WASHINGTON, DC: March 29, 2004

Benefit Concert for Kosovo Refugees

A benefit concert was held on March 21 at the Antiochian Orthodox Church of SS Peter and Paul in Potomac, MD (near Washington, DC), to benefit refugees from Kosovo. The concert was organized to help orphaned Serbian children. The concert had been planned long before, but recent events lent more meaning to the event.The benefit was organized at the initiative of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Washington, DC. The concert was attended by the heir to the throne of Serbia and Montenegro, Prince Alexander II, and his wife, Princess Katherine, who head the philanthropic society "Lifeline," which helps Serbian orphans. Their Royal Highnesses dedicated the concert to the recent victims of Kosovo. In his speech, Prince Alexander accused those who inflamed international conflict.

"For us it is exceedingly important to counterbalance the mobs of hooligans, be they Serbs or Albanians. I blame all who destroy churches and houses of prayer."

During the presentation of Princess Katherine, who told of the horrors occurring in Kosovo, and of the fate of the children who end up in orphanages, many of those who were present were brought to tears.

"We live in a world which has resources for war," said Princess Katherine, "but none for peace." There are strategies for war, but no plans for peace. Until we invest our efforts in peace, it will not exist." Her Royal Highness went on to say: "Russia and Serbia were always close. Both countries endured great sufferings. But, rising to their feet, both Russia and Serbia must become an example for the whole world."

Protopriest Victor Potapov, greeting Prince Alexander, Princess Katherine and the audience of clergy and laity, spoke of the close relationship between Serbia and Russia and of the hospitality shown to Russian refugees by King Alexander and the Serbian Orthodox Church, thanks to which the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia could live and develop freely. Fr. Victor recalled the pilgrimage his parish made last October to Serbia, and the visit with the Prince and Princess at their palace in Belgrade.

The choir of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, under the direction of Yu.A. Pecherkin, performed works by Chesnokov, Ledkovsky, Sviridov, Taneeff and other composers. Also, Toshiko Kono, one of the ten finest floutists in the world, performed a series of Western classical music.

Toshiko, or Vera, as the parishioners of St. John the Baptist Cathedral know her, performed with her mother, the pianist Sumiko Sophia Kono, and violinist Dionisia Wilkinson. A song by Tchaikovsky was sung by the famous Washington bass, Vladimir Ekzarkhov. A dramatic element was added to the concert by the participation of Serbian scholar Branislav Djordjevic, who spent many months in an American immigration prison because of the carelessness of his attorney. All the performers are parishioners of St. John the Baptist Cathedral.
After the concert, a short moleben was served for the return of peace to Kosovo.

The evening concluded with a small reception organized by the sisterhood of the local Serbian Orthodox church of St. Luke. Over $13,000 was raised for the Serbian refugees.