Ukrainian pianist and CPP professor helps fundraise for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine

By Matisse Sanchez, Mar. 22, 2022

At a March 8 benefit, Grammy award winner and professor in the Department of Music at Cal Poly Pomona, Nadia Shpachenko helped raise awareness for the war ravaging the people in Ukraine.

With over 200 people that participated in the live event and through Zoom, donors came from around the country, with some tuning in all the way from Canada and Ukraine.

Over $45K was raised during the fundraising concert, with the intention of donating 100% to the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee, Inc.

The event was hosted by Chamber Music Orange County, which included talented performers raising awareness for the war and people impacted by the brutality. With so much turmoil happening in Ukraine, this has moved countless people to support and stand up for the heartbreak happening overseas.

“This war is horrifying, shocking and an absolute humanitarian catastrophe,” Shpachenko said. “Words cannot describe the pain and anger that I feel now.”

Photo Courtesy of John Pak

Shpachenko worked directly with Executive Director of Chamber Music OC Iryna Krechkovsky Loucks to bring music to their community while helping raise money for another. She performed live with Polish cellist and professor, Marek Szpakiewicz from Azusa Pacific University.

Both performed the third movement of Chopin’s “Cello and Piano Sonata,” while Shpachenko performed “Sonata No. 6 for Solo Piano” by Ukrainian composer Yuri Ischenko. She explained how Ischenko was a compelling composer and close friend who wrote the piece and has played the piece since 2008.

The piece, “Sonata No. 6 for Solo Piano” by Ukrainian composer Yuri Ishchenko that she decided to play that night was a difficult piece with a lot of turmoil, according to Shpachenko. The sadness and violence that this portrayed was an effective way of showing through music the violence and desperation going on in Ukraine now.

“The second and third movement were very tumultuous and violent,” Shpachenko said. “It was very difficult to play for a piano.”

However, with such sadness and distress going on there is still hope within each note, and Shpachenko described it as being the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Music helps people live,” she said. “It exists in a way that’s fulfilling, so me helping people find their love for music, brings me great satisfaction and joy in life.”

Shpachenko was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine and found her love for music early on. With her mother being a piano teacher, Shpachenko grew up with music around her and that influenced her to learn more. Apart from learning just the piano, she played the cello and the flute and sung at just 5 years old.

Specializing in contemporary music, Shpachenko has been at CPP for about 16 years performing and working with her students. Incorporating music into her life was a way of coping with the world’s anxieties and worries.

“Playing piano lets me use my imagination,” Shpachenko said. “It just lets me go to places that bring me joy.”

As the war in Ukraine rages on, people are showing their support in any way they can. Performing at this concert allowed Shpachenko to show her support for the people in Ukraine and help the people who were affected by the war.

“I want the killing and the destruction to stop immediately as I stand in solidarity with my home country Ukraine and the courageous Ukrainian people,” Shpachenko said.

To see how the campus community can donate and help the UUARC, visit their website.


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