Weekend concert series raises money for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine

·2 min read
Musicians play at a free outdoor concert at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa on Saturday. The concert — one of two held on the weekend — was put on in order to raise money for humanitarian relief in Ukraine. (Nafi Alibert/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Musicians play at a free outdoor concert at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa on Saturday. The concert — one of two held on the weekend — was put on in order to raise money for humanitarian relief in Ukraine. (Nafi Alibert/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Violins sang out for Ukraine over the weekend, as a series of benefit concerts in Ottawa aimed to raise $100,000 for humanitarian efforts in the country.

Two concerts, held Saturday at Lansdowne Park and Sunday in the ByWard market, featured a mix of classical music and traditional Ukrainian music.

Judit Marton, a violinist whose daughter lives in Poland, decided to organize the concert series after her anxiety from watching the news sent her to see a cardiologist.

"I said, instead of destroying myself, why don't I take all this energy, all this nervousness and do something good with it," she said.

So Marton contacted a friend and asked if they would be willing to play some music with her in the ByWard market to raise some money — and the ideas snowballed from there.

"It's grown from an idea to all these people, all these musicians putting their heart and soul into making a difference," said Marton.

Sarah Kester/CBC
Sarah Kester/CBC

Saturday's concert at Lansdowne Park featured Ukrainian violinist Vasyl Popadiuk, while several choirs took part in Sunday's concert.

Cash donations were collected directly from people in the crowd, Marton said, as well as via an online fundraiser.

Anna Fedorova, who arrived in Canada from Ukraine a week ago with her children, came out Sunday with her host Sophie Hargest to show their support for the humanitarian efforts.

"We hear bombs in Kyiv, and I decided that my children cannot listen it and be [there]. So we decided to leave," Federova said.

Mita Patel attended Saturday's concert at Lansdowne with some friends who are originally from Ukraine.

"[The music] is so beautiful and haunting," said Patel, who lives in Toronto but was in the city visiting her parents.

"It brings all the emotions to the surface, just makes you feel what the people of Ukraine are going through right now and that we are somehow connected."

Sarah Kester/CBC
Sarah Kester/CBC

Situation in Ukraine 'remains dire'

Andrii Bukvych, chargé d'affaires at the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottawa, called the concerts an important sign of unity and support.

"Unfortunately, the situation [in Ukraine] remains dire," Bukvych said.

Over the weekend, Russian missiles pounded the southern port city of Odesa, and there was heavy fighting in the eastern part of the country. including around Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine.

In Mariupol, hundreds of civilians have been rescued from a steel plant in a week-long operation brokered by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Ukrainian forces at the plant vowed Sunday to continue their stand.

Justin Trudeau paid a surprise visit to Ukraine on Sunday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and reopened the Canadian Embassy, welcoming back the Canadian ambassador.

Trudeau briefly toured a blackened, bombed-out suburban community and visited the city of Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, which was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in March as Russian forces attempted to storm the capital.

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