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benefit concert


In many places in Ukraine, nothing has been the same for more than a month. In some cases, current images can be seen in which columns of cars roll through cities between bombed-out buildings in an almost surreal everyday life shaped by the war. Never before has a warlike event received such widespread media coverage as the current conflict in Ukraine. Many acts of war can be followed practically live via private mobile phone recordings. Classifying and putting away these disturbing images is often difficult and overwhelming. The misery of the people who have been abruptly torn from their civilian everyday life seems unbearable and makes us helpless.

During the carnival holidays, the request was made to our school choir to organize a larger benefit concert for the Ukraine. As luck would have it, a rehearsal day with the Gymchor Liestal for the performance of the Verdi Requiem, which was to take place last Monday, had been planned a long time ago. Adding a concert together after this rehearsal was manageable, at least in terms of organization, and we were able to convince the Catholic Church in Muttenz to make their room available to us for the concert that evening.

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical before the concert. We hadn't been able to invest much rehearsal time since our Christmas concert and were anything but in concert form with our new program. In addition, we had never rehearsed the Verdi Requiem with Liestal before. Under these conditions, was it really the right time to jump on the hype of countless collection campaigns? Weren't there already countless crisis areas that should have been helped with such an event under better conditions?

The reactions in my environment to my doubts were quite different. A colleague said: «You know, you really can't do too little. Everything that helps to take a stand in this difficult situation should be done.” This statement made sense to me and I told my colleagues in the choir directors that I would also be available if necessary and that I would postpone the rehearsal of my adult choir if necessary.

At short notice we rehearsed the choral piece “Tebje pajom” by Dimitri Bortjanski, which is well-known throughout Europe, with the chamber choir. He is considered one of the most important composers of Eastern sacred vocal music. His work was later processed by Pjotr ​​Tchaikovsky in his own collection. Born and raised in Ukraine, Bortyansky was later buried in Petersburg. A media report today shows how difficult the Russian-Ukrainian relations are in some cases. The Ukrainian ambassador has canceled participation in a benefit concert by the Berlin Philharmonic at short notice. The program is geared towards Russian with representatives such as Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. At the moment I'm trying to find out whether Bortyansky originally wrote his «Tebje pojem» (or pajom?) in Ukrainian or Russian; so far without success. Since Bortyansky was born in the Ukraine and buried in Petersburg, both are conceivable and therefore justifiable. The discussion reflects reality: Ukrainian and Russian have been spoken in Ukraine for centuries.

I have seldom given a concert for which there was so little preparation time as for this benefit concert. The "Dies Irae" from Verdi's Requiem was rehearsed with the whole ensemble for the first time in the afternoon for just under twenty minutes. Everyone knew that this piece would then be performed in front of an audience in the evening. Absolutely insane when I think how much rehearsal time would normally have to be invested by amateurs for a piece like this.

Due to the lack of time, no preliminary rehearsal in the church was possible and I felt a slight headache before the event. At 7:00 p.m., everyone stood up and, as best they could, performed a one-hour concert program together. Not everything was perfect, but it was still an intense, positive experience for everyone. I will particularly remember the personal and touching words of a Ukrainian refugee woman. In a way it made the incomprehensible a little more comprehensible and yes, we can and must do something. Anything that pulls us away from media watching and forces us to take a stand should or must be done. This creates effectiveness and a sense of responsibility. Thank you to everyone who has generously donated. We are responsible; not only towards Ukraine.

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