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With the world spinning around at an ever-accelerating pace, one crisis after the next, we are fortunate to have people like French-American conductor Jean-Pierre Schmitt to step in to helps fellow musicians. 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.Jean-Pierre has initiated the “Music for Lebanon” project partnering with “Building Hands of Lebanon”, a non profit organization based in New York to launch a series of live-streamed concerts featuring the musicians of the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Lebanon and freelance instrumentalists.

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 violinist Gabriella Lengyel and Maestro Fournet are the two mentors who most profoundly shaped who he is as a musician to this day.

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.

"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."

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 next concert of the series is scheduled on December 2nd at St Joseph Cathedral in Beirut. The program includes among others the Lebanese premier of “Transumanti” Tryptich for alto saxophone and string orchestra by Nicolas J. Chaanine with Javier Oviedo, Saxophone as a soloist. Transumanti was commissioned in 2021 by The Classical Saxophone Project andrecorded with the City of Prague Philharmonic.

Javier Oviedo

Nicolas J. Chaanine

Proceeds will directly benefit the Lebanese musicians, who are arguably even more affected by the merciless grip of fate than other like farmers or merchants.

We want to build relationships that connect the past to the present to dream about the future. Music provides bridges between composers, conductors, musicians, educators and audiences that transcend physical limitations of time and barriers, both external and internal”.

DECEMBER 2nd 2022 at 8PM (Local time)

St. Joseph Cathedral des Pères Jésuites à Monot

Beirut, Lebanon

N.J. Chaanine, E. Elgard, A. Glazunov, E. Grieg, G. Pierné, C. Saint-Saëns

Javier Oviedo, Saxophone

Jean-Pierre Schmitt, conductor.

The concert will be live streamed.


GoFundMe page:

Listen to the last concert presented by Music for Lebanon, held on January 8th 2022 at St Joseph Cathedral in Beirut featuring violinist Mario Rahi performing the Concerto in E minor by J.S Bach.



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