Concert to Feed the Hungry Raises Funds Awareness And The Roof!

On June 17, the Middle Collegiate Church will host a musical fundraising event that’s become an annual tradition. In its sixth year, the concert is dedicated to combating the

pandemics of chronic hunger and malnutrition through fundraising and awareness. Purchase of a ticket will go to feed the hungry globally – in places ranging from Bangladesh and Cambodia to the US. Proceeds will also help farmers with food production and young women with education opportunities.

“It’s a grassroots effort that brings musicians together with the community that is awakening to compassionate action on an on-the-ground level,” says Dan Blake, who produces the concert with Buddhist Global Relief. “We’re not corporate-funded - we’re working with the kindness and generosity of the performers and volunteers.”

Though the concerts started out as jazz-based, the sound has evolved to fit the theme and it is truly an inclusive and eclectic collection of World Music stalwarts: Arturo O' Farrill, Grammy winner and founder/director of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance; Dave Liebman (“a mentor of mine,” notes Blake), renowned saxophonist and recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Lifetime Achievement Award; Innov Gnawa, a musical collective that performs the trance music of Morocco; Slavic Soul Party, a nine-member American/Balkan Jazz Band based in Brooklyn; and prodigy Arta Jekabsone, winner of last year’s Montreaux Jazz Vocal competition.

“I wanted to incorporate a student performer,” explains Blake. “And she’s one of the finest at the New School for Jazz, where I teach. They’re right in the neighborhood so we’re also kind of partnering with the New School this year.”

Dan will be on stage as well, adding his sax to the jubilant mix. “I’m going to be playing with

Dave Liebman,” he says, excitedly. In addition to being a jazz saxophonist, teacher and composer, Blake has been a meditation practitioner for ten years. “I came across the teachings of Bhikkhu Bodhi and thought about ways that I could get involved in Buddhist Global Relief. As a musician, a concert seemed the obvious choice.” BGR is also the organizer behind Walk to Feed the Hungry.

The event debuted in 2010 in an intimate setting. “It was a low-key concert in a loft space, “says Blake. “But the event quickly moved to these very sympathetic church spaces that have beautiful halls and existing arts programs, and are also interested in social justice and activism.”

Admission is on a sliding scale, with tickets ranging from $50 to the student price of $15. (The donation of $50 will go towards feeding Haitian children.) And if you can’t go but still want to help, you can: People who can’t make the concert can purchase a ticket that will be given to a local student or community support network. “It’s a double donation!” says Blake. “It’s donating to the cause but also creating an opportunity for a lower-income person to come to the concert for free.”

“We wanted to be in lower Manhattan, as it’s a happy medium for our audience members from the outer boroughs and outside the city,” says Blake. “Middle Collegiate is also very active in the Black Lives Matter movement, and have a wonderful charismatic pastor, Reverend Jacqui Lewis, who has done a lot of work with activism. They have a very diverse congregation, ethnically and spiritually. It’s a great fit.”

More information on the event and ways to contribute can be found by clicking here.

-Jim Catapano

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