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Arts Features

Ukrainian benefit concert in Rochester raises thousands for relief efforts

 The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra was joined by other musicians and singers in a benefit concert for Ukraine in Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theatre on Mar. 12, 2022.
Randy Gorbman
/
WXXI News
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra was joined by other musicians and singers in a benefit concert for Ukraine in Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theatre on Mar. 12, 2022.

Hundreds of people turned out at Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theatre Saturday night for a benefit concert for Ukraine.

The event that featured the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and other musicians and singers started off with the Ukrainian national anthem. And that was symbolic of the spirit many in the local Ukrainian American community have expressed in recent days since their native country was invaded by Russian forces.

The Rochester area has one of the larger concentrations of people of Ukrainian descent in the country, with an estimated 40,000 people linking their heritage to that country.

During the benefit concert, local Nazareth College Associate Professor of Political Science, and Ukrainian native, Olena Prokopovych, talked about visiting the city where she grew up, Chernihiv, last summer, and she remembers how beautiful it had looked.

“But today, my city is scarred with bomb craters, the size of single family homes,” said Prokopovych. “Its theaters, schools, libraries and stadiums are destroyed every day.”

Prokopvych added that, “We know that today Ukraine is struggling, not for itself alone, but for the future of the entire world. For the kind of world in which love and respect, freedom and creativity, democracy and justice, flourish, inspire and spread.”

Curt Long, the President and CEO of the RPO, was glad the orchestra could help bring people together this weekend.

“One of our sayings at the RPO is that music helps to connect the community,” said Long. “And I think this is a really visible and emotional way to do that. We bring people together, and music is a universal language and it speaks to and for everybody.”

It’s estimated the benefit concert, which was just organized over the last week, raised more than $50,000 to provide humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Volodymyr Pavlyuk, a coordinator with RocMaidan, a local humanitarian organization working to collect humanitarian aid for Ukraine, said that Ukrainians do appreciate all of the support they are getting.

“That’s what we try to send message to them, that they’re not alone,” said Pavlyuk. “The whole world, right now, stays with them and Rochester (is) part of this support. So yes, it means a lot.”

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