A A resident of Odessa, Ukraine, violinist Irina Voloshina has watched Russia destroy her country.
He will perform the Freedom Philharmonic’s first concert, “Freedom for All!” at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Saturday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m. The ceremony will honor Ukraine and its fight against Russian aggression. More than 70 musicians will be led by Music Director and Principal Conductor Maestro Clyde Mitchell.
The centerpiece of the second half is Ukrainian music and prayer, featuring concert master Voloshyna. It was joined by Verdi’s Overture to “Nabucco” conducted by Ruth Orellana-Wheeler and “Va, pensiero” from “Nabucco” conducted by Orellana-Wheeler and the SoCAL Chorale, directed by Maria Basarba.
The first half will begin with Strauss’ “Sunrise” (the theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey”), followed by Orff’s “O, Fortuna” from “Carmina Burana,” Skoric’s “Melody” with associate conductor Ruth Orellana-Wheeler, Foster’s mezzo- “The Prayer” with soprano Anna Flieger and lyricist Barry Johansson and Schoenberg’s “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables” with Johansson.
“Freedom for All” continues with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Masquerade,” “Phantom of the Opera,” Dvořák’s “Song to the Moon,” “Rusalka” with soprano Erin Wood, Verdi’s “Anvil Chorus” and “Stride la Vampa.” . Il Trovatore” Filiger, Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette,” Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” from “Turandot” featuring tenor Timothy Gonzales, and “Te Deum” from “Tosca” with baritone Ben Lowe.
Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from the 9th Symphony closes the concert.
Longtime friends, performer Barry Johansson and Stavatti Aerospace CEO Chris Besker, founded the nonprofit Freedom Orchestra to share their love of music. Their dream includes starting a youth orchestra.
Voloshina has lived in Altadena for 12 years and made news when she and her Melodia Mariposa performed in her driveway during the COVID-19 quarantine. On July 24, 2021, he received the Congressional Leadership Award: Hometown Heroes of the Pandemic for outstanding contributions to the people of the 27th Congressional District.
The Freedom Philharmonic is just as special.
“I’m excited because every time something is created, it’s exciting,” Voloshina said. “The epidemic has been going on for a long time. All our concerts were cancelled, and we were devastated. We didn’t work at all. It was a pretty crazy time, and that’s when I decided to perform in my driveway. I did 65 concerts. We miss our act very much. Then I heard about this orchestra. I think it’s beautiful.”
For other shows, he plays fundraising concerts for Ukraine, helping in the only way he can.
“I used to play with the Odessa Philharmonic,” he says. “When the war started, I thought, ‘How can I help?’ You look so helpless. You want to help but how do you help?
“My friends are fine. At one point, they were in a really bad situation and needed help. I play the violin. I didn’t know how to raise money. I could donate something, but it’s not that much.”
He learned about GoFundMe and other fundraising platforms. He performed a benefit concert for Ukraine at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Altadena in August with Melodia Mariposa.
He raised $13,000 for the Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra to travel by bus to the Republic of Moldova at Musikfest Berlin and then fly to Berlin.
“They couldn’t afford a hotel,” she says. They could not fly because of the war. They asked if I would pay for the hotel, which was about $5,500. It was a nice break for them to leave that horrible place. They were just crying. That was so touching. This is a very emotional topic. I can’t even tell you how I feel.”
War and year Voloshina has been tried. His mother died in February, and he went to the cemetery on the first day of the war.
“I couldn’t even imagine how she must feel,” Voloshina said.
“His two sisters are still in Ukraine. I am also helping their families. I haven’t even met them. I left the country when they were 3, and now they have kids. They wanted me to help them find a sponsor. They are now safe in England.”
Voloshina’s resume is impressive. He immigrated to the United States in 1993 without knowing English. He has appeared in over 600 films with John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner and Hans Zimmer. He performed for “American Idol” and the “MTV Music Awards” and was a member of the Academy Award Orchestra. He has joined the Pasadena Symphony and the Pops Orchestra.
“Every time I perform for John Williams, it’s a historic moment,” she says. “I have to pinch myself. It’s magic, magic every time I’m there. He’s absolutely amazing. Everyone has so much respect for him. When the actors come, it’s really special.
When: Saturday 29 October 7:30pm
Where: Pasadena Civic Auditorium, 300 E. Green Street, Pasadena
Cost: Tickets start at $32
Information: freedomphilharmonic.org or ticketmaster.com