SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The sound of Ukrainian music filled Schenectady’s Central Park Thursday night during the Music Haven concert series. But the celebration of culture had deeper meaning amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Part joyful musical trip through different regions of Ukraine and part anti-war protest, the DakhaBrakha concert ended with a solemn candlelight vigil remembering the thousands killed in Ukraine. The band members are from Kyiv where the soundtrack of their lives has been very different since Russia’s invasion on February 24. Piercing air raid sirens sent them running for shelter.

“Of course it’s a tragic experience, and we never wish anyone to feel this,” Marko Halanevych said. “You can’t realize it impossible for your brains to understand.”

They’ve always felt a mission to preserve Ukrainian culture through their music, but that mission has taken on an added sense of urgency now with this tour.

“This horrific myth that Russia is sharing, that Ukraine has no distinct music or culture is false, and tonight is proof of that,” Mona Golub said.

The war in Ukraine is never far from the minds of local Ukrainian Americans, who were invited by Golub, the Music Haven Producing Artistic Director, to fundraise during the concert.

“Our local Ukrainian school has been making these wonderful pins, donated by all our moms, time and money, and we have sent $13,000 over to Ukraine and refugee camps in Slovakia since the war has begun,” Tanya Petroff said.

Dakhabrakha says the support shown throughout their tour of North America, and the determination of people to attend no matter what the weather in the Capital Region, fuels their drive to keep spreading their musical message.

“We have so many great words from people, words of support and solidarity, and people around the world and people in the U.S.,” Halanevych said. “They pray for us and are ready to help in different ways and say they are ready to support us and support truth.”

The band’s name DakhaBrakha means give and take. Their tour is giving Ukraine’s fight for independence a wider audience, and when they return in a few weeks, they will take this message of support from the Capital Region.