Jenna Duranko knows that even in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, research and treatment for ovarian cancer is still needed.

So with the virus preventing a more traditional concert series, she decided to do what many government bodies and individuals are doing to keep people safe: she went virtual.

“Music has a power to connect people in a way that not a lot of other things can,” said Duranko, a percussionist who lives in Frederick. “The power of connection, and finding those innovative ways to connect is very important right now … it’s one of the driving forces that led to not just throw the towel in.”

Duranko performed earlier this month in the first of a series of virtual concerts to support the Frederick chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.

This is the fifth year of a concert series to support that coalition, Duranko said. Viewers and others raised nearly $500 when she performed on Facebook earlier this month.

There will be three more performances on Facebook at 7 p.m. on Aug. 20, Sept. 3 and Sept. 17. The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition will host a virtual event at 7 p.m. Sept. 26.

Adrienne Smith and her husband, Matt Felipe, are scheduled to perform Thursday, Aug. 20. Smith is lead singer and guitarist and Felipe plays bass guitar in The Dirty Middle, a local blues rock group that has influences from the Alabama Shakes, Fiona Apple, The Allman Brothers, Elvis Costello and Otis Redding. The group also includes Justin Ehrlich on drums and Mike “Ponyboy Blues” Joyce on lead guitar.

Smith said this is the third event she’s performed at to benefit ovarian cancer research and treatment. She added she met Duranko through her father, as both sing in the choir at the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ downtown.

“It is very important to me to continue to use my platform as a musician to raise awareness for ovarian cancer as the onset affects people with ovaries in my own age group,” Smith wrote in an email. “As the months have gone [on] our lives have become incredibly isolated at times and I feel fortunate to have the resources to experience performances online.”

Duranko said donations for the local ovarian cancer chapter are not only important for research and treatment, but also important to support survivors of the disease.

“That isolation when you’re sick ... I think it’s twice as hard when you don’t feel as connected to other people,” Duranko said. “Viewing these concerts virtually … it allows more people to connect ... and to see there are people out there who are caring and support this cause.”

It’s important for people to realize ovarian cancer is still an issue, despite the coronavirus pandemic being in everyone’s lives right now, Smith said. The virtual concert series helps raise that awareness, she added.

“The Frederick chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition has had mounting success with their annual fundraiser and we wanted to make sure we continue on that success virtually,” Smith wrote.

“Just because some parts of our current lives have been put on hold does not mean cancer is on hold too,” she added. “People in my age group are at risk and the coalition helps to provide them with as much information as possible so it can be treated early.”

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at sbohnel@newspost.com. He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

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