Isaac Meadow, of the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, will present a humanitarian aid benefit concert for Ukraine on Thursday, June 15, at Zion Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor, at 6:00 p.m. The concert will feature music by multiple composers, played upon the piano and the organ in the church’s main sanctuary. Admission will be by free-will donation.
The concert will be performed as a “mitzvah project” ― a community service associated with Isaac’s Bar Mitzvah. Isaac was inspired to take on this particular effort by the confluence of compassion, love of music, and familial ties to Ukraine.
At the age of five, when Isaac first received money as a present, he wanted to give it away to a beggar he met in the streets. In the following years, he has remained empathetic to people in distress, particularly the homeless. When Isaac started following the news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he knew he wanted to act. “I was horrified,” he said, “particularly by the violence against children ― children being killed, or forced from their homes.” A benefit concert, he thought, might be a way for him to raise money to help.
Isaac has a long-standing love of music. He has studied the piano since the age of five under the tutelage of Renée Robbins, and recently has started to study the organ with Carol Muehlig. He is looking forward to an intensive organ study at Interlochen fine arts camp later this summer. He has played piano for the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation’s High Holidays services, and looks forward to serving the congregation musically again in the future. The concert will feature pieces that Isaac has learned especially for the occasion, as well as several pieces that he has been playing for longer. The concert will also include a brief demonstration of the types of sounds and musical techniques achievable on the piano and organ.
Isaac’s family has a current connection to Ukraine because Isaac’s grandmother befriended Vladimir Sayenko, now a Ukrainian lawyer, when he was studying at the University of Michigan in 1993 and 1994. Sayenko later hosted Isaac’s grandmother, and mother on a visit to Goroshina (alternatively, Horoshyne), the Ukrainian village Isaac’s great-great-grandfather fled in the early 1900s to come to the United States.
All proceeds will go to “Breathe” (Ukrainian: “Dyhai”), a charity originally founded in 2020 to provide equipment for hospitals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since Sayenko is an associate of one of Breathe’s founders, Isaac looks forward to keeping a close conversation going about the charity, and to seeing the good that the benefit concert proceeds will be able to accomplish. Thus far, Breathe has provided supplies to Ukrainian hospitals, winter clothing for the elderly, and electronic chargers and other equipment to families, for lighting, communication and for continuing children’s education in the wake of wartime disruptions. Isaac said, “It’s really good to be able to help people – even from so far away!”