Stepping Out

Connect through melodies at the Symphony of Hope benefit concert at Tilles Center


Art connects us beyond divides.

That’s how Bernie Furshpan, marketing director and board member of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center, puts it when discussing the Long Island Concert Orchestra’s upcoming Symphony of Hope Concert at Tilles Center.

While the music is, of course, at the heart of this benefit performance, the evening is so much more than a concert. The aim is to support two vital organizations: Long Island’s Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center, and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

“When it comes to art, I think people in general agree that it’s something very healing and it brings people together,” Furshpan says. “It’s a wonderful connector for people.”

Proceeds from the May 2 event benefit both organizations.

The concert includes special guests from the Israeli arts school, which is currently facing a funding crisis due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Two students — one Israeli and one Palestinian — take part, sending a powerful message of unity through music. Michael Klinghoffer — Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance’s president — also participates, further emphasizing the importance of this benefit concert.

“This spectacular event is a golden opportunity for community members to support these organizations,” says David Winkler, the orchestra’s executive director and composer-in-residence. “By attending the concert, our community will not just enjoy an evening of incredible music, but will be helping JAMD and HMTC continue their essential work.”

With some 1,600 students, the Jerusalem Academy nurtures the next generation of musicians and dancers, Furshpan says. The school’s diverse student demographic — ranging from 4 years old to young adulthood — studies a cultural mixture of Middle Eastern music, European classics, baroque and jazz.

“Right now, everybody’s hurting,” Furshpan says. “So, we’re doing this as more than just beautiful music. It’s also something that’s special and philanthropic.”

During the first selection of the evening, the two participating students will perform together, accompanied by a recording of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance Orchestra.

“We have a hybrid experience,” Furshpan says. “On the big screen, you’re going to see the Israeli orchestra, and the students are going to be sitting alongside that screen and playing together with them.”

Klinghoffer also contributes as a keynote speaker.

Then, the 40-person Long Island Concert Orchestra — under the baton of music director and conductor Enrico Fagone — takes the spotlight. The orchestra’s repertoire includes the world debut of “Adriatica.” Winkler composed the piece to celebrate the oceanic connections between people. Its namesake is a node to the Adriatic Sea, which connects Eastern Italy to the Middle East.

“It has a multifaceted melodic personality to it — several different melodies, not just one,” Winkler says.“Over the course of the work, these melodies are joined together and ultimately, they produce the finale, which is extremely uplifting and powerful.”

The orchestra is joined by acclaimed pianist Alessandro Mazzamuto, in his Long Island Concert Orchestra debut. He’ll perform Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54.

“I believe that love of music and artistic expression is love for humanity,” Mazzamuto says. “As a concert pianist and teacher, my heart goes out to the students of Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. And I wish to dedicate my performance and interpretation of Schumann’s emotional piano concerto to them.”

This evening is all about bringing the local and global community together — the very definition of the Long Island Concert Orchestra.

“Our mission is to provide the best possible performances of international repertoire,” Winkler says. “To bring world-class artists, world-class musicians, as well as world premieres of international caliber.”

The orchestra leads the way in delivering visibility to a commitment to tolerance, respect and the arts.

“Music is what brings people together,” Furshpan says. “All forms of art bring people together. We truly believe that this (concert) is going to help the two organizations do some great work.
“At the same time, Symphony of Hope is really about the audience. They are the symphony of hope — the audience and the music in combination.”