Eastman School of Music student preparing to go back home to Ukraine amid turbulence | WHEC.com

Eastman School of Music student preparing to go back home to Ukraine amid turbulence

Brett Davidsen
Created: January 19, 2022 11:00 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Since he was five years old, Kostia Lukyniuk has had a violin in his hand. His music is his passion. Watch him and you see he plays with energy and pure joy.

"I can put so many emotions through this instrument," Kostia said. "And obviously, I love music and love expressing myself through music."

Kostia came to Rochester from his native Ukraine and enrolled at the Eastman School of Music.

"I got very heavy into improvisation and different styles of music. So I definitely lose myself in there because I pretty much create that music on the fly and it's never the same," he said.

But having just graduated, his visa is about to run out, and Kostia, who is now 22, is preparing to return to Ukraine. It comes at a time when Russian troops have amassed more than 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border—and the White House warns that Russia could attack its neighbor at any point.

President Biden addressed the issue Wednesday at his news conference.

"Russia will be held accountable if it invades," Biden said.

Still, Kostia said he is excited to return home—to see his family and his friends and to share his music. He said Russian aggression toward his homeland is nothing new, pointing to Russia's taking of Crimea in 2014.

"When I hear that, I think, that's not news at all and it's been going on since I was a teenager—happened in 2014 and there's been active war going on since then every day," Kostia said.

As Russia moved to annex Crimea, Kostia's father, a priest, was called to the war zone as a military chaplain. But there's no denying the heightened tension today as U.S. diplomats try to head off a full-blown invasion. Kostia though believes if Russia wanted to invade, it would have done so by now. But he also questioned the U.S.commitment if it were to happen.

"I'm not sure they're gonna do anything about it, I'm not sure they can do anything about it, cause if they wanted to, they would have done something," he added.

Instead, he chooses to focus on his music and his future—in Ukraine.

"I'm definitely banking on touring all over the Ukraine and just sharing my experience and my knowledge that I've acquired here," Kostia said.

Kostia and his band Positive Vibez have an album being released on Thursday, Jan. 20. You can download it here.


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