NU music department joins effort to fight hunger

NU music department joins effort to fight hunger

By Gianna Barberia, news correspondent

Treble tones for those in trouble? Northeastern University’s Department of Music partnered with Music for Food, a musician-led initiative in Boston, to organize a concert which will take place on campus on Sunday. Music for Food aims to show that music can be used as a tool for social engagement by organizing concerts that raise money to donate meals to those who are struggling financially.

This year’s concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Northeastern’s Fenway Center. World-renowned and local artists will perform pieces from this season’s theme, “From Bach to Berio,” including Daniel Koo, Vivian Weilerstein, Edward Kass, Ayano Ninomiya, Dimitri Murrath and Music for Food founder Kim Kashkashian. The concert will feature the music of composers Luciano Berio, Henry Cowell, Bohuslav Martinů and Dmitri Shostakovich.

The project, currently in its seventh year, has donated more than 335,000 meals to pantries throughout Boston, according to its website. Music for Food has two core principles: Musicians volunteer their time at the concert and 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to a local food pantry.

Northeastern’s Department of Music is newly partnered with Music for Food; this will be the first concert they are involved with.

“Northeastern has a record of working in its community, and it seems a perfect match for Music for Food,” said Cashman Kerr Prince, general manager at Music for Food. “We are very happy to inaugurate this partnership with Northeastern University, and especially the Department of Music and the College of Arts, Media and Design.”

Many Northeastern students and department staff have also helped with the production and its promotion, said Arthur Rishi, concert coordinator for the department. Professor Daniel S. Godfrey, the department chair, first met Kashkashian, who is also a violist, in the fall of 2015 at a Music for Food concert. After attending the event, Godfrey and Kashkashian began discussing bringing a concert to campus.

“The concert on Sunday evening will be an opportunity for students to hear music in the classic concert tradition played at the highest level, while contributing, if they choose, to a vital effort to heal and sustain fellow members of our community who are struggling,” Godfrey said.

This year’s concert will be supporting Women’s Lunch Place (WLP), a daytime shelter on Newbury Street for vulnerable women and children that has been operating since 1982. The shelter provides not only meals and a safe space for women, but also services such as medical care and counseling. Music for Food has been working with the shelter for the past three years.

“They are a vital part of our community and we are very happy to partner with them,” Prince said. “Core to their mission is a value we at Music for Food share – treating people with dignity and respect, and meeting each woman where she is.”

WLP serves more than 225 women every day for six days a week, said Elizabeth Keeley, executive director of WLP.

“[We offer] delicious healthy meals, showers, laundry, 10 bed nap room, advocacy, resource center and much more to help women heal, restore their dignity and empower them to make positive choices to improve their lives,” said Elizabeth Keeley said.

Keeley met the former executive director of Music for Food, Robert Cinnante, after he toured the shelter in November 2014.

“They wanted to play classical music for our guests and, through their public concerts, raise money for WLP,” Keeley said. “This has been a wonderful partnership and, with Cashman’s leadership, the concerts have raised over $20,000 to support WLP.”

At Sunday’s concert, Music for Food expects to raise at least 5,000 meals for Women’s Lunch Place.

“The Music Department sees this concert as both an opportunity to bring first-rate musicians to perform on our campus, and also a way to help those less fortunate in our community through the charitable purpose of Music for Food,” Rishi said. “It is truly a win-win for the campus and the community.”

Photo courtesy Music for Food, Facebook

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