BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra teamed up Thursday with the Creative Alliance to hold a benefit to support Ukraine, raising thousands.  

Customers were allowed to pay-as-you-wish for the tickets. Proceeds went to the International Rescue Committee “to help get people out of the Ukraine and settled safely,” said Joel Michael-Schwartz, a mandolinist who performed and helped organize the benefit.  

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The fundraiser brought Baltimoreans of Ukrainian descent, like Paula Burger, who was wearing her mother’s Ukrainian dance costume for the event.  

Jay Bonstingl said he has friends in Ukraine, and he’s scared to death for their lives. Vera Smolyaninova moved from Ukraine to Maryland in 1995. Before she attended Thursday’s concert, she spoke to her sister and mother in Ukraine. 

“Half of the time they spend in shelters because of the air raid sirens,” she said.  

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But even without a personal connection, the war in Ukraine is disturbing to everyone. Carol, breaking down in tears, said “it just breaks my heart to see those children and to see them bombing schools, how can they do that?”  

The concert paid homage to Ukrainian culture. BSO’s conductor, Jonathon Heyward, read the Ukrainian National Anthem before his orchestra played it. 

“Ukraine’s glory has not yet died, nor her freedom,” he read.  

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The BSO said roughly 1,100 people attended Thursday’s benefit and according to their early ticket pre-sales, they have generated upwards of $40,000 for the International Rescue Committee. 

Annie Rose Ramos