Following a successful launch of its first virtual concert, Bravo Niagara! has collaborated on a global initiative in support of the UN Refugee Agency’s COVID-19 response, to premier Thursday.
With this season’s Niagara concert series sidelined by the pandemic, artistic director Chris Mori and her daughter Alexis Spieldenner, executive director and co-founder of Bravo Niagara! are turning to livestream events. They began with We Are the World, which featured more than 150 singers and musicians, including some local students, recorded separately at home while in self-isolation during the pandemic. That video, the first for Bravo Niagara! received more than 27,000 views in the week following its launch.
The local duo of Mori and Spieldenner have since collaborated with Maestro Shlomo Mintz, a world-renowned violin virtuoso, on the virtual charity concert premiering this week, featuring more than 50 international artists from around the world.
After the success of their first video, says Mori, “I reached out to Shlomo Mintz, a friend from my school days at Juilliard who is scheduled to perform for Bravo Niagara!’s 2020/21 season. I was absolutely thrilled when Shlomo accepted the invitation to participate in a virtual performance of Vivaldi’s celebrated Concerto for Four Violins.”
Maestro Mintz will be joined by Carmine Lauri, concertmaster of the London Symphony Orchestra, Jonathan Crow, concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Nikki Chooi, concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra — and a Bravo Niagara! artist — as well as musicians from major orchestras in Canada, the U.S. and more.
All donations from the concert go to help protect refugees and the communities that welcome them in the global fight against COVID-19.
“The original idea behind the concert was to share a message of hope, by bringing music and joy into people’s homes during this challenging time,” said Mintz in a news release. “We know there are millions more around the world who have been forced from their homes and are in urgent need of humanitarian support — especially now. This brought me to the idea to turn this performance into a musical charity fundraiser. Our goal is to help raise funds for UNHCR in their efforts to support refugee families now facing the threat of COVID-19.”
The event will include a video introduction from Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and is supported by Barbara Hendricks, a globally acclaimed American-born classical singer and UNHCR’s lifetime Honorary Goodwill Ambassador.
“Music truly has the power to uplift and unite individuals – particularly during times of hardship,” said Hendricks. “As we all remain physically distanced, virtual communications are the connective thread that are keeping us together. I’m grateful for Maestro Mintz and for all the artists helping support the vital work of UNHCR in support of refugees. Every dollar raised will have a life-saving impact on millions of children, women and men who have been uprooted from their homes.”
Added Grandi, “this is a great example of organizations coming together creatively across the globe to support refugees, and we are enormously grateful to Maestro Shlomo Mintz, Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts, and all the brilliant musicians who have come together from all over the world to collaborate to raise funds for UNHCR’s COVID-19 response.”
The concert premieres Thursday, May 28 at 2 p.m. on the UNHCR YouTube channel, and will be shared on Facebook at Shlomo Mintz Violin Virtuoso.