A MUSICAL BRIDGE BETWEEN NEW YORK AND BEIRUT BRINGS HOPE
With the world spinning at an ever-accelerating pace, and one crisis after the next, we are fortunate to have people like Jean-Pierre Schmitt. To help the suffering musicians of the devastated Lebanese city, Beirut, the famous French-American conductor Jean-Pierre Schmitt organizes a series of local charity concerts. who organized a charity concert through crowdfunding, “Music for Lebanon”.
Praised for his precision and elegance at the podium, the native Parisian conductor has spent the majority of his life in New York City, where he built an impressive international career. He was born in Paris in 1948 and grew up in a family who understood and encouraged him to pursue a career as a musician. Although his parents insisted that he get a baccalaureate, which he did in philosophy, he at the same time studied music at the Versailles Conservatory where he would graduate in viola, music theory, and harmony. Later Jean Pierre met maestro Jean Fournet, the celebrated French conductor, who accepted him as a private student. Both Lengyel and Fournet are the two mentors who most profoundly shaped who he is as a musician to this day.
By now, many people have already forgotten about the once-in-a-lifetime disaster that hit Beirut on August 4, 2020, catapulting Lebanon’s capital city into abysmal chaos. Two massive explosions of 2,750 tons of highly flammable substance negligently stored in the port caused at least 218 deaths, 7,000 injuries, US$15 billion in property damage, and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless. In a country whose economy has already been in freefall for the past few years, this was yet another blow.
The upcoming concert will be an international collaboration between America and Lebanon: with the Lebanese Chamber Orchestra and 15 string players mostly from the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra. Jean Pirre's Classical Symphony Project partner Javier Oviedo will perform a concerto for saxophone and strings, commissioned by the prominent Lebanese composer, Naji Hakim.
At the last concert in January 2022, Lebanese violinist Mario Rahi played the Concerto for violin in E Major by J.S. Bach- with Jean Pierre conducting, of course.
The project had also proudly partnered with the Beirut-based ART IN MOTION organization on this project. The concert will will be the first one in a long collaboration between CSP and the Lebanese musicians.
For more than a year now, Jean Pierre has pent a tremendous amount of time on this project, happily doing so. It has allowed him to meet, often virtually, so many inspiring people who offered their help, advice, and encouragement. For this, he is immensely grateful.
The last free concert was held at the historic St. Joseph Church in Beirut on January 8th, 2022, with proceeds going to Lebanese musicians who are arguably even more affected by the merciless grip of fate than others like farmers or merchants. The conductor is planning alongside the Lebanon based non-profit, Building Hands of Lebanon, a series of three free live streamed concerts in October 2022, December 2022, and then April 2023.
The non-profit created the project Music for Lebanon to offer opportunities for musicians in Lebanon to showcase their talent to wider audiences through live-streamed concerts. Their philosphy is to build relationships that connect the past to present to dream about the future. As music is the bridge between composers, conductors, musicians, educators, and the audience that trancends physical limiations of time, it was the perfect avenue to use in this endeavor.
"It is very simple to forget that even if our lives are not always what we hoped it would be, there are around the world so many people who have much less. I believe that we artists, especially musicians, have a huge opportunity to make a difference, even if small, in the lives of others. I say “especially musicians” because after all music is a universal language… no words, no political nor religious connotation. At 73 I am still amazed, wherever I have conducted, in many cases not speaking a word of the language of the instrumentalists of the orchestra, we all open our scores, we understand each other, and music flows."
October 15th, 2022 at 8PM local time
St Joseph Cathedral des Pères Jesuites a Monot
Mozart, Grieg, Elgar
Octavian Gheorghiu, clarinet
Jean-Pierre Schmitt, conductor
The concert will be live-streamed
For more information and to be a part of this worthy cause:
CSP website: www.classicalsaxophoneproject.org
GoFundMe page: https://gofund.me/d689f7b4