Jazz quartet held in Montreal raises funds for Ukraine
The Ukrainian National Federation held a fundraising concert on Sunday afternoon to support relief efforts in Ukraine, made possible with the support of Bogdan Gumenyuk, a Ukrainian jazz musician and composer who now lives in Montreal.
The saxophonist learned to play jazz music as a teenager growing up in the countryside and first came to Montreal as a doctoral student in music at McGill University.
“The last two days have probably been the worst days of my life,” he said. “I wish no one felt that way.”
He lived more than once between Montreal and Ukraine. After graduating, he returned to the country to pursue his music career and manage his music label. He returned to Montreal in 2019 and said he now felt it was his responsibility to give back.
“You feel people want better and you feel people are ready to fight for it,” he said. “Not just talking about it, but really fighting for it. That’s what the whole world can see right now.”
The jazz quartet took place at Federation Hall on Fairmount Avenue in the Mile-End, and featured Gumenyuk alongside three other Canadian musicians. A few dozen people showed up to watch the show and make a donation.
The quartet was mainly inspired by the 2014 Ukrainian revolution and traditional folk songs, Gumenyuk said. What followed was an open discussion about Ukrainian culture and music.
The federation is currently working with Ukrainian government ministries to ensure that funds raised go to those who need it most.
“Eleven days ago they were at school, at work, in restaurants and at the theater,” said Kathy Smolynec, president of the Ukrainian National Federation of Montreal.
“Imagine what it’s like to suddenly lose your home, your clothes, everything you’ve ever known, to have your life turned upside down.”
Lindsay Reoch attended the quartet with her children and said she wanted them to know how important it is to contribute in any way possible when people need help in times of war.
“It affects all of us, and I try to instill those values in the kids, even if they’re young, to know that they’re participating and not sitting around.”