On a beautiful Sunday afternoon last week, a capacity crowd gathered at the Saint Pope John Paul II Polish Center of Yorba Linda. Lead by Soprano Aneta Augustyn, a small ensemble of musicians collaborated on a benefit concert in support of the Ukrainian war.
The event was filled with a mixture of repetoir consisting of music written in the classical and Verismo eras. Aneta voice was in fine form. Its flexibility moved easily through the coloratura of Mozart’s “Alleluia” even at a brisk tempo. More than one “Brava!” rang out from the audience after her rendition of Puccini’s “Vissi D’arte” from Tosca. Aneta was joined on stage by a student of hers Ms. Sophie Zatoka who sang Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro” from Gianni Schicchi. It’s clear that at the young age of thirteen, Ms. Sophie “has a very bright future ahead of her” said Chad Berlinghieri.
The instrumentalists played very well together not only in the accompaniment of the singers but also in the ensemble piece “Adagio in G minor” for strings and Organ (Mark Salters) written by Albinoni.
In the program Aneta wrote a few words of appreciation and thankfulness:
“My sincere thank you to our beautiful musicians who dedicated their time and efforts in making this concert a success and a very special one for me. I thank Chad Berlinghieri, my dear friend for his continued support and strength of his team at Cathedral Productions for helping me produce this lovely benefit concert. All the helping hands behind the scenes especially Fr. Zbigniew of the Polish Center who with his enthusiasm, encouraged me to create such an event. Finally, my sweet darling children, Nikolai and Liam and my loving, generous husband, Stuart, thank you for your selflessness. You are my rock. You are all amazing and I feel so blessed to have you in my life.
“This concert, being dedicated to Ukrainian Refugees has given me so much realization to grasp; that most importantly, the love and support that we share with each other, impacts us significantly in making us stronger, provide us with inner peace and better people all around.
“Your support from this Benefit concert will continue to fuel all efforts through Caritas Ukraine. My heart goes out to all the people of the war and their families and all those who have lost their lives.
“Thank you to all of you who have attended our concert and for your generous contributions. If we hold on together, our love will never die” said Aneta.
The final piece on the program was the Ukrainian National Anthem led by Ukrainian Violinist Myroslava Khomik. All Stood. “It was a very powerful moment” said Berlinghieri.
“As a result of the concert, we were able to send $4,000 to the Polish/Ukrainian border via Caritas/Ukraine,” said Berlinghieri.
“I can’t help but be reminded of the famous quote from Maestro Leonard Bernstein said Berlinghieri. “’This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.’ It is as relevant today as it was then in 1963.”