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Ukrainian and Russian piano duo host fundraising concert for refugees

About $2,000 will be sent to help Ukrainian refugees overseas thanks to the Manitowoc community.
Published: May. 15, 2022 at 7:26 PM CDT
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MANITOWOC, Wis. (WBAY) - About $2,000 will be sent to help Ukrainian refugees overseas thanks to the Manitowoc community and a benefit piano concert Sunday, May 15, at the Franciscan Music Center.

“I think piano was always important because it allows you to communicate with a variety of audiences without even opening your mouth, and there is no barrier such as language or distance,” Diana Shapiro, professor of piano at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Pianist Shapiro moved from Moscow to Israel when she was 18-years-old. While studying there in the late 90s, she met her piano duo partner Stanislava Varshavski. Varshavski immigrated from Ukraine in 1995. Shoulder-to-shoulder the pair headed to the United States in 2005. First to Boston, and then eventually to Wisconsin where Varshavski is now the director of music education at Holy Family Conservatory of Music in Manitowoc. Varshavski said she cut ties with Ukraine when she left, but the war has changed her tune.

“But when the war starts, when suffering, bombing, shelling, rockets start, there are no opinions anymore,” Varshavski emphasized. “It’s just pain. Pain and deaths.”

The dynamic piano duo has been playing together since 1996. They’ve never done a Ukrainian benefit concert before, and they never thought they’d have to.

“So when it happened, when I learned over the news that February 24 happened, and the real war started, I was shocked because it’s something that I thought would never happen during my lifetime,” Shapiro shared. “Especially given the lessons of the second world war, the last big war in Europe.”

To donate to the benefit concert and help Ukrainian refugees, click here.

The dynamic piano duo have been playing together since 1996.

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