By Robert Cinnante
For some music is purely entertainment, for others comfort, and in some cases, an intellectual experience. Depending on perception and taste it may embody all three, or other attributes not noted. But when you connect with Music for Food, you become part of a process: audience and artists intertwined in the joining of music and civic engagement. You have been presented with a societal issue, hunger, and have responded with art.
When someone asks the question, “Why Music for Food?” I want to simply reply, “Why not?” When they say, “Why support Music for Food?” I’m bound to answer, “How could you not?” The affect of a Music for Food concert should speak for itself, upheld by the culminating and continuously growing figure of the more than 80,000 meals that we have provided to date through partnerships with local hunger relief organizations. But for some, that’s not enough. Some ask, “Why not just donate directly to a food pantry?”
Before reacting to the aforementioned question, I offer the disclaimer that I would never in any way want to discourage a person’s desire to donate to a food pantry. By all means, give and give generously. But when presented with an opportunity to support Music for Food, consider the implications. Sending a check directly to a food bank or clicking “Donate Now” is a singular action. Music for Food expands that action to create an infinite web that links all those involved. Audiences enable artists with a platform for social responsibility through music, thus raising awareness. In exchange for their musical offering, audiences donate to a designated pantry. The actions of both provide a service to the pantry, which in turn brings aid to those in need. Yet the process continues long after the final note of the evening has been sounded and the last dollar or can of food counted. Artists and audiences alike leave the concert hall knowing that they have made a difference. But it’s more than a good feeling: those who truly understand the impact of their participation are inspired to become advocates, spreading the word to colleagues and friends, some even establishing Music for Food projects in their own neighborhoods. Conservatory students who perform alongside faculty and internationally acclaimed artists share what they have learned through Music for Food educational programs, instilling in high school and middle school students the concept of music as a means for change. Other young artists go directly to those in need and perform on outreach concerts at food pantries.
It’s a never-ending cycle that thrives on the support and participation of the people around it. It’s the epitome of giving that keeps on giving and giving that gives back. It takes more than writing a check to a food pantry. It’s an investment that builds a community amongst communities: Music for Food.
Food for Free Executive Director Sasha Purpura shares her thoughts on Music for Food
Music for Food is an incredible example of the beauty and joy that can be created when a community comes together to help their neighbors. Each Music for Food concert gives back multiple times over. First, you feel good as you make your donation to help those in your community. Then you are rewarded as you listen to tremendously talented musicians fill the room, your heart and soul with incredible sounds. And finally, all of the contributions from the concert are put to work bringing fresh, healthy foods to those most in need. We, at Food For Free are grateful and honored to be selected as partners for Music For Food in Boston. Kim Kashkashian and her team lend their talent, time, and commitment to making a real impact on feeding our neighbors throughout our communities.
For more information on Food for Free, visit their website: http://www.foodforfree.org
By Robert Cinnante
From a young age my parents tried to instill in me the importance of giving back. But I never quite understood what that meant. My father, an avid sports fan, loved to share stories of star athletes revisiting the underprivileged neighborhoods of their youth to spend an afternoon coaching a little league team or working in a soup kitchen. I particularly loved the story of the basketball player handing out sneakers to an entire community of kids that might never be able to afford such a luxury otherwise. Stories of celebrity giving make for great news, permeating our perception of charity. Imprinted in our minds are the picture-perfect photo ops of movie stars presenting oversized checks to prestigious charitable foundations or billionaires pledging their fortunes away to grandiose international causes. But benevolence is not and cannot be limited to such a select group. Everyone reading this has the ability to give back. But how, you might ask? Until recently I wrestled with this same question.
