I VERY much doubt if anyone in the packed concert hall for the traditional BSO New Year Viennese Gala will forget this experience.

They may, like me have felt privileged to be part of something quite so poignant, unique and of the moment.

It’s 1,338km from Vienna to Kyiv but the two cities came together in this very special performance under the baton of Chief Conductor, Kirill Karabits.

The concert was a mix of the big Strauss favourites and six hauntingly beautiful Ukrainian folk songs for Christmas and New Year, magically performed by Karabits’ compatriot, soloist Ruslana Lotsman, dressed in national costume.

That this should happen now, just as a new offensive against Ukraine has begun, made this occasion even more special and symbolic.

The soaring sweet beauty of her voice contrasted starkly with the ugliness and brutality of the war being waged.

In his fifteen unforgettable years as Chief Conductor, Karabits has asked the BSO audiences to look east in championing composers from that part of the world. This is a big part of his exceptional legacy.

In the first part of the programme, the orchestra performed three of Strauss’s pieces featuring eastern influence, A Thousand and One Nights Waltz, Persian March and Fairytales from the Orient Waltz.

The second half included favourites such as the Emperor Waltz, Voices of Spring, the Blue Danube and the Radetzky March - normally the final encore.

But to the delight of all, Karabits broke with tradition and the musicians played what the conductor said was the world’s most famous Christmas carol.

He smiled and told the audience: “You know it, you just don’t know it’s Ukrainian.”

Indeed, we do all know the delightful Ukrainian Bell Carol.

Karabits was at his finest, fairly bouncing off the podium and bringing the most rousing pieces to an end with a dramatic flourish of his spellbinding baton-turned-wand.

He was clearly proud to share more of his heritage with the BSO faithful.

Before she left the stage Ms Lotsman offered heartfelt thanks for the support for Ukraine.

It cannot have been lost on anyone in audience that the music is one part of what Ukraine is fighting for. Its heart, soul, culture, way of life, future.

This was indeed another afternoon that showed the universal power of music.