Katherine MartinkoHub Staff

Over $4,000 was raised for the Saugeen Shores Refugee Fund at the Classical to Contemporary benefit concert held at the Port Elgin United Church on Saturday, November 7. The event also also included a silent auction and all the money raised was going to support a refugee family during their first 12 months living in Saugeen Shores.

Approximately 150 people attended the event, which featured a diverse range of musical styles and genres.

The Allegro Youth Chamber Choir, directed by Shelley Van Veghel, and accompanied by Anne Little and Sahar Hassanien, started off the evening's entertainment, followed by Sarah Jane Johnson playing Niccolo Paganini's Variations on One String on cello with Christina Edwards, who teaches piano and music for young children at Blackboard Sound in Port Elgin, accompanying her on piano.

Port Elgin resident and pianist Sahar Hassanien was just one of the evening's artists who received a standing ovation, performing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Fantasia in D Minor and two Frédéric Chopin's waltzes. Hassanien also accompanied fellow Port Elgin resident Erin Milley-Patey, as she performed three French pieces by Claude Debussy.

Katherine Martinko on violin and husband Jason on Tambura along with Sarah Jane Johnson on cello and Christina Edwards on piano brought something a little different to the stage performing a Ukranian Folk medley, which was followed by Port Elgin local Jody Robbins, a voice teacher at Blackboard Sound, singing How Could I Ever Know from the musical The Secret Garden and accompanied by Christina Edwards on piano.

John Low from Kincardine sang Billy Joel's Piano Man, while Ben Rowley entertained with his saxophone and Dave Bertand, Ian Burbidge, Rod Code, Jim Gowan and Cam Porter entertained with their Beatles cover band, Get Back.

Saugeen Shores Refugee Fund Coordinator, Katherine Martinko thanked everyone who attended. “It's not often that coming to a concert can have lasting repercussions beyond creating memories of an evening well spent but tonight it does,” she said, announcing that the Saugeen Shores Refugee Fund had raised enough money in recent weeks to sponsor a family of 13 to come from Syria to Port Elgin.

“There are two parents and eleven children,” said Martinko, adding that it is likely a blended family with some children orphaned by war. The family is currently undergoing an interview process with Canadian Visa officers in the refugee camp where they are currently housed near Beirut, Lebanon. “Once that interview process is complete they could be here as soon as December or January.”

In an email to The Hub following the concert, Martinko wrote, “The concert was such an exciting evening. I was delighted with the variety of musical genres and the overall calibre of the musicians who played. Many people commented on how impressed they were that Port Elgin produced such an impressive set list on Saturday night.”

Once the first family is settled, their plan is to bring a second family, likely a smaller one, to Saugeen Shores.JodyJohn LowSahar HassanienUkranian