The Yavir School of Ukrainian Dance. Photo courtesy Vivien Fellegi

Musical showcase for Ukraine to highlight global solidarity

  • May 9, 2022

On May 15, Toronto’s Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Holy Protection will host the Unite for Ukraine: A Musical Benefit from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Freelance journalist Vivien Fellegi tapped into her extensive contact base to assemble a diverse lineup of musical performers set to entertain in-person and online spectators attending.

“Music is so universal and powerful, and I wanted this night to feature a wide range of performers from around the world to send a clear message to Ukrainians living in Canada, and anyone who may tune in from Ukraine or other countries, that a lot of people care,” said Fellegi. “Ukraine is not alone.”

Fellegi specifically mentioned the married Syrian musical duo Esmaeel Abofakher & Rahaf Alakbani. They lived through the dangerous civil unrest in their home country before immigrating to Canada and finding contentment. Their life experience suggests a form of kinship with the Ukrainians during these perilous times.

Two groups will fill the Holy Protection parish hall with Ukrainian artistry. The program will spotlight the Yavir School of Ukrainian Dance and the vocal prowess of Kalendar, a five-member team who evokes the spirit of Ukrainian village lifestyle. The Quintageous Woodwind Quintet, Marty and Friends bluegrass band, the Lunar Bloom folk singers and pop singer David Kroo round out the slate of performers.

Fellegi said her own family history magnetized her towards this cause.

“I identify particularly with this conflict in Ukraine because my parents lived at that time under the iron first of the Soviet empire. My grandfather owned a factory in a small town in Hungary, and because he was considered a ‘dirty capitalist,’ my father was banned forever from attending university,” she said.

While entertaining the audience is an important objective, the core mission of the benefit is raising proceeds for the Canada-Ukraine Foundation, a non-profit sending food, medical supplies and other humanitarian aid to the conflict zones.

Lisa Shymko, a parishioner of Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Holy Protection and vice president of Toronto Eparchy's Ukrainian Catholic Women's League, will be a key voice at the benefit.

Shymko hopes that events like the benefit will encourage Canadians to keep focusing their attention and passion on the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

“My hope is that we don’t just talk about it only for one month or two, but instead it will be a sustained effort and that we also raise awareness for the efforts of how neighbouring countries like Poland that are supporting Ukraine.”


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