As we hunker down in these bleak but lengthening days and the concert scene begins to gear up after its seasonal lapse, Music for Food will give us three opportunities to hear wonderful music while doing good, beginning with Emmanuel Feldman’s account of Bach cello suites at Jordan Hall Tuesday night. What for many of us is a passion and for others an entertainment, MFF pursues as an enterprise for social change.
Readers of these pages may recall prior articles about Music for Food (here and here among others). Kim Kashkashian brought the model to the Boston area and has developed it into a powerful means to combine music with civic engagement. I volunteer with Music for Food and what most impresses me about the group is that its mission emphasizes the human need for food and music alike. Humans reduced to mere physical survival are barely humans at all. MFF advocates for the need to provide spiritual food also. Here is where music enters: Musicians volunteer their time, some concert venues donate space, and audiences get to hear great music. Along with entertainment comes education: details about hunger and food insecurity affecting tens of thousands of people in the Boston area alone. The organization asks us to turn that connection into tangible help for the hungry in our midst. Music connects us, and music feeds us—metaphorically and now literally. In many ways, this is a new twist on an old idea: J.S. Bach composed, conducted, and taught music in exchange for money and beer. Similarly, Music for Food wants us all to have both.
Clearly this message resonates. Started five years ago as friends chatted around a dinner table, Music for Food events now also take place in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Columbus, and Europe . Currently traveling through the network of conservatories (as this distribution pattern shows), Music for Food will soon be coming to concert halls the world over. It is a powerful model, combining fundraising, advocacy, and civic engagement. Central to the mission, donations must go entirely to local food pantries—so donors know they really are helping feed the hungry. So far, Music for Food has provided more than 100,000 meals and the number is growing. Now that they are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, their impact will spread further.
MFF’s season resumes with cellist Emmanuel Feldman in recital at Jordan Hall on January 13th at 8:00 pm. Continuing on his earlier recital at Tufts, Feldman will complete his survey of the Bach cello suites, performing numbers 3, 5, and 6. New England Conservatory is donating the space and the artist his time and talent. Admission is a suggested donation of $10, $5 for students, with all proceeds supporting Newton’s Centre Street Pantry.
The following Sunday January 18th at 8:00 pm, there is a Rite of Spring Dance Party at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (41 Berkeley Street, Boston). Presented by the Boston Philharmonic as a “New Directions” event, the evening is a partnership with Groupmuse and the Sheep Island Ensemble. James Blachly, currently Zander Fellow in conducting with Boston Philharmonic, will lead an ensemble of freelance and student musicians in a dance-along performance of Stravinsky’s riotous work. Combining the community dynamic and informal presentation of a Groupmuse event with the ambiance of a club outing, it is an exercise in reimagining classical concerts. At the same time, the happening will benefit the Women’s Lunch Place. Tickets are available at three levels: $50 for VIP admission (for concert and reception) through the Boston Philharmonic; $15 at the door; or $5 through Groupmuse and for students with valid ID.
Finally, Monday January 26th in NEC’s Brown Hall, Music for Food kicks off a three-concert chamber music series. Each will include Lieder and Mendelssohn. At this concert, a distinguished array of NEC students, alums, and faculty will present Harbison’s Piano Quartet, Beglarian’s “Of Fables, Foibles, and Fancies” for cello (Laurence Lesser) and narrator (Tony Woodcock, NEC president), and Mendelssohn’s String Quintet No. 1. Performers include Don Weilerstein, Angelo Yu, and Alexi Kenney (violins), Kim Kashkashian and Dmitri Murrath (violas), Laurence Lesser and Deborah Pae (cellos), and Vivian Hornik Weilerstein (piano). For this concert NEC is again donating the space and the musicians their time and talent; suggested donation is $25, $10 for students, with all proceeds benefiting Food for Free. This Cambridge-based nonprofit works year-round to bring surplus fresh food to the isolated elderly, needy and disabled.
BMInt supports Music for Food’s mission to transform the ineffable into a tangible charitable good.