Collaborative Music Celebration To Benefit Ukrainian Relief

Olga Topuzova-Meade, a native of Ukraine, is the pianist for Waterville United Methodist Church. Last week she was practicing for the World Christmas Music Celebration and Benefit Concert for Ukrainian Relief at the church, 7115 Waterville Monclova Rd., on Saturday, December 9 at 4:00 p.m. The event will feature musicians from Bowling Green State University and Anthony Wayne High School. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Olga Topuzova-Meade hasn’t been back to Ukraine since she moved to the United States in 2002, but she speaks regularly to family members living in Odessa, a city on the Black Sea.

“It’s beautiful. Odessa is not seeing big war action, but they keep hearing sirens every night,” Topuzova-Meade said, explaining that families must get up in the middle of the night and sit in the hallway for hours if there is no bomb shelter nearby. “Now the sirens can go an entire day on and off. It’s stressful because you never know what will happen.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, organizations including Waterville United Methodist Church – where Topuzova-Meade serves as pianist – have raised funds for disaster relief. 

On Saturday, December 9 at 4:00 p.m., Topuzova-Meade will join musicians from Bowling Green State University and Anthony Wayne High School to present a World Christmas Music Celebration and Benefit Concert for Ukrainian Relief at the church, 7115 Waterville Monclova Rd.

“It’s a great way for me personally to help the country I’m from. Music is the same language for everybody. It’s understandable and inspiring,” she said. “In hard times, it’s always helpful to lift the spirit. The combination of that and financial relief I think is great.”

The concert came about during conversations with BGSU music faculty and the church’s pastor, Rev. Teresa Wenrick.

Music will include pieces from Germany, France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Ukraine, Spain and Mexico, performed by Anthony Wayne High School’s Close Harmony and Symphonic Chorale choirs, Bowling Green State University faculty and students of vocal and instrumental music, the Half-Shaven Barbershop Quartet and Deux Saisons.

The audience will also be invited to participate in hymn and carol singing.

“It is going to be a concert of extraordinary talent,” said Wenrick. “I’m so grateful for all these artists to volunteer their time and talent to help those around the world.”

BGSU performers include sopranos Sofia Vasiliadou, Keri Lee Pierson and Alexandria Meade; mezzo-soprano Ellen Scholl; tenors Cameron Baker, Mike Perry and Christopher Scholl; baritone Giovanni Castiglione; and bass Jaylen Donald. Musicians also include Dr. Elaine Colprit, violin; Dr. Christopher Schoelen, guitar; Sarah Munson, violin; and Olga Topuzova-Meade, piano.

Led by director Kayla Dye, the Anthony Wayne High School performers will include Ayva Bartley, Aliza Boerst, Amelia Cappel, Jalynn Casteel, Layla Doyle, Jamie Eberly, Fiona Ellison, Eleanor Fleetwood, Ainsley Gasiorski, Samantha Hansen, Ashlynn Jacobs, Jorie Keener, Chloe Klopfenstein, Rebecca Koralewski, Elisa Liemann, Tyler Miller, Abraham Nixon, Jackson Peterson, Ella Pfefferle, Emily Pollock, Caleb Rowland, Devin Schroeder, Austin Small, Lucas Sulaica, Foster Thompson and Addison Zinz.

Growing up in Ukraine, Topuzova-Meade was surrounded by music. Her mother was a college choral director and her father a conductor of musical theater and choral director.

Topuzova-Meade began her studies at a music school for gifted children. She earned her master’s degree from A.V. Nejdanova Conservatory in Odessa and received her postgraduate diploma from P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, where she studied with world-renowned pianist Sergey Dorensky. 

She has performed with the Philharmonic Orchestra in Odessa and at the International French Piano Festival in Paris, the Valsesiana Festival in Italy, the International Piano Master Course in Zurich and the Mozarteum International Summer Academy in Salzburg, Austria. 

After marrying Arthur Meade, she moved to the United States in 2002 and earned a master’s degree in piano performance and collaborative piano from BGSU, where her daughter Alexandria is majoring in musical theater. Topuzova-Meade currently serves as pianist for Bowling Green middle and high school choir departments and accompanies students of BGSU’s choral department.  

In 2006, she joined Waterville United Methodist Church.

“It’s my family here,” she said of the church. “It’s very good to be blessed with a church family.”

The event is free, with donations accepted for the United Methodist Committee on Relief to aid Ukraine. Checks should be made payable to Waterville United Methodist Church, marked Ukraine. 

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