Frederica von Stade — "Flicka" | Credit: Audrey Whitmeyer-Weathers

On May 9, 2022, the 77th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, Russian invaders of Ukraine will continue to impose the kind of bloodbath on their victims that decimated besieged Russian cities by Hitler’s aggression in World War II.

In San Francisco, prominent musicians will mark the day with a benefit concert for Ukraine. Concert of Compassion will be held that Monday evening at 7:30 p.m., in the historic Congregation Sherith Israel, 2266 California Street. The synagogue can accommodate an audience of over 1,000.

Organizers are quoting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy: “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals, even to those who can’t hear them. But the music will break through anyway.”

Jonathan Dimmock
Organist Jonathan Dimmock’s Resonance Project initiated Concert of Compassion | Courtesy of Jonathan Dimmock

Jonathan Dimmock, concert organist and founder of the Resonance Project which produces the event, expressed the grief and frustration widespread in the community over the most destructive war in Europe since World War II:

“As artists we feel a deep pain because of the suffering of Ukrainians. Ukraine has been the mother of countless significant artists who have informed our lives and molded my own artistry.

“We had to do something that could make a significant difference to help the refugees affected by this senseless and horrific war. One of my closest friends in San Francisco is from Kharkiv, so this felt especially poignant and urgent for us. And what better place than San Francisco, a city known for its compassion, open-mindedness, and bold leadership to act.”

Federica von Stade
Frederica von Stade in performance | Credit: San Francisco Opera

Dimmock and Lukáa Janata are producing the Resonance Project event, which will feature renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade; award-winning composer and pianist Jake Heggie; members of the Artists’ Vocal Ensemble; The Bay Brass; Orthodox Bells authority Victor Avdienko; Ukrainian soprano Alina Ilchuk; baritone Eugene Brancoveanu; bass Matt Boehler, and other artists.

Nicole Paiement will conduct musicians from the San Francisco Symphony and other local organizations, and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler will perform a new work by Mark Adamo.

“It breaks my heart every morning to read of more suffering for the Ukrainian people,” Flicka told Classical Voice. “While inspired by their courage and the incredible leadership of Zelenskyy, there is no way to not ache for the people of Ukraine.

“I also ache for my colleagues who have been sanctioned into silence. We need music more than ever, and raising one’s voice is a very powerful weapon against hatred and sorrow. I am so grateful to be asked to raise my voice in solidarity with these amazing people, and I’d give anything to have a blanket of peace fall over them.”

Proceeds from the benefit concert will support HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), World Central Kitchen, and Nova Ukraine for their extraordinary humanitarian efforts assisting refugees displaced both within Ukraine and in neighboring countries. The Concert of Compassion committee thanks all participating artists for their donated services and collaboration.

Tickets for the Concert of Compassion are now on sale, ranging from $40 to $100. Those who cannot attend the concert but wish to contribute may do so at The Resonance Project’s donation site, where 100 percent of all funds will be earmarked for the three charities.

Sherith Israel temple
The benefit concert will take place in San Francisco’s historic Sherith Israel synagogue | Courtesy Congregation Sherith Israel

Heggie told Classical Voice:

“My heart is shattered, horrified, and angered by the senseless, brutal violence against the Ukrainian people, so I am immensely grateful to join forces with my Bay Area colleagues — people of many ancestries, backgrounds, and histories — to sing out in support of Ukraine.

“We cannot stand by in silence while such atrocities are committed. The truth, unity, resonance, and powerful vibration of music can bring us together in community like nothing else. Flicka and I will be there.”

Jake Heggie
Jake Heggie | Credit: James Niebuhr

With planning still in process, organizers say the music of the evening will include works by Mark Adamo, Sam Adams, Samuel Barber, Claude Debussy, Victoria Fraser, Morten Lauridsen, Missy Mazzoli, Francis Poulenc, and Michael Tilson Thomas, alongside Ukrainian composers including Vasyl Barvinsky, Dmitri Bortniansky, Lesia Dychko, Mykola Lysenko, Maxim Shalygin, Valentin Silvestrov, Myroslav Skoryk, and Vladimir Zubitsky.

Ukrainian Consul-General to San Francisco Dmytro Kushneruk and other officials will address the meeting; Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman-Graf is expected to welcome participants on behalf of Sherith Israel.

Following the 90-minute concert, there will be a complimentary reception and exhibition showcasing 60 contemporary Ukrainian works of art, courtesy of noted Ukrainian-Russian art collector Alex Miretsky.

Dimmock spoke about the purpose of the event:

“Our hope is twofold: to raise funds so that we make a real difference to the many people who are suffering; we want them to know they are loved and cherished as human beings deserving full lives. But also, and perhaps most especially, we aim to build such a powerful resonance in every single heart that hears this program that the world literally changes. We know, through quantum physics, how this works. Now is the time to actualize it.

“We wish to express our profound appreciation and thanks to all of the artists and to Sherith Israel for participating in this concert.”

Two other Ukraine benefit concerts have been scheduled around the Bay. Conductor and cellist Thomas Shoebotham has gathered orchestra players from many Bay Area orchestras for a concert on April 30,  8 p.m., at the First Congregational Church of San Jose. All proceeds are to be donated to Nova Ukraine. On the program is music by Sibelius, Dvorak, Ukrainian composer Theodor Akimenko, and Beethoven's Eroica Symphony.

Women's vocal group Kitka has announced a lunch hour concert, "Songs for Ukraine," on May 19, 12:30, as part of the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. The concert is free, but audience members will have the chance to make donations to Nova Ukraine. Kitka, which specializes in the music of eastern and southeastern Europe, will be joining forces again with actor/vocalist/composer Mariana Sadovska, who composed the score for Kitka's musical theater work The Rusalka Cycle: Songs Between the Worlds.