Musical staff

SMTD students and staff hold benefit concert for Ukraine at First Presbyterian Church to raise money for medical supplies

Performers from the University of Michigan School of Music, Drama and Dance and Jewish Family Services (JFS) performed a benefit concert for Ukraine on Sunday at the First Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor . About 200 community members attended the concert to raise funds to donate to Razom, a nonprofit organization dedicated to purchasing medical supplies, and JFS, which provide immigration services to Michigan families with relatives in Ukraine.

On February 24, Russian forces invaded Ukraine, causing mass casualties, a refugee crisis and the destruction of property.

Music, theater and dance freshman Sasha Gusikhin and college alumnus Valentin Kovalev, a classical saxophonist, led the effort to set up, organize and market the event.

Gusikhin said that as a Russian-American, she felt it was important to do whatever she could to help those affected by the war. Gusikhin said her experience working as a soprano section leader at First Presbyerian Church inspired her to organize a benefit concert.

“I think music creates a form of connection, especially through a concert, and is one of the most effective ways to coordinate, unite and mobilize people,” Gusikhin said. “I was so thrilled to see the turnout and to see our Ann Arbor community come together and support us. I’m so grateful to everyone who came out.

The event began with a performance of the Ukrainian national anthem, which was followed by performances by organ, cello, violin and piano. The program also included pieces arranged by Ukrainian composers such as Holosinnya by Stanyslav Lyudkevych and Chervona Ruta by Volodymyr Ivasiuk.

Ken Fischer, President Emeritus of the University Musical Society, moderated the event and explained the importance of community-level action in times of crisis.

“In response to this humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, we as a community pledge our support to those affected by this devastating war,” Fischer said.

Mira Sussman, JFS Refugee Resource Development Manager, spoke at the event and said that with many religions approaching major holidays, now is the time to give to the less fortunate.

“We are entering a holy season,” Sussman said. “For Christians, it is preparation for Good Friday and Easter. We Jews are preparing for Passover and we are also in the holy month of Ramadan for the Muslim community. It is a time of great spirituality and our hearts are open to change and generosity. We hope and pray in all our languages ​​for peace and calm and an end to war. It will take people from all walks of life to fix this world. Choukran. Today. Thank you.”

Irene Watts, director of corporate relations at the Ukrainian-American and First-Generation Ukrainian-American Crisis Response Committee, said she has cousins ​​who are currently fighting the war in Ukraine.

Watts said the medical backpacks – which include a tourniquet, a ventilated chest seal to treat wounds and Celox, a blood-clotting haemostatic agent priced at $90 – are what Ukrainian citizens need most now .

“These are items that all frontline workers and volunteers use to stay alive,” Watts said. “For $90 you can save a life. Thank you for being there, supporting us and sharing your talents with us. We definitely need more arts every day because they are the universal language.

Daily journalist Varsha Vedapudi can be contacted at [email protected].