Ukrainian-Estonian folk rock band Svjata Vatra recently teamed up with the Estonian Military Orchestra to release a music video in support of Ukraine for a new arrangement of the famous Ukrainian folk song "The Cossack Rode Beyond the Danube."
"The Cossack Rode Beyond the Danube" ("Jihav Kozak Za Dunaj" or "Їхав козак за Дунай" in Ukrainian) is an old Ukrainian folk song that Ukrainian-Estonian band Svjata Vatra first released as a single in 2018.
"The song is about an ancient story," Svjata Vatra describes below the music video on YouTube. "A Cossack is on his way to war. He leaves his long-loved wife at home in tears. The Cossack's mission in war is actually not about the battle itself; it's about making a better and brighter future for his family and the one he loves."
The band notes that it is this belief in love that brings the protagonist back home safely, adding that this same song has inspired several others, ranging from Beethoven's "Schöne Minka" to a song, "Kallimale," brought back by Estonians who lived in Siberia.
Chief of the Orchestra Simmu Vasar said that immediately after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the orchestra began seeking ways they could support Ukraine — and what better way for musicians to do so than via music?
Vasar contacted Ruslan Trochynskyi, a member of Estonia's Ukrainian community, and his band Svjata Vatra and offered a collaboration. As it turned out, the band already had the perfect song ready to go.
Once decided, everything else fell smoothly into place, as everyone wanted to contribute, Vasar recalled.
Tõnis Kõrvits provided the orchestral arrangement, and the music video was produced in cooperation with the Strategic Communications Center of the EDF and the Estonian War Museum and under the direction of Anna Shushpanova, a war refugee from Ukraine.
According to the orchestra director, the ongoing war in Ukraine is not a sprint, but a marathon, and people need to continue to keep Ukraine in the spotlight in the longer term as well.
"We cannot grow accustomed to the war and consider it part of the daily news that on most days doesn't so much as raise an eyebrow anymore," Vasar stressed. "Each of us must in our own way keep the topic alive and help the people of Ukraine to a victorious end by any means possible."
The Estonian Military Orchestra operates under the Estonian War Museum.
Video also a 'thank you' to people of Estonia
Trochynskyi, the lead singer of Svjata Vatra, said that when the war in Ukraine began in 2014, songs directly inspired by it — but always including messages of caring, sticking together and peace — began to appear in the band's repertoire.
"The Estonian Military Orchestra's proposal was a lovely and striking opportunity to demonstrate support to both the defenders of Ukraine and Ukrainians together," he said, adding that the two groups want to use the music video to thank all of the people of Estonia for the comprehensive aid they have provided Ukraine with.
"We've seen the warmth with which the people of Estonia have opened their homes and their hearts to the war refugees of Ukraine and how they have been engaged in coming up with ways everyone can contribute," Trochynskyi underscored. "Our deepest thanks to everyone!"
Watch the full music video, with English subtitles, below.
Editor: Aili Vahtla