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PNB Orchestra and Seattle Opera host benefit concert for Ukrainian artists on May 16

Seattle's McCaw Hall in Ukrainian flag colors
© Angela Sterling
McCaw Hall
Seattle's McCaw Hall lit up in Ukrainian flag colors

The Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra and Seattle Opera collaborate to support Ukrainian artists.

The Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra and Seattle Opera are joining together to present a one-night only benefit concert for Ukrainian artists on Monday, May 16 at 7:30 p.m.

A number of benefit concerts have taken to the stage in the Seattle area and around the world since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Less than a month after the invasion, a Ukrainian jazz harpist in the United Kingdom organized "Concert for Ukraine — Make Music Not War." In April, the Seattle Symphony and local political leaders hosted a sold out benefit concertfor the Seattle Refugee Fund, supporting Ukrainian citizens and refugees in the King County region.

The upcoming "Unity: A Concert for Ukraine" at Seattle Center's McCaw Hall will specifically benefit artists and musicians fleeing Ukraine.

The PNB Orchestra will be conducted by PNB music director Emil de Cou and visiting conductor Alevtina Ioffe, who is currently making her Seattle Opera debut with "The Marriage of Figaro." Ioffe is musical director at the privately-owned Michailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.

For this event, the orchestra will be joined by Ukrainian mezzo-soprano Olga Syniakova and feature Ukrainian folk songs, the patriotic hymn "Prayer for Ukraine," as well as music by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Delibes.

Prayer for Ukraine

“As performing artists, part of our calling is to respond to events of our time,” said de Cou, in a release announcing the line-up.

“Music cannot put a stop to the horrors of war but it can give voice to divine inspiration and celebrate the love and joy of humankind. We stand with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people – the land of Tchaikovsky's paternal family – and look to the day when it will again be free of the horrors of war.”

100% of the concert proceeds will be donated to the Pegaz Cultural Association, which provides assistance to Ukrainian artists who have taken refuge in Poland. The Seattle arts organizations connected with the Pegaz Cultural Association through Opera Europa, a service organization for opera companies in Europe.

The Pegaz Cultural Association is working with the Poznań Opera House in Poland and other local organizations to host artist residencies. The program provides Ukrainian refugees with housing, food, rehearsal space, and performance opportunities.

“Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet stand united in our support for peace for the people of Ukraine, and for the displaced Ukrainian artists who have been prevented by war from earning a living and safely practicing their craft,” said Seattle Opera General Director Christina Scheppelmann.

Scheppelmann said that in providing artists' these resources, including food and shelter, they will continue to have the opportunity to create art "that enriches their communities and uplifts the human spirit.”

"Unity: A Concert for Ukraine" is a musical performance, and does not include PNB dancers.

Tickets are give-what-you-can with a minimum donation of $10. All donations over $25 are tax-deductible. Additional donations can be made here.

This event is general admission—seating is first-come, first-served. McCaw Hall requires proof of vaccination or results of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours.

Updated: May 10, 2022 at 10:49 AM PDT
Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.