This event was a moving fundraiser in support of Ukrainian relief efforts. We were honored to be selected by organizers to live stream this musical event in support of the Ukrainian people titled, An Extraordinary Concert: Solidarity for Democracy and Freedom-Solidarity For Ukraine.
The event was hosted by Hon. Cosmin Dumitrescu, Consul General of Romania in Los Angeles, with the support of Hon. Robert Wunderlich, Mayor of Beverly Hills, and emceed by Aura Imbarus.
The goal of this incredible event was to aid in providing humanitarian relief for refugees in Romania. It’s not a matter just for Ukraine or even just for Europe, but for the world and the UN.
Of the million fleeing refugees, over 200,000 have found shelter in Romania since the beginning of the war, and over 60,000 Romanian families have opened their homes and their hearts.
The support must continue until the war is choked out and well beyond. Musicians and artists performed to show their support of this event and to generate financial benefits for The Romanian Red Cross, Habitat For Humanity, and Save The Children.
“We must always take sides. Neutrality supports the oppressor, never the oppressed.” – Elie Wiesel, Holocaust Survivor.
Host Aura Imbarus reiterates that Romania wholeheartedly rejects Russia’s irresponsible behavior and calls for a cease of military aggression and an immediate withdrawal of all military forces from Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.
The Romanian people wish to promote international rules and universal values by finding ways to alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people. This event is one of those relief channels.
Mayor of Beverly Hills, the Hon. Robert Wunderlich spoke of his support for the Ukrainian people and their fight to protect their land, their culture, their democracy, and their freedom. He described the war raging across the ocean as nothing that’s been seen since WWII and “era-defining and horrific.”
The Beverly Hills City Hall has been showing signs of support by lighting up its building with the colors of Ukraine. They have also been flying the blue and yellow flag of the Eastern European country in highly visible places, so those of us far away continue to be reminded and to actively support the cause.
The Consul General
Hon. Cosmin Dumitrescu, Consul General of Romania in Los Angeles, believes the Ukrainian people are simply striving to preserve what we enjoy here.
Without freedom, there is only pain. The people there are fighting, the men, the families, and the children are running. They’re fleeing across every border they can, including in the Consul General’s home country of Romania, Poland, Hungary, and Moldova, to save their own lives, to find freedom.
“This freedom is what unites us. Humanity is the definition of the culture of freedom. Aggression, war, and crime have nothing to do with free civilization, and nothing to do with our basic values that are the core engine of our nations.”
Women’s gymnastics first perfect ten score earner, Nadia Comaneci of Romania, also shared her support for this event via a virtual message.
“Sport is a beautiful attribute of civilization for non-violence and peace between people. Almost half a million refugees have already crossed Romanian borders from the beginning of the war in Ukraine.
We all gather here tonight to express our solidarity with the Ukrainian people and to support three of the biggest NGOs active in assisting refugees: The Romanian Red Cross, Habitat For Humanity, and Save The Children.
“I strongly encourage you to join me to express your solidarity and to support The ones that are now working on the ground to help the people in need coming from Ukraine.”
Antonio Del Prete is an Italian painter and sculptor whose work has been exhibited internationally. His art has been included in a special viewing at the Vatican by Pope Francis and was featured in the Italian Bible of Contemporary Art Atlanta Contemporanea as one of the 800 Italian artists that have influenced contemporary art between 1950 and 2020.
At this Extraordinary Concert event, he donated a stunning piece of art “RESIST” – Mixed Media – Acrylic and Water-miscible oil Paint and Swarovski on Canvas to the cause-at-hand to specifically benefit the younger generation of children who have been mercilessly uprooted from their motherland. It is best described in his own words:
“The girl that I represent in my painting, she wears a Ukrainian flag. The mask we all know represents the idea of resilience, not as a word but as a state of mind: RESIST.
The box she holds in her hand is the box of dreams that any child is entitled to. Liberating butterflies symbolizes change, hope, and life. Butterflies fly to a crown of flowers representing beauty and love…
May love fulfill and conquer all our hearts because, without love, nothing is possible.”
Here the event shared moving footage of actively fleeing refugees, mostly on foot, trying to find a safe space — children walking in the snow. Families huddled under tents. Emergency services give aid wherever possible.
