Tag Archives: Homeless

Solo Violinist Honored for Work with Homeless

Last month, Kelly Hall-Tompkins of Local 802 (New York City) was recognized in the New York Times as one of New York Today’s New Yorkers of the Year. Last year, the violinist earned praise for her performance as the fiddler in the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof. But, she wasn’t recognized for that acclaimed solo performance. She was recognized for her monthly visits and performances of classical music in homeless shelters.

She first found herself performing at a shelter near Lincoln Center as she struggled to prepare for a solo performance following the death of a close friend in 2004. She felt she had reached her homeless audience of around 12 on a deeper level, affecting them more profoundly at a difficult time in their lives.

The following year she founded Music Kitchen—Food for the Soul, a program to lift the spirits of homeless people through live classical music performances. Since its inception, she has inspired around 200 other musicians to join her for performances in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and Paris.

Orchestra Steps Up to Heal the Island

A little more than three weeks after damage from Hurricane Maria that left 10% to 15% of Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra members homeless, the orchestra began a series of free concerts to help heal the island’s people. The orchestra’s musicians are members of Local 555 (San Juan, PR).

“Our idea is to play for those who need more,” said Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra Music Director Miximiano Valdés in a WBUR radio interview. “There are many people left with nothing here. The themes of the concerts, which include both classical and traditional Puerto Rican music, will be loss, survival, and rebuilding.”

Local 555 President Miguel Rivera, a trumpet player, also took part in the radio interview. He said the needs of the people go beyond food and water. “The people of Puerto Rico need food for the soul, I think, and music for me, is the best art because it goes right to your heart,” he said.

The first concert was performed October 13 in San Juan. The goal is to bring music to the hearts of many of those affected by the hurricane. The musicians plan to perform throughout November, not only in the capital city, but also in smaller interior cities.

“I think it is very important that we start performing as an orchestra and reaching out to people because we need to feel hope and I thin music helps us feel hope,” said piccolo player Ana María Hernández Candelas. “Music is the universal language, and it can definitely heal people.”