Students and faculty from the IU Jacobs School of Music performed a concert to show their solidarity with Ukraine at 7 p.m. on March 27 at the First United Church.
The concert featured several renditions of classical music by 20 members of the music school. Entry was free to the public, and those attending were encouraged throughout the evening to make donations to several aid agencies listed on the event’s website.
Else Trygstad-Burke, a graduate student in the music school, organized the concert. She gathered a list of aid agencies she’d seen widely recommended or that were recommended to her by IU faculty, including: Polska Akcja Humanitarna, Fundacja Ocalenie, Save the Children, Sunflower of Peace, Care – Ukraine Crisis Fund and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Trygstad-Burke said in recent weeks, she’s wanted to put together some sort of event to fundraise and show her solidarity with Ukraine. She said the concert was the first thing that came to mind.
“I've been so upset about what's been going on,” Trygstad-Burke said. “I just felt like I needed to take action in some small way. And for me, music is always the thing I go to for solace, and to help me process things.”
The pieces were peaceful, somber arrangements on cello, piano, violin or viola. As each artist played, the small crowd fell quiet to listen to each arrangement. Some of the performers began their pieces with short speeches of support, and others wore blue and yellow to pay homage to the Ukrainian flag.
Trygstad-Burke said she wanted those in the audience to feel at peace for the evening. She said music has a healing quality that can help people work through the difficult emotions, as many people have felt since the conflict began.
“It's just good to be able to come together and listen to music for an hour and find some inner peace,” Trygstad-Burke said. “There's a lot of support to be found in music and in community.”
Kira Axiom, an IU alumna who attended the concert, said it’s important to show support even from here in Bloomington. The music helped those in the audience feel solidarity with Ukraine, Axiom said.
“We're so far away from the whole thing,” Axiom said. “But if we were in that situation, we’d want people to help us. We're all connected in some way.”
The feeling of solidarity in the crowd was visible near the show’s end. As a string quartet played the Ukrainian national anthem, the audience and performers slowly, silently rose to show their respect.
Emilio Colón, a cello professor in the music school, said the evening was important to him because of his personal connection to Ukraine. Having played in Ukraine many times, he spoke fondly of the country and its people.
Colón performed twice during the evening — first, he played two short cello pieces by Reinhold Glière, a classical composer born in Kyiv, Ukraine.
“I felt that those two specific ones portrayed this incredible passion and joy for life that every Ukrainian that I've ever come in contact with has,” Colón said.
To close the show, Colón led a group of his cello students in a performance of “Song of the Birds” by Pablo Casals, which Colón said was originally played by the composer as a call for peace during conflict.
When Trygstad-Burke said she wanted to host a benefit concert, Colón said he told her to immediately count him in.
“I'll do anything for a country that is full of beautiful people, people who are just fighting for their freedom, for their land, for the right to be where they should,” Colón said.