Erin Fung, MusAid Operations Director

A concert with a great cause! On December 7, some musicians from the CPO will perform in a fundraising concert for MusAid (an organization which helps musicians in developing countries) at the National Music Centre. We caught up with Erin Fung, Operations Director at MusAid, to learn more.

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What is your role in MusAid?

I am the Operations Director at MusAid, and have been involved with the organization since 2009. At the time, I was taking a year off of school to decide whether or not to continue pursuing a career in music, and was looking for a way to reconnect with why I loved music, and was also looking for ways to give back to the global community.

What is the purpose of MusAid?

MusAid is an amazing charity that collects donated instruments and musical accessories and sends them to music programs and orchestras in developing countries. We’ve made donations to programs in Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Haiti, and are currently focused on Central American programs. We work closely with music schools to determine what their specific needs are and then devise a plan that will lead to the school’s long term sustainability. Our mission is to use music as a tool for social transformation by providing high quality musical education to at-risk children and youth.

Why is MusAid hosting a concert on December 7?

We’re hosting a concert this month to raise funds specifically for music programs in Central America. Earlier this year, we signed an agreement with the Youth Orchestras of Central America (OJCA), and are committing all of our efforts to schools in that region until 2017.

In Latin America, music is valued as a means of social empowerment for youth – because of that, governments have begun sponsoring music programs such as El Sistema (founded in Venezuela), knowing that its ability to draw youth away from gang violence and drugs is tried and true. For a lot of these students, music is incredibly important – it’s a way to nurture dignity, self-confidence, and provides a safe community where they can be valued as a contributing member of an orchestra family. There’s something so special about learning an instrument and aspiring to improve every single day, and also in striving as a group to make beautiful music together.

Last year, we launched the MusAid Fellowship Program, and began coordinating volunteer music teachers through a highly competitive application process on GetAcceptd. We will be returning to El Sistema-El Salvador, and the National Youth Orchestra of Belize to give free workshops and lessons this summer. Because many of the programs in the region are new (the NYOCB is only three years old), they need a lot of instruments, and also instrument repair tools and specialized training in order to maintain the instruments they currently have.

What type of music will be performed?

We’re going to perform music of Latin America, including works by Astor Piazzolla, Francisco Mignone, Osvaldo Golijov, and some transcriptions of Jamaican songs, Buena Vista Social Club, and Pajarillo, a traditional Venezuelan song. Latin American music is so fun to play (I think we all enjoyed hearing the Piazzolla Tango encore by Anderson and Roe on Saturday)!**

It should be a spectacular evening, with features on the flute (L’Histoire du Tango), bassoon (Mignone Waltzes), and certainly for the string quartet!

We understand musicians from the CPO are going to be involved – which musicians are performing?

This concert is supported almost exclusively by amazing performers from the CPO, including Lorna Tsai, Jeremy Gabbert, Marcin Swoboda, David Morrissey, Patrick Staples, Sara Hahn, Christopher Sales, and Alexander Cohen.

In addition, Pender Island Flute Retreat, a wonderful program for professional flutists founded and directed by CPO Associate Principal Flutist Gwen Klassen, has graciously sponsored our event. Members of the CPO CORE (Community Outreach and Education), including hornist Heather Wooton, will also be helping out the day of the event. It’s been astonishing to have the support of CPO musicians at so many levels.

 What do you hope people will experience from the event?

I hope people will learn more about the value and impact of music education. The arts, including music, have always been an integral part of every society and are a pure reflection of the creativity, the search for beauty, and the spirit common in all of us. Music has an immense power to inspire, to heal, and to uplift us – it allows humanity to set physical and political differences aside, and to work in harmony to produce something universally appreciated.

At the very least, I hope people will enjoy hearing these incredible musicians from the CPO performing some sultry Latin American chamber music! And, maybe take away a handicraft or YYC auction item, or two.

To donate an instrument or find out more about our organization, please visit www.musaid.org or contact erin@musaid.org.

**During the CPO’s Tour de Force: Carnival of the Animals and Turangalila concert on Nov. 29, piano duo Anderson & Roe performed an encore of Last Tango in Paris, arranged for four hands.