Henali performing live in 2021. Photo: Alina Garmash, Vitaliy Mariash

Launched on February 24, 2022, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has left hundreds of thousands of casualties in its wake, and has displaced nearly a third of Ukrainians. Tragically, it shows few signs of winding down. To reflect on the one-year anniversary of the invasion, we commissioned a new composition from Oleh Shpudeiko, better known as Heinali, a Kyiv-based electronic musician and composer currently living in Germany.

Shpudeiko describes his work, which combines software-generated melodies and improvisation, as “reimagining early music on modular synthesizers.” The Guardian called his 2020 album Madrigals a “a beautifully plotted suite that mixes free improvisation with mathematically generated precision.” In April, he streamed a live performance from a bomb shelter in Lviv to raise money for Ukraine, an event that New York Times critic Jason Farago chose as one of the key cultural moments of 2022.

Shpudeiko’s new composition, titled Aves rubrae (“red birds” in Latin), draws on medieval polyphony as well as the music of the band Coil, which influenced him as a young composer. “Explosions in Kyiv on February 24, 2022, halted my work on an album called Organa,” he says. “But it lived on as a backbone of my live concerts, and Aves rubrae continues this work.”

Today also marks the release of Heinali’s new album, Kyiv Eternal, which uses field recordings made in his home city. “These are recordings of a world that has disappeared,” Shpudeiko explains. “The album documents a city that has changed forever.”

This commission follows on a year of features about the impact of the war on artists, writers, and cultural groups in Ukraine, including Anna Sarvira’s illustrated story about daily life on the brink of the invasion, an interview with activists navigating the challenges facing LGBTQ+ refugees, a poem by Serhiy Zhadan that occupied a wall in a MoMA gallery titled In Solidarity, and a short film about a pivotal painting by Ukrainian-born artist Janet Sobel.

We invite you to listen to Aves rubrae below.