Interview with the conductor of the Queens Orchestra

Alexander Korobek of the Queens Orchestra: I can rehearse with the orchestra without make-up. At Metronome we will express our gratitude for the support!

The unique, all-female Ukrainian orchestra Queens Orchestra will come to the Metronome Prague festival. They will perform at the Prague Exhibition Grounds alongside leading Czech rocker David Koller on Wednesday 21 June, kicking off the subsequent three-day art event featuring names such as Jamiroquai, Moderat, M83, ZAZ, Tove Lo, J.I.D, Aurora, Editors, White Lies, Sir Chloe, Holly Humberstone, David Penn and Jana Kirschner, PSH, Zrní, Supercrooo, Lazer Viking, MYDY and many more. A detailed, varied schedule is already up at

The 17-member symphonic music ensemble Queens Orchestra is helmed by its founder and conductor Aleksandra Korobka. The 37-year-old musician from Kiev studied violin and conducting at the National Academy of Music of Ukraine and, she says, continues to hone her craft in courses with the greatest conducting masters. In 2020, she founded this unique orchestra composed only of Ukrainian women. They have husbands and friends in the war and they want to support them on the battlefield with music.

Can you introduce your orchestra, why is it all women?

It is a unique ensemble because it is composed only of women. It's women's because I'm an ambassador for women's opportunities and talents. (laughs) Women musicians are always about beauty and aesthetics. And the professionalism and the level of playing instruments is not inferior to men. Plus, I love working in a female ensemble. I can come to the rehearsal without make-up! (laughs)

You have a wide range of genres that you play. What will visitors of the Metronome Prague festival hear from you. Is this your first time playing in Prague or even in the Czech Republic?  

It's true, our repertoire is really very, very varied. The complete sound of the orchestra is always very strong, dense and, as they say nowadays, cool. I'll keep the names of the pieces that will be played a secret for now. It will be a surprise. Otherwise, we will play in the Czech Republic for the first time and we are already looking forward to it. We are really looking forward to Metronome Prague!

The musicians and I are especially happy that we can present the Ukrainian orchestra and Ukrainian culture at the famous festival in Prague. Moreover, Metronome is a jewel box with the most famous artists from different countries and styles. At such events there are always new, interesting meetings, exchanges of musical experiences. These are things that encourage creativity, so thank you very much to the organizers of Metronome Prague for inviting us!

What is your biggest inspiration in music at the moment?  
Humanity. It's always the biggest source of inspiration. In all its good or bad manifestations and seasons, it inspires to create something new.

As mentioned, your music draws from many genres, but what do you tend to gravitate towards now?

Our repertoire encompasses many styles and directions. We play classical music in modern arrangements, we play rock, jazz and of course some romantic pieces. Currently we have also included a lot of Ukrainian music. Although people don't know it, many hits were written by Ukrainian composers and it is a great honour and pleasure for us to present them in other countries. It is a great glory!   

Your families, children and husbands stayed in Ukraine. What is the situation there now from your point of view, are they in safe places?

Every day I'm afraid to update and browse social networks, like Facebook. Because every week I see news that some talented singer, conductor, composer, director or ordinary people, friends, are going to die. We are losing many talented people who will be very hard to replace. Many artists still stay in Ukraine because their families, their partners, their parents are there... We are very worried about them, but we respect their choice and we will always support them!

I understand that it's hard to say, but let's try to hang on. Who do you think will win this war and what do you think will happen next?

Most of the countries that support Ukraine are democratic. That is why I firmly believe that Ukraine will be the winner and with Ukraine the whole democratic world. After the war is over, it will be necessary to rebuild the economy. This will require investments by large corporations to build their production facilities on the territory of Ukraine. On the territory of a country which, with the support of the entire civilised world, defeated an authoritarian regime.

Do you perceive domestic support for the people in Ukraine and would you like to say something to them? 

People are very tired of the topic of the war in Ukraine. Of course, there are other things going on in the world and Ukraine is often no longer at the top of the European news agenda. However, the war continues in our country. In the last month, two of my musician friends have died in the war: a talented young conductor and a singer. When I came to the Czech Republic to meet the festival organisers, I saw Ukrainian flags everywhere. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who supports our country and culture in such a difficult time for everyone. And I will gladly express my gratitude through music and our performance, which will be at Metronome Prague.

David Pelán

16. 06. 2023