Tag Archives: charity

Trumpeter Goes the Distance for Charity

Roy Wiegand’s career has crossed nearly four decades—and of late, many finish lines. For the last eight years, the Los Angeles-based trumpeter turned ultra-runner has taken on solo challenges in support of local and global charities.


A busy freelancer in the LA area, Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) member Roy Wiegand’s passion for running charity ulta-marathons can sometimes have him running from race to gig.

Wiegand of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) first collaborated with Lifewater International, a nonprofit organization that builds wells for remote villages in East Africa and Southeast Asia. In an ultra-marathon in 2013, in which he ran 250 miles over a week, he received a hero’s welcome after finishing at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Stopping at a couple of elementary schools along the way, he says, “I had a bottle of brown water from a village in Ethiopia to show people. Those kids sold cookies and brownies for a month before the run to raise money for other kids in Ethiopia.” He raised $25,000 over four years. “The disease rate had dropped 93%. Now, they can actually wash their hands.” According to Wiegand, “Between digging and maintaining the well it costs $40, which provides a lifetime of clean water per person.”

In June, for the Michael Hoefflin Foundation—a local organization for families with children fighting cancer—Wiegand ran the equivalent of four marathons in 24 hours (approximately 105 miles). He’s raised $40,000 for the organization. Roy’s Run for Christopher, now in its fifth year, is named for the 12-year-old friend of his son who died of a rare cancer.

Though Wiegand started running late in life, in his 40s, he says being a brass player pays off. “I’ve got lung capacity—and can run long distances without getting tired,” adding that it’s his colleagues who are all heart. The LA music community and the union serve him well on the trail. “Many musicians donate financially or with their music, or coming out and bicycling beside me.” During the grueling 24-hour  runs, whether it’s encouragement on the sidelines, supplying water, or a place to sit down, Wiegand is grateful for the support of his Local 47 friends. “It’s definitely not a one-man show. When you’re running through the dead of night, it’s good to have company.” One year, he says, there was a brass quintet to usher him over the finish line.

A few years back, the night before the LA marathon, he had a gig that went overtime. “I dropped off my trumpet and tux at the finish, ran the marathon—and actually, did my best time—took a nap, put on my tux, and played the next gig.” Laughing he says, “It’s typical of a freelance player who’s always trying to shoehorn in work or running wherever they can.”

Live club dates are his mainstay, but in his spare time Wiegand is a private music instructor who also coaches a high school jazz band. “Sometimes, it’s hard for parents to wrap their heads around music or the performing arts as a major and a potential career. It’s a leap of faith,” he says.

It was not much of a stretch for Wiegand whose father, Roy Wiegand, Jr., of Local 47, is a trombonist who played around the country in Stan Kenton’s and Woody Herman’s orchestras. The family moved around a bit, with stops in New York City, Miami, New Orleans, and Las Vegas. Wiegand showed prodigious talent at age seven and was naturally drawn to brass. He says his dad’s only seeming objection to his career choice was, “The trumpet, not the trombone?”

Wiegand moved to Los Angeles after high school and attended Los Angeles City College. After a year, though, he started getting calls to go out on the road. “Being paid to play was too strong a lure,” he says. “Plus, years ago, there was a lot of work out there.” He’s a versatile session musician, who plays jazz, classical, klezmer, bebop, mariachi, Dixieland, even salsa. He is also principal trumpet for the Desert Symphony in Palm Springs, California.


(L to R) Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) members Angela Wiegand and Roy Wiegand, and their daughter Sophie, pose for a photo midway through his 105-mile run to benefit the Michael Hoefflin Foundation for children’s cancer.

In 1997, a unique opportunity came up. After a symphony performance, he heard that The Who needed brass players for a revival of their 1973 rock opera, Quadrophenia. “A guitarist whose wife was a bassoonist in an orchestra I played with got the call for brass players. She happened to be near the phone and said, ‘Give them Roy’s number.’” Wiegand says. That call led to a year-long tour that took him around the US and throughout Europe.

This past September, 20 years to the day, he played again with The Who at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. “It was a reunion of sorts,” says Wiegand, who was joined on stage by his wife, Angela Wiegand, a Local 47 member and flutist for the Los Angeles Opera. 

One of Wiegand’s regular gigs these days is performing with the band, Jack Mack and the Heart Attack, a longtime LA rock and soul band. In between concerts, he is planning his next charity initiative, collaborating with Shelter to Soldier, a nonprofit that adopts dogs from local shelters and trains them to become psychiatric service dogs for combat veterans dealing with PTSD and other challenges. Their mission is: “Saving lives, two at a time.”

