Music students help the world one note at a time

It’s not uncommon to hear about people who look for ways to help those in need, but it’s a bit less common to hear about people who are able to make a difference simply doing something they love. This, however, is just the opportunity that was given to some of the College’s music students as they participated in a “Play for Peace Perform-a-thon” at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts last month.

The Perform-a-thon began on Oct. 20 with different groups of people playing during one-hour slots. Each concert featured students playing on the Steinway Peace Piano.

The piano was created by Steinway and Sons, a company known for producing world-class pianos, as part of an effort to help raise money for the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) through performances and advocacy events.

The stop in Philadelphia, organized by Jacobs Music, allowed local youth to raise money to help children around the world.

Tomoko Kanamaru, area coordinator of keyboard studies, coordinated the College’s participation in the Perform-a-thon. She thought that it would be a wonderful event in which to participates for many reasons.

“What’s important is the cause: young people will help other young people,” Kanamaru said. “The piano will travel the world for two years and all the money will go to UNICEF. It also gives students a chance to learn what they can do with their talents.”

According to Kanamaru, the College’s piano faculty chose six students at the beginning of the semester to play the Peace Piano. The selections were based on the students’ skills and contributions to the music department. The students chosen were senior music majors Kristin Farina, Jackie Leone, Erika Safran and Dave Schlossberg, senior statistics major and music minor James Lubrano and sophomore music major Matthew Stock.

In addition to these pianists, a flutist, the College’s Chorale, directed by Michael Mendoza, and some of the College’s professors, including Kanamaru, performed at the fund-raising event.

“A good portion of the music department, about 60 people, participated in the event,” Kanamaru said. “We had to limit the amount of pianists, but included the chorale so more students could come. We had an entire page of College students sign the Piano’s guest book, which will travel the world, and that is very special.”

According to Schlossberg, Kanamaru informed him of the event, and after he did additional research about it on his own, he was impressed by the idea of the Peace Piano.

“The idea of touring a piano around the country to benefit UNICEF is sound in many ways,” Schlossberg said. “Not only does it provide donations and funds to a worthy cause, it helps spread great music around the world.”

In addition to helping a great cause, Schlossberg was also very excited about having the opportunity to play at the Kimmel Center.

“Although we performed in the foyer of the venue and not in the actual hall, it still was a prestigious honor,” he said. “Playing at the Kimmel Center is an excellent addition to any resume.”

During its international tour, the Peace Piano will be played by world-class artists, as well as locals from each area at which it stops.

It features a decoration that allows it to live up to its name: a hand-carved dove grasping an olive branch. In addition to this, the bottom edge of the piano is adorned with flags from 195 nations, symbolizing its worldwide mission.

According to the Steinway and Sons Web site, the company established a partnership with UNICEF because it felt the organizations would mesh well together.

In a statement published on the Web site, Charles J. Lyons, president of the U.S. fund for UNICEF, said, “UNICEF’s work spans the globe so it is only fitting that we have a partner that can help us spread our message through the only universally recognized language, music.”

For his part, Schlossberg was happy that music was chosen as a medium to help a world cause.

“It helps promote the idea that music can help (make) a difference,” Schlossberg said.

Kanamaru was pleased with the way the entire project, which has been in the works since August, turned out.

“It was a good opportunity, a meaningful thing to do because the students weren’t just donating money, but actually using their talents to help,” she said. “It was a fascinating thing to do.”