Sophia Pavlenko-Chandley is a gifted composer, traveling the country, performing duo piano recitals with her husband, Paul.
“We are touring all over the United States with our two pianos,” said Chandley.
They met twenty years ago when Chandley came to the United States on a musical tour.
“I came here for love, but my heart is still with Ukraine,” said Chandley.
Chandley’s been in America on a green card ever since, making her a permanent resident. Since the start of the war, Chandley says she worries constantly about her mother, stepfather, sister, and nieces, who are still living in Ukraine.
“It’s Russian roulette—they don’t know whether they are going to survive the next day,” said Chandley.
Chandley says she fears not only for her family’s safety, but for her friends with the Kyiv Orchestra.
“They were scheduled to have concerts and tours—they had studios full of students. I mean, they are world-class musicians and now they are forced to put all of this on hold,” said Chandley.
Proof that music can unite, a now viral video shows 7-year-old Amelia from Ukraine, singing “Let It Go” in an underground bomb shelter. Since then, Amelia has also been invited to sing the Ukrainian National Anthem for a relief concert in Poland.
Chandley works with opera companies across the U.S. and is raising money through concert and collaborations.
“We can first start performing Ukrainian music, we can get together and do fundraising concerts. I have a symphony of music, I can donate my services as a pianist, as a composer,” said Chandley.
And while music is her passion, Chandley says it’s also a unique way to directly help her loved ones and the people of Ukraine who are suffering.
“I’m working really hard right now to put together some funds. And when this horrible war ends, I will work tirelessly to rebuild [my country],” said Chandley.
Chandley says all the money raised from benefit concerts will go to Ukraine relief.
She’s also urging people to support Ukrainian artists by buying their music, something so simple can be a great motivator.