‘Voices for Ukraine’ benefit concert supports refugees

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Utah musicians and artists gathered in the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City Monday evening to perform a benefit concert on behalf of the Utah Ukrainian Association.

The Utah Ukrainian Association donated 100% of the proceeds to send essential supplies to Ukraine and specifically to Stella’s House, a nonprofit organization providing aid to volunteers helping refugees in Moldova. 

The concert featured performances by the Trumpets of the Utah Symphony, the University of Utah O.C. Tanner String Quartet, trainees of Ballet West Academy, local Ukrainian musicians, singer/songwriter Alex Boyé, the Utah Opera Chorus and The Choristers of The Madeleine Choir School.

Local artists also sold their art in the lobby of the cathedral, donating revenue to support Ukrainian refugees. Among the artists was Merle French, selling self-made jewelry.

“It really got to me, what’s happening over there,” French said. “It was so unexpected, so violent, so unnecessary.”

Two Ukrainian women spoke at the event, one being Utah Ukrainian Association board member Yulia Holko. Holko articulated how attendees could help: scanning the PayPal QR codes on the programs and donating, signing a petition urging the Utah government to accept Ukrainian refugees and buying the art in the lobby. 

The second speaker was Ukrainian Utah resident Kateryna Hansen, who shared how the war in Ukraine has affected her personally.

“My hometown, once known as ‘The City of Roses,’ has been reduced to rubble,” she said referring to Donetsk, Ukraine.

Hansen also tearfully described the experiences of many of her loved ones in Ukraine, including a friend forced to flee with her two-year-old son, an elderly uncle who “hides under his couch during airstrikes because he is too ill to make it to a bomb shelter,” a cousin who remains in Kyiv while his wife seeks refuge in Slovakia and another friend whose whereabouts are unknown.

“We have not heard from her in three weeks,” Hansen said. “It feels strange not knowing if she’s alive.”

Melanie Melinka, director of music at The Madeleine Choir School, said the concert was planned after an alumni parent, active in the refugee community, asked the Utah Ukrainian Association how the school could help. The school reached out to other performers in Utah to broaden the reach of the concert. 

“As a teacher, it was important for me to find a meaningful, hands-on way to get involved,” Melinka said. “We want all of our students to learn that service is important, so we have lots of service projects throughout the year.”

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