Fort Wayne musician helping war-afflicted Ukranians

Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 6:02 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Alexander Klepach has been playing the piano since he was 5 years old.

Growing up in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine during the 1970s and 1980s, before the collapse of the USSR, he says life was great.

“Now looking back, I’m thinking it was in agony, you know before you die. It’s like the last time you’re catching your breath,” Klepach says.

He went to school in Kiev during his teenage years to play piano. Then was selected to go to Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the best school for music in the USSR, but then the USSR dissolved.

“I was witnessing what was happening in front of my very eyes,” Klepach said. “So, my worst fear was that the war between Russia and Ukraine was inevitably going to happen.”

After the collapse, Klepach and his wife moved to Moldova, where his wife was from. He says the country eventually became overrun by criminals, so they got connected with people from North Dakota and eventually immigrated there.

After two years, he and his wife received offers to play for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.

Now, 31 years after the USSR split apart, he’s watching what he thought would happen then.

“I was extremely mad. You know, that’s what I was thinking, back in the 80s when the country collapsed” Klepach explained when he first heard the news of the war. “I would think it was going to happen so many years ago, but when it happens in front of your very eyes.”

Klepach knows the horror well. His uncle and cousins were killed when a bomb hit their home near Shakhtars’k, in the Donestk region, in May 2022

He thinks about that tragedy every day and says it often keeps him up at night.

He blames Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky for forcing separatists to remain a part of Ukraine and Russian President Vladamir Putin for his aggression. He also blames both for using people as pawns.

“We’re dealing with each other like enemy, friend, enemy, friend. Really? How about friend, friend, huh? Everybody friend. What’s going to be wrong, are they going to be all love each other...Be normal to each other. I would say there’s going to be tons of solutions. Peaceful solutions. Sit down. There is a very simple way, like to have representation of Ukranian and Russian government in those new Russian reintegrated republics,” Klepach says.

Until the war ends, Klepach says he plans to help the best way he knows how, music. He says “It came to my mind immediately in may after that happened. There’s reasons, I’d like to be supportive of my people. I would like to possibly get some benefits out of that to help my family, to help my friends and in general to just show people what’s going on.”

Klepach will hold a concert and fundraiser at First Christian Church on S Calhoun Street in Fort Wayne on September 22nd at 6:30 pm, sharing music and stories of his home country, while sharing his perspective of the war in Ukraine, and hoping they receive his help, sooner than later.

“I must. I have to help my folks because they have no means to survive. They have no money whatsoever. Everything’s completely collapsed, even worse than it was during the Soviet Union.”

The event is free and open to the public and funds raised will go directly to support Ukrainian refugees.