NEW YORK (WABC) -- Thursday night marks the start of Ukraine Freedom!, a three-day series of concerts to raise money for medical supplies and humanitarian aid for the people of Ukraine who remain under fierce attack by Russian forces.
A group of musicians originally from Ukraine is coming together in Brooklyn to try and help.
The shows came about after the owner of a venue in Prospect Heights reached out to pianist Alex Pryrodny, who felt the need to help raise money for those under siege in a country where his own relatives still live.
The result of their efforts is also a chance to present the richness and beauty of Ukrainian culture.
Pryrodny played a piece called "Prayer for the Ukraine," written by Mykola Lysenko, considered the country's greatest living composer.
What makes this music even more resonant right now is the fact that Lysenko was forced into exile after the Russian invasion.
"I felt in shock," Pryrodny said. "It was something out of a movie. It was something that could not be happening."
Cellist Valeriya Sholokhova agreed that the beginning of the invasion was shocking.
"The first few days were entirely heartbreaking," Sholokhova said. "Absolutely everything hurt."
Sholokhova was recruited by Pryrodny, who found himself asking how he could help.
"After I came out of the initial feeling of shock, I felt like I had to do something to help the people of Ukraine," he said.
That's when he was approached by Jimmy Greenfield, owner of Soap Box Gallery in Prospect Heights.
"What I do here is this streaming, and it really reaches everywhere," he said. "It's a 'pay what you wish' model. We encourage everyone to just come, listen to the music, and on your way out, leave us a tip."
They hope to raise $30,000, but also to raise awareness.
"We need to put Ukraine on the cultural map," Sholokhova said. "So much of our history and culture has been erased."
She calls this her "mission in life," because she believes the Russian government seeks to eradicate her country's culture.
"The first line of the Ukrainian anthem is that Ukraine hasn't died yet," she said. "And this gives us hope for a hopeful, beautiful future."
Her tears are shed for her beloved country, which remains under siege. To listen to Ukrainian musicians is to learn much more than you can by watching the news.
The first of their concerts is Thursday at 7 p.m., and you can watch via streaming. A limited number of tickets to see the shows in person are also available.
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