying in Truro, didn’t spend long in Cornwall before joining the Mousehole Male Voice Choir for a special concert at Penzance Catholic Church to benefit other Ukrainian refugees. She said the people she has met so far have been wonderful and very encouraging as she feels so sad about what is happening in her home country.
“I left through Moldova and then through Romania,” Anna revealed. “I took several buses, then I flew from Moldova to Bucharest. I took only one bag and the journey was difficult and not everyone was nice – some people helped for free and in some places people charged higher prices – for taxis for example – because that they knew the Ukrainians had no choice. People were stressed. Not everyone helped because everyone has their own interests. But most of them showed great nobility towards Ukraine. I was very touched that they helped Ukrainian musicians.
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“When I arrived in Truro I felt nervous because my future was so uncertain. In my new accommodation, the view of the cathedral is magical and I felt like it was like a fairy tale, like Harry Potter. For about a month, I felt exhausted all the time. Now I feel more inspired.
“I got to know my host friends who I live with and who help me and I found a nice green place in Truro by the river where I can go every day. inspire. There are a lot of interesting things in Cornwall. I love your culture. I’m very touched that people are helping Ukrainian musicians. I’ve wanted to work in the UK before and was invited to audition before the war, so when the war broke out, England was the obvious choice to find safety.”
Anna also revealed how Truro and the churches of Cornwall inspired her and gave her the comfort she needed at this difficult time. “Cornwall is a fantastic region,” added Anna. “I like the fresh air. I love churches that tell your story and I love your little streets. I love your musicians and their way of playing. I’m not sure about the weather though.
Anna, who stays in daily contact with her parents in Ukraine, said she now plans to improve her English and learn Italian, which will help her pursue her career as an opera singer.
She added, “I plan to translate my singing theory class, find some students to teach singing to, and maybe start teaching a group of singers. I am open to any job related to singing, children or adults and I hope invitations will come. I would do more concerts and I’m very happy to sing with the Mousehole men. I hope invitations will come from other places in Cornwall and also across the UK – maybe at festivals, for example.