Pop-up orchestra near Faneuil Hall raises funds for Ukraine humanitarian aid efforts

The orchestra was made of 60 musicians from a diverse set of ensembles who had never all rehearsed together before.

Ronald Braunstein conducting the group of professional musicians, many of whom had never met before this. Caroline Whiddon

At 2 p.m. Sunday a group of 60 musicians, many of whom had never met each other before, warmed up their instruments and set up their stands to perform a 10-minute set to raise money for Ukraine.

The group performed the Ukrainian national anthem followed by “Nimrod” from Elgar’s Enigma Variations in Sam Adams Park at Faneuil Hall.

Ronald Braunstein and Caroline Whiddon, a married couple and founders of the Me2/ orchestra — whose goal is to remove the stigma around mental health — decided to take a step out of their professional lives to support Ukraine, with music.

WCVB posted a video of the performance to their YouTube channel, showing the sea of musicians looking down at their sheet music and playing along as Braunstein conducts.

During the performance, the group collected donations for Global Giving through cash and QR codes.


Global Giving is currently working towards a $20 million donation goal, with the funds going to “support humanitarian assistance in impacted communities in Ukraine.”

Donations will specifically provide shelter, food, and clean water for refugees as well as physical and mental health resources, according to the organization’s website.

Whiddon’s mission to put this performance together began just a few days before the event.

“I started emailing various musical organizations and musicians I know a few days ago, but most of the people only heard about the pop-up in the last 48-72 hours,” she said in a statement. “There was no rehearsal. Many of us met for the first time today.”

All 60 musicians outside of Faneuil Hall. Caroline Whiddon 

After signing up to play, participants were emailed PDFs of the sheet music.

Braunstein, the event’s conductor and the other half of the married duo, feels a powerful connection to the events happening in Ukraine because his grandfather was born in Kyiv.

An email which was sent before the event detailed the long list of ensembles the performing musicians hailed from including the Longwood Symphony, Me2/Orchestra, Winsor Music, Arlington Philharmonic, Merrimack Valley Philharmonic, Northeastern Wind Ensemble, New England Conservatory, Charles River Ensemble, UMass Lowell, Conservatory Lab Charter School, and Boston Music Project.


Freelance professional musicians also joined the orchestra.

As of Sunday evening, Global Giving has raised over $16.5 million for Ukraine relief from more than 77,000 different donations.


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