18 May 2022

Music for Ukraine brings our finest performers together for fundraising concert at ANU

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Musician Larissa Kovalchuk with bandura

Larissa Kovalchuk performs at the Canberra International Music Festival. Photo: Peter Hislop.

Canberra’s three major classical and contemporary music organisations will collaborate for the first time on a major fundraising event to aid victims of the war in Ukraine.

The Canberra International Music Festival, Canberra Symphony Orchestra and ANU School of Music have pooled their talents and resources for the event on Tuesday 31 May at Llewelyn Hall.

Funds raised will go to the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders’ Ukraine appeals.

The concert will illustrate the close ties between Australia and Ukraine. Performances will include music by bandura player Larissa Kovalchuk, whose instrument is described as “the soul of Ukraine”, didgeridoo player William Barton and Australian tenor Andrew Goodwin.

READ ALSO Australia must do what it can to help Ukraine

Folk music will feature on the program alongside works from Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov, beloved for his poetic music and now exiled to Berlin as a direct consequence of the war.

Ensembles include the CSO Chamber Ensemble an augmented ANU Chamber Choir directed by Roland Peelman and the ANU Orchestra, conducted by Max McBride with guests from the CSO.

Peelman will play for Andrew Goodwin, who was educated in Russia and has a Russian wife and many relatives in Ukraine.

Goodwin, who performs each year at CIMF, has already run a successful fundraising concert at Angel Place in Sydney to benefit Ukrainian war victims.

head shot of tenor Andrew Goodwin

Tenor Andrew Goodwin is part of the fundraising concert. Photo: Supplied.

“This will be a very authentic and wide ranging event,” Peelman says.

“The situation in Ukraine is close to the bone for many with family members in Ukraine, but more broadly than that, we think of Ukraine and Russia as part and parcel of our musical culture, our Western musical tradition.

“We need to separate humanity from the political issues and focus on the plight of millions of beleaguered Ukrainians suffering through this terrible war.”

He points to the examples of symphony orchestras in Kyiv and Lviv, who have found ways to continue performing throughout the war, and the Ukrainian freedom orchestra assembled in Poland to tour Europe.

READ ALSO War is not a method for solving political problems, says local Russian Orthodox Church leader

There is an immense humanitarian effort to accommodate more than five million refugees in Peelman’s birthplace, Belgium, and many other European nations.

Temporary villages are being erected and access to healthcare and education is being provided for those fleeing the conflict.

ANU School of Music head professor Kim Cunio agrees. “Musicians always care”, he says.

“We feel the injustices of the world as much as anyone and we have something we can do to allow us to process these difficult things beyond the intellect.

“The concert is a chance to not only raise money but come to terms with the depth of our feelings at such a difficult time.

“I’m personally very excited to see Canberra’s three major musical organisations come together to make a difference. Who knows where this may lead to in the future?”

Musician William Barton with didgeridoo

Multi-instrumentalist William Barton is a Canberra regular. Photo: Supplied.

Peelman says that the chance for musicians and feature artists from each of the three organisations is a special one for local music lovers.

“We’ll have the School of Music Orchestra at their best, the CSO performing superbly and many of the best artists associated with the Canberra International Music Festival making a contribution,” he says.

“Clearly the situation in Ukraine is dire and the level of destruction that has already taken place will take many more years to rectify if conflict does come to an end.

“To reach out with music is a very nice way to help.”

Tickets ($75 / $55) are available online here or by calling CSO Direct on 02 6262 6772 (weekdays from 10 am to 3 pm). Tickets will also be available at the door; all seating will be general admission.

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