Over 30 young musicians aged between four and 17 performed a special concert in aid of Ukrainian relief efforts.

The event, which took place before an audience of more than 100 people in St Helen’s Church,  Wheathampstead, on Sunday, was the brainchild of Claire Partington who runs C# Music Tuition in the village. 

Rev Richard Banham, who introduced the concert, observed the difference between the situations here in the UK and the wartorn east European nation: "Here, where we can enjoy the peace and serenity of our beautiful 13th century church, contrasting the devastation that we see every day on the news in so many towns and cities in Ukraine."

The audience included Ukrainians who have only just arrived, together with their Wheathampstead host families, who met with VIP guest concertmaster, Oksana Germanchuk, who has only recently arrived in the UK herself and who worked at The Tchaikovsky National Music Academy in Kyiv.

Opening the concert, two of the younger musicians, five-year-old Ralph Denney and eight-year-old Christian Girotto, invited the audience to stand for their piano duet of the Ukrainian national anthem, which they had memorised in just a few weeks, before a programme of piano and string pieces was performed.

Claire Partington said: "At a time when, in some quarters, young people get bad press for being consumed by their electronic devices and being detached from the real world, it was so pleasing to see them donating their time and talents to this good cause. It takes many hours to reach the standard of playing required for their first public performance."

One of the performers, Elaine, 12, said: “I think I am doing this fund-raising concert for Ukrainians because I have this friend at school, she’s Ukrainian. She has relatives back in Ukraine, I think it must be really stressful to be worrying about them every day and to hope that they are OK. So I just want to show my support.”

Special guest Cllr Annie Brewster, Vice-Chairman of Hertfordshire County Council, congratulated the young musicians for their commitment to their music and the pleasure they gave everyone in producing such accomplished performances for such an important cause. 

“I will never forget this concert. I have rarely been so moved as to hear Oksana Germanchuk play the mesmerising piano version of ‘Melody’ by Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk.  To think Oksana has a husband and 27-year-old son still in Ukraine is simply heart-breaking.

"Oksana told me she was overwhelmed by the support she felt from the UK and, no more so, than to hear Ralph and Christian play the Ukrainian national anthem.  I believe the newly arrived Ukrainian families who joined us felt some comfort from what they heard too.”  

Annie added: “Enormous congratulations to Claire, her colleague Juan Drown for the strings section, St Helen’s and the wider team for creating such a truly wonderful event and huge thanks to everyone who is contributing via the Just Giving fundraising page to the Ukrainian Humanitarian Appeal - Disasters Emergency Committee.”

The fundraising total has already smashed £3,000 thanks to the generosity of local people. If you would like to add your support visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/concertforukrainians