Strings That Tell a Story

Marki Lukyniuk, UT Student Violinist | Nathan Sparks

Violinist Marki Lukyniuk brings vibrant performances to East TN

Watching Marki Lukyniuk play the violin is invigorating. There’s such energy in his movements. Passion behind every note. Whether it’s a quiet classical piece or a pop song reinvented on the strings of his violin, every song he plays feels new.

Marki is a University of Tennessee junior, but has made great leaps in East Tennessee since arriving in Knoxville seven months ago. From wine bars and cafes to weddings and benefit concerts, he’s played his instrument far and wide, sharing his gift with all who will listen. “I love that I can serve people with my talent,” he says, “that my service would help someone feel better.”

Marki hails from western Ukraine. He grew up playing the violin, beginning at the age of five. “My uncle grew up playing the violin”—he played for a symphony orchestra—”and that’s why my mother decided to send me and my brother to the music school,” he says. “She wanted us to play the violin.” Little did Marki know that he would have a natural talent for the art.

Marki practiced every day once he began, anywhere from 20 minutes to four hours a day. After years of playing, he hit a point where he “saw people engaging with my music, enjoying my performance,” he says. “That’s when I realized that’s what I want to do. I want to entertain people and see the smiles on their faces. And I would do anything to become better at it.”

Marki Lukyniuk, UT Student Violinist | Nathan Sparks

That came into play last year when Marki was faced with the difficult decision of whether to stay in his home country or apply elsewhere to pursue his talents. He had been studying music at the Kyiv Conservatory. “A long time ago I said my mission is to be a musician and play for people and if my opportunities were limited in Ukraine and I couldn’t finish my studies, I decided I had to sacrifice whatever I had in Ukraine—friends, family—and go chase my dreams,” he says.

The conservatory was closed for a while as a result of the war with Russia, and while it planned to eventually open back up, “I knew it was not safe to be there,” Marki says. “It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make, but it definitely was one of the best.”

In the fall of 2022, after Marki had already arrived here in Knoxville to continue his violin studies, the park he frequented with his friends near the Kyiv Conservatory along with the popular Glass Bridge where Marki would often spend time busking, were bombed.

Marki would spend a portion of his fall semester planning a benefit concert for his friends back home. “I thought, what if I decided to stay and go to this park with my friends or play on this bridge? What could have happened? I was really frustrated and I wanted to send some money home.” The benefit ensured that he could send more than simply what was in his pockets.

Now Marki continues playing across the region, engaging listeners in a variety of genres, though his personal favorites are funk and pop, “Michael Jackson, James Brown, just music that gives me energy so I can give that energy to people.”

Marki’s plan is to finish his bachelor’s degree at the UT next year, continuing his studies under Violin Professor Miroslav Hristov, and hopes to then go on to pursue his masters in violin in Miami, where his older brother, Kostia, is currently pursuing his own.   

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