More than 100 supporters of Ukraine packed Memorial Church Friday to attend a concert dedicated to the victims of the war in Ukraine on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion.
Organized by the Harvard Ukrainian Student Association and the Harvard College Piano Society, the concert sought to raise awareness of Ukrainian culture and raise funds to support the Ukrainian war effort.
The event featured musical ensembles and poetry readings, including a choral arrangement of “Prayer for Ukraine” by Mykola Lysenko. Guest musician Teryn Kuzma performed selections on the bandura, the national instrument of Ukraine, and the concert closed with the singing of the Ukrainian National Anthem.
“I hope that tonight’s concert would not only provide an opportunity for reflection and remembrance but also inspire us to work towards a better future,” said Diana Lysenko, co-president of the Harvard Ukrainian Student Association and student at Harvard Extension School.
Diana Lysenko — Mykola Lysenko’s great-great-niece — said the dedication concert aimed to help those impacted by the war by raising awareness of the current situation in Ukraine.
“We are raising awareness in the community, making sure that Ukraine news stays on page one and not page four,” Lysenko said.
Organizers promoted the Razom for Ukraine fundraiser, which provides Ukrainians with humanitarian aid and medical supplies.
“I know that currently they are fundraising for the emergency generators for the hospitals in Ukraine,” Lysenko said. “They also provide humanitarian aid, so anything from food to baby necessities, personal care items, even abortion pills in certain cases, where women have been raped and they need help.”
Co-President of the Harvard College Piano Society Hyuntae Choi ’24, who helped organize the event and performed several compositions on the piano, said he joined the concert to help support Ukraine.
“I don’t have any personal connections with the war in Ukraine, but I thought it would be valuable to show support in the way that I know best how to, which is to create a musical space to gather the Harvard and local Boston community together to mark this one-year anniversary since the invasion,” Choi said.
When choosing pieces for the concert, the organizers said they wanted to focus on Ukrainian composers to best highlight Ukrainian culture, but they also aimed to tell a story.
“We didn’t want to make it just about the war; we also wanted to make it about highlighting Ukrainian music and Ukrainian culture,” he said. “Ultimately, we wanted to end on more of a message of hope and optimism and a sentiment for rebuilding.”
“All of these pieces reflect that longing for freedom and that patriotism and that pride in being Ukrainian and not having that taken away from you by Russia,” Lysenko said.
Lysenko said that support from the student body has been very helpful, noting that every participant in the dedication concert, including speakers, musicians, and organizers, was a volunteer.
“They volunteered to perform and they’ve dedicated their time and their effort to even learn Ukrainian which is really hard,” Lysenko said. “Students have been really active when it comes to fundraising, organizing events.”
Lysenko was born in Ukraine and reflected on the difficulty of watching the country in its current state.
“I still have friends and family who live there. It’s a place where you learn how to ride a bike, where you had your first kiss,” Lysenko said. “It’s been very difficult.”