Buses loading people up by the dozens to ship them farther from the front lines. Homes full of Ukrainian strangers being embraced by the love of Romanians. Tears, fear, grief, and love are the core of this footage.
The Musical Stylings of the Globally Renowned Fatu Family
Not only did Sophie Fatu, the young and gifted jazz singer, open the event with an endearing version of the U.S. national anthem, but she reappeared in the event later with her mother Victoria Fatu in a vocal and piano duet.
Sophie may be a familiar name as the talented tot has made appearances on hit shows such as Little Big Shots with Steve Harvey and The Ellen Degeneres Show, and America’s Got Talent.
She’s held roles on TV shows like Will and Grace, Goliath, The Kids Are Alright, and has even starred on the big screen with Mel Gibson and Charlie Hunnam in the 2021 release, Last Looks.
Sophie’s mother, the internationally recognized and decorated pianist Victoria Fatu began studying music at the tender age of eight. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Moscow State Conservatory in Russia.
Victoria has claimed victories in numerous international competitions and received multiple grants from major music foundations. She has also made many global appearances and performed with prestigious symphonies as well as a recent role as a soloist at Carnegie Hall.
Together, the pair gave a lovely jazz version of “Yesterday” by the Beatles. As you would expect, talent runs in the family. Sophie’s Father, Cristian Fatu made an appearance later in several duets. As well as Victoria’s prolific solo rendition of “Sonata Quasi Fantasia” by Beethoven.
The Strong Ukrainian Voice
Anxious to represent his country and contribute to the success of this event, Ukrainian-born Ivan Krasovsky made a special in-person appearance. Ivan is a baritone-tenor and soloist of the Academic Song and Dance Ensemble of The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine who took the win at nearly every vocal competition he entered for many years.
The vocalist belted skilled and emotive renditions of the national anthem of Ukraine, “My Dear Mother,” and “Red Ruta.” He shared that the current tragedy hit especially close to home as his mother still resides in Ukraine, near the Romanian border.
“It’s a very safe place now Chernivtsi, at this time, but I am not sure that this place will be safe tomorrow…Thank you from each of us for your support.”
The Strings and Keys Duets
Evgeny Tonkha and Cristian Fatu took center stage to offer their strings in support of this fundraising event. I have worked with Cristian in the past, where we created an in-depth musician spotlight piece to showcase his global, masterful work over the last several decades. You can view that piece here.
Cristian is an award-winning violinist, a member of the New West Symphony, and has performed at Carnegie Hall. He holds a bachelor’s degree from The National Music University of Bucharest and a Master’s and Artist’s diploma from Park University, Missouri and is a top prize winner at more than 25 national and international violin competitions in his native Romania and abroad.
Evgeny graduated from the Russian Academy of Music and did his postgraduate studies at The Hans Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin. Among his many accolades and achievements, he has been collaborating with The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for over fifteen years and was the first prize and the gold medal winner at the 12th International Cello Competition in the Czech Republic. In collaboration with Nathan Franco, he founded a new K-17 concert series in Los Angeles and teaches at MiMoDa Studio.
Cristian opened their segment with a peek into the heart behind the musicians with this event.
“We are musicians from all different countries. I’m from Romania, Evgeny and Victoria are from Russia. Then we have Dan, who’s originally from China, and Elisabetta from Italy.
And then we have Sophie, who was born here; she’s an American. So what we want to show here is that the people are good. People want to work together.”
From China to UCLA in Support of Ukraine
Dan Yu was originally born in China and emigrated with his parents in the late 90s. He studied Piano Performance at UCLA where he earned his Bachelor’s degree and claimed many other piano honors and competitions.
He was also accompanied by Cristian on the violin and performed :Balada” by C. Porumbescu, “Melodya” by Myroslav Skoryk, and “Allegro Assai from Drei Klavierstücke D946” by Franz Schubert.
The Ukrainian Violinist
Yakov Konvitser is a Ukrainian violin performer who had numerous concerts and was involved in the 2017 is a multicultural project entitled Everyone is a Friend in Odessa. Accompanied by audio, Yakov gave lively violin performances of “Romanian Potpourri” and “Tango” by Piazzolla.
