The Maine Balkan Choir sings at a benefit concert at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Portland in May to raise funds for the international humanitarian nonprofit organization Save the Children. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald file photo

The music of Ukraine will be presented in a benefit concert in celebration of Ukraine Independence Day at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 27, at The Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston. Titled “Flowers & Songs from a Ukraine Garden,” the event will feature the Maine Balkan Choir and the Huddled Masses Orchestra, joined by several soloists drawn from Maine’s Ukrainian community.

The Maine Balkan Choir is a diverse group of singers ranging in age from 15 to 90 who come together from as far away as Saco and Bar Harbor. The choir’s director, Anne Tatgenhorst, says “We are so happy to welcome to our group a mother-daughter duet who recently arrived from Ukraine. Sofiya Kreshneva, age 14, is an amazingly gifted singer and pianist who recently graduated from the Latvian Academy of music. She and her mother Yuliya will perform the beautiful Ukrainian folk song ‘In the Cherry Orchard,’ which – appropriately – is a touching dialogue between a mother and daughter. Among the many selections presented by the full choir will be the beloved Ukrainian song ‘Hey Sokoly’ and a rousing medley of songs of celebration, ‘Mnohaya Lita’.”

Accompanying the choral group will be the Huddled Masses, a Midcoast-based brass band featuring a half-dozen or more instruments, including trumpets, trombone, tuba, fiddle, clarinet and accordion. According to Tatgenhorst, it was the band’s founder, Joe Niemczura, who hatched the idea to do a fundraiser concert to help people of Ukraine, and who then recruited “masses” of musical talent from up and down the Maine coast to create this powerful event. According to NNiemczura, the concert was planned as a gathering to mark hopefulness and gratitude, “Hopefulness that the present war will be resolved, and gratitude that The Lady With The Lamp has given the Ukrainians and so many other refugees a safe harbor.” By the “Lady With The Lamp” he is referring to the Statue of Liberty, whose plaque contains the famous quote welcoming immigrants to America:“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” – words which inspired the name of Niemczura’s band.

Sunday’s concert is a charity event designed to benefit multiple agencies involved in refugee resettlement in Maine, and the organizers hope that “New Mainers” from countries across the globe will join the audience. There is no set admission fee, and donations of any amount will be gratefully accepted at the door, with no one turned away for lack of funds.

The Sts. Peter and Paul Basilica is located at 122 Ash St., Lewiston. For more information, contact Niemczura at (808) 352-1714 or or by going online to the Facebook pages of either the Maine Balkan Choir or the Huddled Masses Orchestra.

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