• The “Overseas Hundred”

    After the events at Maidan, every Ukrainian helps his people every way they can.

    IMG_7448 (Small)“Even if we can support just one family of the deceased hero, or just one widow – our work is not in vain,” – says Ilya Prysiazhnyuk. By “work” Ilya meant a concert – a brilliant benefit performance, which he and his friends – Ukrainian singers and musicians – gave the night before at the Hamburg Chamber Opera. The aim of the concert was to raise funds to donate to the families affected by the war in Donbass. The concert accomplished its aim manyfold. However, unexpectedly even for the musicians themselves, it had produced something more – the Hamburg musicians presented their native country – Ukraine. Moreover, they presented it at the level of the highest world standards. The hall with more than 200 seats was full and rewarded the performers with thunderous applause and shouts of “bravo”. A German public was watching in shock, when a Ukrainian part of the audience was singling in chorus the song “Two Colors”, performed by the bass Andrew Valigurasu, apparently not understanding why such a lyrical song unites everyone like an anthem; without understanding the words “… Cervone (“red”) – that is love, a chorne (“black”) is “zhurba” (“sorrow”). Yet, it is “Red” and “Black” appeared to be precisely the root cause of this musical evening.

    Ilya Prysiazhnyuk who lives in Germany for 2 years now, travelled throughout Ukraine last summer. He saw a huge number of refugees, the government who is unable to cope with their flow, and volunteers exhausted in providing humanitarian aid. Ilya returned to Hamburg obsessed with an idea to do something helpful. Starting from the events at Maidan, every Ukrainian helps his people every way they can. Ilya is tenor, and his wife Natalia who is soprano, another soprano Julia B?ttcher and violinist Andrew B?ttcher joined their efforts in organizing a charity concert. The primary task was to find a place with minimum rent which the participants could pay, and holding at least 200 seats. Some other Ukrainian artists who work in Germany, Andrew Valiguras, bass, and Olesya Salvitskaya, pianist, responded immediately. But the concert became a reality only when Klaus Pine (who was leading the concert) and Andrew B?ttcher agreed on the premise with the management of the theater where Andrew works – the Hamburg Chamber Opera submitted their hall for free. That in itself was a miraculous. The rehearsals for the concert appeared to be unusual, too: there was neither a director, nor the manager – all things were done by the performers themselves. The participants from other cities would come for rehearsals at their own expense, the brochures and posters were ordered also on the participants’ means, let alone fees. The General Consulate of Ukraine in Hamburg rendered us an information support, having organized a press conference, with the rest of arrangements for the event, 2.5-hour recital in two parts, being done by the performers.

      This is an external, visible side of events. But there is an “underwater” layer, which may not be apprehended even by the participants themselves. All Ukrainian artists, the participants of the concert, are not just artists; they are the top-class masters. The repertoire of the singers, violinists and pianists, comprising of the works of the greatest composers from different countries and epochs, are of different levels of complexity. Their world is the world of harmony and celebration of the spirit. And what a terrible contrast to this world, and not only the contrast – the threat – is manifested by a dark shapeless mass of an entropy creeping from the east, brandishing the Russian weapons, turning churches and homes into ruins. It is the eternal protest of the creating artist against decay and destruction, though not distinctively declared through the musical works performed in the program, but clearly sensed and served as a powerful energy wave that made the audience – both Germans, and Ukrainians – to give a standing ovation.

    The performing artists have donated all the funds raised from the concert to the Fund “Deutschland f?r die Ukraine” (“Germany for Ukraine”) who delivers aid directly to the Ukrainian families who lost their breadwinners.

    The “Overseas hundred” is in action.

    Vera Weisberg