The concert featured performances from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music students and raised money for humanitarian aid organization Nova Ukraine. Credit: Duncan Agnew

About 50 people gathered at the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts on Northwestern University’s campus Sunday afternoon for a concert to benefit Ukraine.

The event featured classical music performances by students from the Bienen School of Music, including opening and closing songs on piano composed by the Ukrainian artists Mykola Lysenko and Sergei Bortkiewicz.

The organizers of the concert, primarily Ukrainian students at Northwestern, encouraged attendees to donate to Nova Ukraine, a group providing medical and humanitarian aid to Ukrainians amid the war with Russia.

Northwestern for Ukraine, an informal group of Ukrainian students and allies, hosts weekly meetings and planned Sunday’s concert. So far, it has raised almost $20,000 for Ukrainian defense and aid organizations since Russia invaded the country last February.

Sonya Voloboi, one of the organizing students, grew up in Ukraine before moving to the United States with her family 10 years ago. Recently, keeping up momentum in support of Ukraine has become more of a challenge as Americans grow more and more “jaded” by the war, she said.

“I think it’s hard not to get burnt out from all of it,” Voloboi said. “But I don’t really want to accept the war in Ukraine as the new normal. And I don’t think any of us are ready to just accept Russian occupation, Russian terrorism as a new normal. It’s a normal that we are fighting against and actively trying to do what we can to oppose.”

Part of that effort has involved organizing opportunities to center Ukrainian art and culture, like with Sunday’s concert. Northwestern for Ukraine has also met with the Slavic studies department to come up with ways to teach people more about Ukrainian history, as well. This fall, that department is offering a new class called “Ukraine and its fight for independence.”

And moving forward, Voloboi and the rest of the group want people to know that Ukrainians and Ukrainian Americans, unlike others without any family in Ukraine, do not get the privilege of taking a break from watching news about the war.

“The reality is that there is a war in Ukraine, and it is still an effort that we have to make on a daily, weekly basis to make sure that we’re doing our part in supporting our families, supporting the Ukrainian community,” she said. “It’s a luxury to be able to be jaded. It’s easy to forget about the war in Ukraine when it’s not something that’s impacting you on a daily basis.”

Duncan Agnew

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...

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