How do you connect with your community? Is there a cause that you support? Tell us about it. Please write to International Musician managing editor at: cyurco@sfm.org

Charity Fights Mental Health Problems Among Musicians

A study published by the charity group Help Musicians UK looked at mental health within the music community. The research was driven by 26 in-depth interviews with musicians drawn from a pool of more than 2,000 respondents to the Can Music Make You Sick academic study. Among the contributing factors to musician mental health problems were money worries, poor working conditions, bullying, insecurity, and isolation from friends and family. Those issues are compounded by the reluctance of musicians to discuss problems due to fear of losing work.

Help Musicians UK made three policy recommendations to help address mental health crisis among musicians:

  • To embed discussion of mental health awareness in music education and promote wider understanding in the industry.
  • To create a code of best practice to demonstrate an organization’s awareness of mental health issues in the industry.
  • To ensure that mental health support services for the music community are both affordable and accessible.
Anja Wood

Hamilton Cellist Anja Wood Follows Her Heart to Aid Families in Ethiopia

Anja Wood

Anja Wood, cellist for the Broadway show Hamilton and a member of Local 802 (New York City), founded her own charity to help Ethiopian families overcome poverty.

When Anja Wood of Local 802 (New York City) graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music in the early 1990s, she headed east to carve out a life as a freelance musician. A classical cellist armed with a master’s degree, she easily settled into a tidy routine of playing in regional orchestras and touring Japan during the summer with conductor Mamoru Takahara (also of Local 802) and the New York Symphonic Ensemble.    

“I lived like a pauper with little gigs here and there, and eventually worked my way up,” she says. Wood joined the union in 1997 when she first started subbing on Broadway.

In 2014, Wood received a call from musical director Alex Lacamoire of Local 802, who asked her to join the orchestra of the Broadway hit, Hamilton. It was the same creative team that produced In the Heights. Wood says, “It was exactly what I’d been wanting to do for years,” adding, “It was long before we knew what Hamilton would be. We knew people would react well. We just didn’t know it would be this juggernaut success.”

They play eight shows a week, but the union contract allows the orchestra musicians to take off four days a week and still maintain their contract. Wood says, “The brilliance of that is we can go and play another gig, and a friend and colleague whom we trust and love can come and play the show for us, and is happy to have the work. It’s a great system for musicians in New York.”

In a different role, a world away from New York City and Broadway, Wood serves as president of the Lelt Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps severely impoverished Ethiopian orphans and families. It began in 2009, when she and her husband began the adoption process for their second daughter from Ethiopia. Amid agency-wide and embassy delays, Wood says that their daughter, who should have already been in the States, was still in Ethiopia five months after she was legally theirs.

Taking a leave from work, she traveled to Addis Ababa to take custody. In Ethiopia, they stayed with her friend, the late Carrie Neel-Parker, who also adopted a daughter from Ethiopia. While visiting state-run orphanages, many in grave disrepair, they realized that some basic, inexpensive upgrades could vastly improve living conditions for the children. With the help of friends back in the US, who chipped in about $30 each, they were able to provide 250 girls in Kechene Orphanage with mattresses and linens, plus repair the crumbling outer compound security wall.

Wood initiated a music program at the Kolfe Boys Orphanage, where an instructor comes in twice a week to teach students electric piano, bass, and electric guitar. She felt confident that the efforts made in just a couple of months would give way to more initiatives. “Our daughters gave us this gift of having Ethiopian families and we wanted to continue to give back to those we now consider our family,” she says.

Back home she filed for nonprofit status, formed a board of directors together with Neel-Parker, and the Lelt Foundation was born. Its focus: nutrition, education, and job creation programs for very impoverished neighborhoods. “Our whole mission is to help people so they won’t need us in a few years,” Wood says. “People graduate from the program with assistance we give them—it’s a hand-up, not a handout.”

A partnership with the Ethiopian government helps the organization identify the most impoverished families in the region. Lelt pays the fee for their children’s public school education, about $2.50 a year, and gives them a daily nutritious lunch and after-school tutoring. Families are provided counseling and job creation services, monthly food rations, and household necessities.   

In just six years, Lelt has built a community center, and homes for girls and boys, which are refuges for children who are abandoned or severely abused. A dedicated staff in Ethiopia, managed by a husband and wife team (called Mommy and Poppy by the children) live on site, in the compound. “This team is deeply committed to the community. This is their mission. It’s what they want to die doing,” Wood says.

Lelt conducts seminars on money and business management skills, providing micro loans to families to launch their businesses—a “jumpstart to financial independence,” says Wood. “The kids are in school, moms have just started a small business, like vegetable wholesale at the local market or bread baking. Once they get started, we usually see graduation from the program about three years later.”

