- March 16, 2022
Concert “Vilnius for Ukraine”
On March 4, in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, a concert by artists from the Vilnius region entitled “Vilnius for Ukraine” was held. The idea of organizing a joint charity event uniting Poles in Lithuania originated in the environment of the Polish Cultural Centre in Vilnius, where most Polish organizations in Lithuania have their headquarters. The concert featured: Black Biceps, Ewelina Saszenko, Folk Vibes, Gabrielė Zdanavičiūtė, Jan Maksymowicz, Kapela Wileńska, Katarzyna Zvonkuvienė, Małgorzata Minkel, Ojcowizna, Polish Studio Theatre, Polish Theatre in Vilnius, Sto Uśmiechów, Wilenka, and Zbigniew Sinkiewicz.
A jazzman, saxophonist, composer, and university lecturer, Jan Maksymowicz: “War is the worst thing in the world.”
Head of the Kapela Wileńska band, accordionist Romuald Piotrowski: “There is enough earth for everyone.”
Leader and vocalist of the band Black Biceps, Vitaly Valentinovich: “I help as much as an ordinary artist in Lithuania can. I am not doing anything extraordinary.”
How did you learn about the war in Ukraine?
Jan Maksymowicz: I have been following the situation and what is happening in Ukraine for a long time. This violence is a tragedy. Where there is violence that proliferates, nothing bodes well. I learned about the war from the media.
Romuald Piotrowski: I learned about the war from Polish television. On the first day of the war, it was already broadcasting the tragedy.
Witalij Walentynowicz: I was told early that morning by my girlfriend that the war in Ukraine had started.
What were your first feelings?
JM: I experienced a culture shock. My soul started aching. I could not believe it right away because I think that there must be a spark of light, a spark of goodness in every person. What happened is beyond words. It is violence. “War is the worst thing in the world.”
RP: It is horrible and sad. That unknown of what comes next. It is hard to tell in words.
WW: I could not believe it at first. I was overwhelmed with sadness.
How do you support Ukrainians? Why did you decide to participate in the charity concert “Vilnius for Ukraine”?
JM: I try to support people spiritually through prayer, so that conversion will occur. I communicate with those who have now fled to Lithuania before the war, I help find housing, collect clothes, and I support the refugees financially. I try to help to the best of my modest ability. Poor people are suffering. They all found this harsh fate. We need to help people. Performing at a charity concert is the minimum you can do. It was a modest contribution to make the aggressors stop and understand that killing is not allowed.
RP: I never once thought about not attending the concert. We have to support our friends in Ukraine at such a difficult time. This performance is no marvel on my part. It is impossible to tell what will happen next, but we will try to help in various ways, to the best of our ability. If there is any need, I will try to help.
WW: We support Ukraine as we think is best. We have social websites, and we also ask our listeners to support Ukraine. We help with creativity. “I help as much as an ordinary artist in Lithuania can. I am not doing anything extraordinary.”
How often do you read or watch the news about the war?
JM: I follow what is happening in Ukraine several times each day. I mainly watch the debates, for example, on creating a humanitarian corridor. The most important thing is to make sure this all stops as soon as possible. People are getting killed.
RP: I guess it is like everyone else today – I follow what is happening all the time.
WW: I have been trying to watch it less lately. I followed the news 24 hours a day for the first few days. However, I later realized that this was negatively impacting my health, so I cut back on the intake of information, which has been more emotional lately.
Do any of your relatives or friends live in Ukraine?
JM: I personally have no family in Ukraine. I have been there a couple of times and met with music people, but we do not keep in touch.
RP: I have no relatives in Ukraine, but there is a band in Lviv with whom we are friends. We keep in touch whenever possible.
WW: I have no family in Ukraine, but I do have friends from there. As far as I know, most of them are now in Poland, studying. Occasionally we get in touch.
How did the war change your life?
JM: I think it is the same as with everyone else. First of all, I feel tremendous sadness. All of this tragically impacts people’s lives. But I believe common sense and goodness will prevail.
RP: It did not have a direct effect as such, but it had a significant impact on my mood. One can feel this sadness. It is a great pity for the people, the children, all those who die in war. These deaths could have been avoided.
WW: The war affected my life, I think, as it did everyone else’s. Inside, I feel anxiety. Many are bracing themselves for the scariest; that it will come to us too. I try not to talk about the war in front of my girlfriend because I can see how hard it is for her. This is difficult for everyone. We try to let life go on because nothing good will come of it if we keep stressing ourselves out. I see that if one thinks about it all the time, life becomes stagnant, we are afraid to plan something, and a man without plans and ambition is not a man because he loses the meaning of life. I try to get on with my life, while, obviously, helping others as much as possible.
Author: Honorata Adamowicz, ”Kurier Wileński”
Translated by Marta Graban within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.