Upcoming Concert Will Benefit Ukrainian Musicians

An upcoming concert at Beacon Hill Friends House will benefit Ukrainian musicians – a cause that hits particularly close to home for one of the performers who helped conceive and organize the event.

Violist, Alex Vavilov, who is from Kyiv (and still has family there), and the Sheffield Chamber Players, the group he co-founded in 2014, will perform at the benefit concert on Monday, May 30, at 7 p.m. at Beacon Hill Friends House, located at 8 Chestnut St., which takes places both  in-person and virtually.

The Sheffield Chamber Players, with violist Alex Vavilov (far right).

The concert will feature music by Golijov, Mozart, and Shostakovich, as well as an arrangement of Ukrainian songs by Alexei Talanov, a friend of Vavilov’s who still lives in Kyiv.

Vavilov grew up in  Kyiv but relocated to Boston in 2001 to attend Boston Conservatory and the New England Conservatory. Today, he still has friends in orchestras, as well as his brother, his parents, and his immediate family, all living in Kyiv.

“It’s been an incredibly shocking experience for all of us,” Vavilov said of seeing Ukraine ravaged by war. “My personal reaction was to try to help in any way I can. One such way is to organize financial support for Ukrainian musicians.”

Nearly all the proceeds from the concert will go to benefit the Relief Fund for Ukrainian Musicians​, which Vavilov initiated in collaboration with the King Baudouin Foundation United States (KBFUS) and the Lisa Batiashvili Foundation (LBF) in Germany to support humanitarian assistance for Ukrainian musicians and their families. Vavilov and Christina English, administrative coordinator of Sheffield Chamber Players, are the project coordinator and assistant project coordinator of the Relief Fund, respectively.

To donate to the Relief Fund, which has set a fundraising goal of $50,000, visit https://kbfus.networkforgood.com/projects/54386-l-kbfus-funds-lisa-batiashvili-foundation-e-v-de.

The fund prioritizes musicians from the hardest hit areas of the war, like Mariupol, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Severodonetsk.

“Everyone I know, once the war started in Ukraine, wanted to find a way to contribute and in some way to mobilize and help fight back, and this is the way we can do this,” said Vavilov. “We can help rebuild and help support the culture of Ukraine through a disastrous time in that country. I just want people to understand this is an incredible way to directly affect some people who have suffered the most.”

Nils Klinkenberg, executive director of Beacon Hill Friends House, said their organization immediately jumped on board  once they heard about Vavilov’s plan to stage a concert to benefit Ukrainian musicians.

“We host a lot of events to support social causes and love welcoming outside groups in our two-story Meeting Room here on Chestnut Street,” Klinkenberg wrote in an email. “Quakers have a long tradition of responding to the humanitarian needs of those affected by war and violence, and as a Quaker organization, we work to carry on that tradition.”

Added Klinkenberg, “It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of violence so far away, but this benefit event is one specific step we can take to support those suffering from the war in Ukraine.”

As for how Vavilov initially connected with Klinkenberg, the credit there goes to Michael Maler, a Temple Street resident, as well as Historic New England’s Metro-Boston Regional Site Administrator.

“I’ve worked with Nils and Alex and the Sheffield Chamber Players and saw a need through Alex and a willingness through Nils,” said Maler. “As a Beacon Hill resident, I felt it was also a way for community to give back, but Alex and Nils deserve all the credit.”

Register at https://lu.ma/relief-fund-ukrainian-musicians to attend the concert in person (advance tickets are required to attend in person, and proof of vaccination and masks will be required), or register at  https://lu.ma/ukraine-musicians-benefit-livestream for the virtual concert.

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