On October 15, cellist Marek Szpakiewiczperformed a recital with pianist Jiayi Shi at Azusa Pacific University to raise funds for a three-quarter sized cello for the Soma Children’s Orchestra in Fukushima, Japan. The two played selections by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Schumann, Barber and Gershwin during the concert to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the 2011 Tohuku earthquake and tsunami. They also held an encore performance with the Soma Children’s Orchestra with Shi in Tokyo on October 29.
This is not the first time that Szpakiewicz has been involved in supporting victims of the Tohuku tragedy. Just last year, he organized a benefit concert to raise funds for a half-sized cello when he learned that student Risa Yoshida of the Soma’s Children Orchestra gave her instrument to another child. In 2011, Szpakiewicz also organized a charity musical event to raise relief funds for the 15,800 victims.
Szpakiewicz’s philanthropic efforts stem from his own experiences as a child living through the 1986 nuclear reactor meltdown in Chernobyl. He deeply empathizes with the children who have been affected by the 2011 disaster, and believes that the power of music can have a remedial impact on their lives as it did for him: “From the moment I was growing up, the music was a hope for a better life. Music didn’t only play a tremendous role in my education, but my development, all the dreams and hopes that music provided for me.”
[Source: press release, pasadenastarnews.com]