Investing in music education is a natural component of Lelt’s mission. In addition to Western instruments—keyboards and guitars—students learn to play the traditional instruments of Ethiopia, including the masinko (an ancient violin), the krar (a lyre-shaped guitar), and traditional drums. Traditional folk music is important to Ethiopians, Wood explains. It is what folk music might be to people who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. “Everybody has a grandparent, an aunt, or uncle who plays an instrument, and the children want to learn, too.”

In the music community Wood has found many on-and-off Broadway friends and donors who support her work. “In fact, 20% of the people who sponsor children in the organization are musician colleagues,” she says. “They are by no means wealthy, but loyal and compassionate humans who want to contribute in some way.”

Now, a busy mother, managing daily operations and directing the foundation’s fundraising efforts, Wood says, “Playing a show is the easiest part of my day. I get to go off and be my adult self and who I’m trained to be. I have a few hours of easy peace and artistic expression.”

Working with fellow pit musicians in Hamilton, Wood says, “I love knowing this group really well. I love coming in and knowing exactly where I’m going to put my F# in ‘Right Hand Man’ because my quartet is sitting right next to me. I know exactly where the first violinist is going to use less vibrato for emphasis and I’m going to match him. I know where we’ll sit behind the beat on ‘Room Where It Happens’ because I’ve learned this band so well—and that to me is exciting. We’re making this music as perfect as possible.”

For more information on the Lelt Foundation and to make a donation, visit www.leltfoundation.org.

Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana Holds Benefit for Mexican Medical Facilities

Carlos SantanaPRS Signature artist and AFM member Carlos Santana of Local 6 (San Francisco, CA) is holding a unique fundraising event at to benefit healthcare facilities serving two areas in Mexico. Through Santana’s nonprofit Milagro Foundation, funds will support the Santana Telehealth Project and benefit both the Santuario de Luz pediatric medical clinic in the town of Autlan, Mexico, and the Hospital Infantil de las Californias in Tijuana. Santana was born in Autlan and his family moved to Tijuana when he was a child.

“The Ultimate Experience with Carlos Santana” at the House of Blues is co-sponsored by PRS Guitars, the House of Blues, and Casa Noble Tequila. It includes a concert and private cocktail reception with Santana. Each couple attending with get an autographed, limited edition PRS “Corazon” SE Santana electric guitar, as well as enjoy luxury hotel accommodations and front and center seats for the show. Plus their names will be added to the Santana Telehealth Project donor wall in both medical facilities. A limited number of tickets, priced at $7,500 (couple) or $4,000 (individual), are available for the September 24 event.

Santana recently released Santana IV: Live At the House of Blues Las Vegas, available in DVD/CD and digital formats. This release captures the reunion of Santana’s band of the late ’60s and early ’70s. He has a series of shows lined up at the House of Blues.

AFM Member’s Foundation Provides Free Education for Music Majors

herb alpert foundationIn August, the Herb Alpert Foundation announced plans to donate $10.1 million to Los Angeles City College (LACC) to create an endowment that will allow all music majors at the school to have a tuition-free education. The gift is the largest ever to an individual Southern California community college, and the second largest in the history of the state.

The school has offered music courses since it was founded in 1929, and in the 1940s was the first college in the country to offer a jazz major. Among former attendees are Charlie Mingus, Jerry Goldsmith, Chet Baker, Lou Adler, and John Williams, a member of Locals 47 and 9-535 (Boston, MA). Alpert’s brother also attended the college.

“I love that LACC has helped so many low income students who have financial challenges but have a strong commitment to education and self-improvement,” says Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) member Herb Alpert. The Herb Alpert Foundation

LACC is one of nine colleges that make up the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD). According to the LACCD website, the LACCD educates almost three times as many Latino students and nearly four times as many African-American students as all of the University of California campuses combined. Eighty percent of LACCD students are from underserved populations.

Alpert has often said that one of the greatest satisfactions of his success is being able to give back to others. Through the Herb Alpert Foundation, he and his wife, Lani Hall, work toward their vision of “a world where all young people are blessed with opportunities that allow them to reach their full potential and lead productive and fulfilling lives.”

AIDS Quilt Songbook

Classical Musicians and Celebrities Collaborate on New Album to Fight AIDS

Today is World AIDS Day and Sing for Hope is releasing  AIDS Quilt Songbook: Sing for Hope, a new album featuring classical musicians and celebrities to benefit amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research on their quest to end the AIDS epidemic.

The musicians performing in the album ranges from rising stars to award-winning classical artists like Yo-Yo Ma of local 802 (New York City), Isabel Leonard, and Joyce DiDonato. The founders of Sing for Hope – Monica Yunus and Camille Zamora – also have a part in An AIDS Quilt Songbook: Sing for Hope.

The album, co-produced by GPR Records and distributed by Naxos worldwide, will be available on iTunes, Amazon, and retails stores throughout the US and Canada for $19.95.

Watch the video below to learn more and see how you can help.