The prestigious international art dealer, Leon Weinstein, has been in the art world for over 20 years supporting and advancing visual arts. His Beverly Hills-based organization, Weinstein Art Management, organizes art exhibitions, cultural events, and promotes various forms of art and artists.
He took the podium to introduce three Ukrainian artists who were anxious to do their part in relief efforts.
The internationally renowned romantic impressionist artist’s original work is usually listed in galleries for $20,000 to $50,000. For this fundraiser, he graciously donated a giclée (an inkjet-printed copy that is signed and numbered by the artist’s hand) of a beautiful woman in a black and red evening gown. These giclées usually sell in the range of $2,000.
Dmitri Danish’s work in painted cityscapes is recognized the world over. He was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and most of his family and many of his friends still reside in his home country. He donated a delightful cityscape giclée that usually sells for around $1,500, while the original paintings are priced between $15,000 to $20,000.
Michael and Inessa Garmash
These two are a rare artist couple and are originally from Luhansk, Ukraine. Inessa was born in Lipetsk, Russia. Together, they specialize in romantic impressionistic paintings of young ladies in both surreal and ordinary settings. The giclée they donated is of a young woman in white looking down.
Italian-born Elisabetta Russo, the widely acclaimed operatic performer and vocalist, was accompanied by Victoria Fatu on the piano for her masterful renditions of “Lascia ch’io pianga” by G.F. Handel, and “Non ti scordar di me” by E. Curtis.
She is globally recognized for her roles in both Don Pasquale Cosi Fan Tutte Rigoletto and Falstaff and musical theater performances of The Phantom of the Opera. Elisabetta has also collaborated with Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, and notable other film composers and Oscar winners, as well as appearances at New York Fashion Week, Staples Center, and Caesar’s Palace.
The Little Romanian Picasso
Alexandra Nechita is a Romanian-American line-drawing artist who has been hailed as a true artistic force. Her captivating talent has been recognized by art critics around the world, inspiring the media to give her the pet name of “Petit Picasso.”
She shared that her husband grew up in Ukraine until he was ten years old. Their family is deeply connected to the Ukrainian people and share in their current grief.
Alexandra is a master of line and color and the strokes of her brush paint with their own visual language. She created a line drawing specifically for this event which was auctioned live for charity and collected $15,000.
Council member (Former Mayor of Beverly Hills) John A. Mirisch shared the Beverly Hills Council’s official resolution that was passed shortly after the Russian attack on Ukrainian soil. They condemned the Russian government’s actions and in a show of support, made Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy an honorary citizen of their fine city.
The Eyebrow Queen
Anastasia Soare is the founder and CEO of Anastasia Beverly Hills and is commonly known as the “Eyebrow Queen.” She came to the United States as apolitical refugee from Romania over thirty years ago. The plight of the Ukrainian people struck a deep chord for the cosmetics multi-millionaire and she participated in in this event to encourage generous donations and additional support for the Ukrainian refugees.
The Jewish Siren
Svetlana Portnyansky is one of the most extraordinary performers of the international jewish scene and she’s often compared in the press to the likes of Barbara Streisand. She’s also performed with internationally acclaimed stars such as Steve Allen, Lionel Hampton, Maximilian Shell, Debbie Friedman, Bruce Adler, and many other accomplished musicians.
With her voice, Svetlana is forging a bond between all global Jewish communities and shows her support for the Ukrainian people by singing a traditional folk song, “Dark Eyes and Brown Eyebrows.” She also graced viewers with “Wild Hackberry,” “Ukraine,” and “Rumania, Rumania!”
This event was intended to be a channel to aid in the relief of Ukrainian refugees flooding into Romania by supporting their own local charities, The Romanian Red Cross, Habitat For Humanity, and Save the Children Romania. You can learn more about those relief efforts here.
As a filmmaker, I was touched to be part of such a well-attended and highly supportive evening. The many cultures, artists, and dignitaries that came together created a bond and showed the Ukrainian people they are not alone. Solidarity for Democracy and Freedom-Solidarity For Ukraine.
Photos: Richard Liukis
Video: COLDEA Productions, LLC