By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On Saturday night, the Zullo Gallery hosted two jazz concerts to raise money for Razom for Ukraine, a nonprofit raising money for medical supplies to restock Ukrainian hospitals. With shows at both six and eight PM packed to their sixty seat capacity, the event was organized by Medfield’s own Anton Derevyanko, who managed to put together an impressive array of musical talent with personal connections to Ukraine in a very short period of time.
With many patrons buying drinks in the Zullo Gallery’s hall, whose walls had been lined with Ukrainian paintings like Edward Kozak’s “Hutzul”, Jacques Hnizdovsky’s 1976 woodcut “Young Pine” and Volodymyr Patyk’s oil paintings — all of which had been donated by Ihor and Vya Mykyta — the band took its place on stage in front of a large Ukrainian flag. Featuring Derevyanko on the saxophone, Ilya Blazk on the drums, Ely Perlman on guitar, Alexei Tsiganov on piano, Matt Stavrakas on bass and Arina Bagaryakova singing, the band mixed jazz standards with some of Bagaryakova’s original music.
But while the music was incredibly impressive, the cause was never far from anyone’s mind. Anton Derevyanko explained that he and other musicians have been looking to figure out how they could raise funds from the beginning of the invasion, which culminated in the show.
“Ever since February 24th, ever since Russia started its invasion of Ukraine, all my friends in the musician community have been looking for ways to support Ukraine and for ways to raise money and support for the things that are happening, and to support the people who are fighting so hard to protect their own country and their freedom,” Derevyanko explained. “I was fortunate enough to have an incredible band that came together within a week and a half.”
Derevyanko was able to create the event on short notice, motivated in large part due to his personal connection to the war. He explained that he was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, but that his father is from Lviv, which Derevyanko himself most recently visited three years ago (unfortunately, Lviv found itself all over American newspaper headlines after being targeted with Russian cruise missiles the same weekend). But, reflecting the closeness of the two countries, Derevyanko explained that while many in the band are Russian, nearly everyone in the band has relatives in Ukraine.
“Pretty much the entire band has deep ties to people in Ukraine, because all over Russia and all over Ukraine, people have relatives and distant relatives, since the two countries historically have been very intertwined. What’s happening right now is obviously a nightmarish tragedy and we hope it will end as soon as humanly possible. But in the meantime, we’re going to do everything we can to support the people of Ukraine, and I personally am going to do everything in my power, every single day, to do what I can from here, and to try to inspire others to do the same.”
Since he’s a musician first taught by his grandmother (who is both from Lviv and was on hand to watch the concert), clad in a traditional Ukrainian vyshyvanka he was given by a family member while in Ukraine, Derevyanko opted to use his music to try and help the Ukrainian people. But while Derevyanko and his band are using music, he very much wanted people to look at their own talents and abilities to see what they could do to help the people of Ukraine.
“Razom’s an incredible organization I know through a lot of my own Ukrainian friends who have been supporting them and working with them. They’re a longstanding organization that’s been around for eight or nine years dedicated to supporting Ukraine, but right now, they’ve mobilized their entire organization to really direct all the money to this cause right now. Please support in whatever way you possibly can and be creative about it, because we have to be. Every single person in this world has a way of supporting this cause that’s unique to them in some way that’s personal to them. I urge everybody to find out what that is.”
For further information, visit razomforukraine.org.