“This is a massacre:” Ukrainian pianist reacts to attack on his home country

PITTSBURGH — Dr. Taras Filenko, a Ukrainian pianist who made Pittsburgh his home, can only watch as his homeland is under siege.

As he watches the pounding attacks escalating on Ukraine, he fears that Putin is setting up a larger war with NATO.

“I went through all the stages, disbelief, anger, shock, resentment, and now I can see this is a massacre,” Filenko said. “We are going to fight for our land, for our freedom, and for our children.”

Filenko plays the song Elegy by Ukrainian composer Lysenko. He says this song is his prayer, the essence of who he is. Ukraine is his homeland.

“Sometimes I play this piece, it’s very peaceful, nostalgic,” he said. “Sometimes like now, it’s very different.”

A land that he watches from afar in the United States from here in Pittsburgh. A home, cut, seared and scarred by Russian troops.

“My nephew told me we are going to stay and we are going to fight,” Filenko said. “My cousin who is 67 said I’m going to take weapons, his wife working in the hospital said I will stay in the hospital until the very end.”

Not only is Filenko a world renowned pianist, he’s also written a book on the music history of Ukraine. He has traveled and performed all over the world, and in Ukraine.

Filenko tells Channel 11 that one of his friends escaped from Kharkiv, sleeping in the subway for six days.

“She said to me I have one bra, one pants, and my dog, and I have a long memory. I’m very glad my house was bombed because I don’t want Russians using my bathroom and looking at my paintings on the wall. Everything is gone,” he shared.

Filenko says this is just the beginning for Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that he will not stop with Ukraine. He says their only real hope is from the west, with some kind of protection. But still, there is defiance and resolve.

“They can conquer, they can kill, but they will never kill the spirit of Ukrainians, I doubt it. Never,” he said.

Channel 11 anchor Lisa Sylvester has known Filenko for years. He’s been her daughter’s piano teacher.

Filenko is concerned about the refugee crisis, and hopes that people in Pittsburgh will open their doors to the many Ukrainian refugees who have suddenly found themselves without a home.

Stay with 11 News for the latest on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its impact on our area.

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