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Melikian Center hosts benefit concert to bring hope, assistance to children of Ukraine

Children onstage singing with an older woman.

The Phoenix Ukrainian Children’s Choir and Zephryn Conte, singer-songwriter and peace educator, performing one of Conte’s original songs. Photo courtesy The Melikian Center

October 09, 2023

In the aftermath of the devastating events and ongoing violence that have unfolded in Ukraine, a multitude of avenues for extending support have emerged, each with its unique resonance and impact.

The Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and Eastern European Studies at Arizona State University, in coordination with H.E.A.R.T. (Helping Everywhere with Art), Free Arts of Arizona and the Rebuild the World Foundation, hosted a benefit concert Friday, Oct. 6, that brought together a diverse array of talents, all rallying behind the greater cause of helping Ukraine and Ukrainians.

The master of ceremonies for the concert, Sven (Sveno) Olson, who served for 27 years in the military, including in the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, emphasized the impact of the event in support of the Radobat program organized by the Ukrainian organization Radooga, which provides trauma therapy through robotics clubs and camps for Ukrainian children.

The event included performances that not only entertained but also stirred the hearts and minds of those in attendance. Renowned drummers Koshio Gumi and the Piestewa Peak Sunrise Drummer Ken Koshio graced the stage with their virtuoso drumming skills, filling the venue with an atmosphere charged with unity and hope. And the Phoenix Ukrainian Children's Choir, a living testament to the enduring spirit of Ukrainian culture, delivered a heartwarming performance that resonated deeply with the audience.

Additionally, the event featured Zephryn Conte, whose innovative compositions transcended musical boundaries. These performances were not merely for entertainment; they were powerful expressions of solidarity and support for Ukraine and its people.

Beyond the musical performances, the event also played host to an auction, which proved to be a highlight of the evening. A captivating array of valuable artworks and products, generously donated by artists and sponsors, found new owners during the auction. What made the auction particularly noteworthy was its purpose: Every single dollar raised was dedicated to supporting the children of Ukraine.

The event also demonstrated its commitment to inclusivity by providing free admission to two Arizona children currently in the foster system for every ticket sold.

The benefit concert served as a compelling testament to the transformative power of art, the unwavering spirit of charity, and the boundless potential of goodwill when they converge for a common cause.

As Ukraine continues its journey toward recovery and healing, events such as these shine brightly as beacons of hope, reminding us that, even in the face of overwhelming adversity, we have the ability to make a difference, one note, one brushstroke, and one act of kindness at a time.

Written by Victor Johnson, digital marketing specialist, The Melikian Center

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