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World News

Choristers sharing a gift of song to help Ukrainian children

by Donna Birrell

Truro Cathedral choir has recorded a fundraising anthem for Ukrainian children, to be released on Mothering Sunday.

The recording of Ave Maria, by Ukrainian contemporary composer Valentin Silvestrov, will be performed at the Cathedral and released as a recording on YouTube on Mothering Sunday this weekend.

The Crowdfunder is in aid of Unicef’s emergency appeal ‘Protect Children in Ukraine’ and will be available for streaming at church services.

The Cathedral’s Director of Music, Christopher Gray told Premier choristers wanted to use their talents to help children caught up in the war :

“I'd been talking to plenty of our adults in the choir as well as the boys and the girls who were having the same reactions as everyone to what's happening in Ukraine. There was a real desire to try and turn compassion into some sort of action. So we thought, ‘let's sing. We can use our gift which is singing and we can try and raise some money.’ 

By extraordinary coincidence, Ukrainian refugees Akim, 12, and his mother Tanya Huhnina, who fled Cherkasy in Ukraine to join a family in Cornwall last week, came into the Cathedral as the choir rehearsed.

The mother and son had been shopping for shoes for Akim’s first day in a Cornish school and had felt moved to step inside the cathedral.

When she realised what was happening in the cathedral, Tanya said: "God has led us here tonight."

Christopher Gray says it was a very moving moment :

“That was one of the most extraordinary things I've ever seen in terms of something very poignant and remarkable timing…….they came in and saw us with the Ukrainian colours. We were getting the choristers to position some strands of blue and yellow fabric and they came in and asked what was going on and so we explained that we were about to record a video and they stayed and were with us as we recorded our video in Ukrainian.”

The choir, with 34 children and 12 adult professional singers, received support with Ukrainian pronunciation from Marta Jenkala, Associate Professor of Ukrainian at University College, London.

Dean of Truro Very Rev Roger Bush said: “This will be a very poignant Mothering Sunday in the UK. As we celebrate with family at home, our thoughts will naturally turn to the plight of millions of Ukrainian mothers, courageously attempting to bring their children to safety, including those who are making their way to our shores.

“Whatever your faith, we hope that this beautiful Ukrainian Ave Maria offers a powerful channel for our feelings, thoughts and prayers.’  

Christopher Gray, said: “It has been a joy to discover some of Ukraine’s music recently in preparation for our Crowdfunder.

"When I came across the music of Valentin Silvestrov it had a stillness and sheer beauty that stopped me in my tracks."

Marc Gregory, who is one of the bass singers in the choir, said: “Our whole choir community is behind this initiative and we hope people in Cornwall and further afield will help us do something, however small, to support Ukrainian children caught up in this present-day horror.”

Josh, 13, Head Chorister, said: "Some of us have given our pocket money and we hope people will give lots, lots more to help us make a difference.”

The recording will be released on YouTube on Mothering Sunday this weekend and the choir will also sing the song live at the 4pm service in Truro Cathedral that day.

You can find out more about Truro Cathedral Choir’s Crowdfunder for UNICEF’s emergency appeal at Protect Children in Ukraine seeking to support the 7.5 million Ukrainian children currently at risk.


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