BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is using the power of music to heal the Ukrainian community. Musicians held a special benefit Sunday tonight to raise money for Ukraine.

More than 800 people stood in solidarity with Ukraine as its national anthem rang through Kleinhans Music Hall.

“It’s inspirational,” said Emil Bandriwsky, president of the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center. “I’m pretty articulate, but I can’t even come up with the words for it, you know? It’s phenomenal.”

With each note, the BPO honored the lives lost in the war in Ukraine, and offered comfort to those in attendance.

“The support, the friendship, the financial support, the love and the understanding that we see from our friends, and just people that we don’t even know, is the opposite of the hatred that we’re seeing from the Russian side,” Bandriwsky said.

“This is a gift of healing,” said Ukrainian-American Dianna Derhak. “These horrible atrocities are being revealed, and today, we get to hear this amazing music, including music from Ukrainian composers. This is a gift to the people of Ukraine and it’s a gift of support.”

The benefit raised $30,000 for medicine, shelter and food for people in Ukraine.

“Full of gratitude and so much appreciation,” Derhak said.

The fundraising efforts don’t end there — more aid is on the way to Ukraine, thanks to a weekend-long fundraiser at the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Cheektowaga.

Organizers of the fundraiser, Pierogis for Peace, said they sold out of their pierogis halfway through the event.

“Many people who don’t know Ukrainians at all gave us checks for $500, $300 dollars,” said Nadia Mark, who helped organize Pierogis for Peace. “So the generosity shows that people really care and everybody hopes for the best.”

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.