In the 2008 presidential election I watched a debate in which both candidates rallied the American people to serve a cause greater than one’s self. I felt inspired but at the same time inadequate. I think I hit the same wall that many come up against; feeling compelled to give but held back by the fear of not being able to give enough. I think this is especially true of young people like myself. We view giving as something to be accomplished later on in life after we’ve reached a certain level of success, comfort, and security. Instead, I urge you to start giving back now. Figure out what it is that you have to offer and share it with those who are less fortunate. Find an organization that speaks to you and give back as you are able. Music for Food is a wonderful organization that allows you to do just that. That could mean a monetary donation to support our efforts. Every donation counts, and you shouldn’t tell yourself otherwise. But there are other ways to get involved. We have multiple opportunities for musicians to show their support by becoming a Music for Food Artist. For non-musicians, or those simply looking to serve in another way, become a volunteer with Music for Food, whether it be helping out at a concert or rehearsal, or seeing if you can contribute your time and talents to our administrative team. Last but certainly not least, I invite you to come to our next concert on February 18th, for it is the audience that forms the backbone of our organization. Your donation at the door: check, cash, or a canned food item, is your entrance fee to the concert, and your ticket to fighting hunger in your own community.
MFF's primary goal is collecting food and raising money, but it functions as much more. The part I like best (besides performing with my teacher, Kim Kashkashian, who also happens to have been my viola idol since before I could read alto clef properly) is the coming together of star performers, such as Miriam Fried, Pamela Frank and Laurence Lesser, in the accessible and familiar Brown Hall at NEC to make music at a price I can afford: what I would pay for a dinner for two. I know that's just the lazy and stingy college student in me talking, but the human in me is so thrilled to hear these legendary musicians work together towards a shared purpose: to make beautiful music and end hunger.
While most people (including myself) have imagined hunger to be an antiquated issue in our society, solved about the same time Oliver Twist was assigned to the "Classics" section of bookstores, it remains a prevalent and pressing issue as ever. But the fact remains that 1 in 9 people face hunger insecurity in the Greater Boston area. 18% of children must try to pay attention in school while they worry about where their next meal will come from. As Ms. Kashkashian says, "These are our neighbors. This is unacceptable".
Once, in the days when going to the mall with friends seemed a lot more attractive than staying home and practicing, I asked a music teacher why he loved playing music so much. He told me that musicians have the power to uplift the soul and leave the audience with the desire to become better human beings. Needless to say, he had me at the word "power". But really, everybody has the power to impact the lives of others. It is the choice of the individual to decide to do good.
Hey MFF Followers!
On Monday night, March 26, Carriage House Violin's hosted a beautiful benefit event for MFF at their newly constructed space in Newton Upper Falls and it was a real success! Miriam Fried, Kim Kashkashian, and Marcy
Rosen performed Ravel Duo and Mozart Divertimento (absolutely beautiful). And by the end of the evening, we raised $4800 and 110lbs - enough for over 12,000 meals through the Greater Boston Food Bank~!!
Thank you to Carriage House and to all of our audience members who contributed! And check back soon for photos from Monday's event!
Hey MFF Followers,
We have a new website! After a few weeks of work and some helpful color suggestions from Kim, Music For Food boasts a spiffy new site.
The big developments aside from the obvious formatting changes are a new artists page and a brand new page with details on how to start your own MFF project in your local community.
Check back over the next week for new concert video and a stunning little promo about why MFF is so important, featuring the musicians and volunteers that make it possible.
The MFF Team
Hey MFF Followers,
We have exciting news following Monday's MFF concert!
Because of your amazing support this week we were able to raise donations amounting to $2321
along with 100lb of non-perishable food
. This is enough food to provide families in need with more than 5,800 meals
. That's enough to feed a family of four for 15 months
! Everybody at the MFF team is incredibly grateful for your charity and with your continued support we'll be able to reach even more families in need. We hope to see you at our next concert on March 26th at Carriage House Violins. For more information and tickets please see our front page
or call 617-262-0051.
- The MFF Team
Hey Music for Food followers!
We have some exciting news! We have been awarded New England Conservatory's 2011-12 Entrepreneurial Musicianship Grant. We are one of six recipients this year and are excited to use the grant to expand our vision. Our Lunchtime Concert Series at Women's Lunch Place is already underway and we hope to establish our Sponsorship and Reverse Tickets programs with Boston-based performing organizations.
Visit http://necmusic.edu/em/grants to learn more about the Entrepreneurial Musicianship Grant and to see what other projects are being funded.
Hello MFF Followers,
Music for Food is proud to include two wonderful out-of-town guest artists who support our mission: violinist Pamela Frank and cellist Marcy Rosen. Join us for the Brahms G Major Sextet on October 17, 8PM at Brown Hall (New England Conservatory).