Year of Altruism Culminates with GSO Concert

Source: Greenville Journal

Year of Altruism concert celebrates acts of unselfish kindness

Greenville Symphony Orchestra conductor Maestro Edvard Tchivzhel knows what a difference unselfish kindness can make.
It was the kindness of friends and people he didn’t even know that allowed Tchivzhel and his family to defect from the Soviet Union, the oppressive nation that executed his grandfather under the Stalin regime, in 1991 and build a new life in Greenville.
“Our defection is an excellent example of how people can make a difference,” Tchivzhel said in an interview published on the website for the Year of Altruism, a yearlong celebration of human goodness. “Our new life here would not have been possible without the help of others.”
Organizers of The Year of Altruism believe Tchivzhel’s experience was part of the reason he agreed to conduct a commemorative concert on Nov. 9, the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, known as the “Night of the Broken Glass” and regarded by many to be the start of the Holocaust.
During Kristallnacht, Jewish synagogues, businesses and homes in Germany and Austria were destroyed, more than 90 Jews killed and 30,000 Jews were transported to concentration camps.
By the time the organizers of the Year of Altruism approached the Greenville Symphony about making one of the symphony’s Masterworks concerts around the theme of altruism, the season lineup had already been set and the brochures sent to the printers, making it too late for changes.
But during a meeting with members of the Year of Altruism leadership committee, Tchivzhel pulled a piece of paper with musical selections out of his pocket and said, “This is the concert I will perform for you.”
The concert’s music progresses from the darkness of the Holocaust to the triumph of faith and humanity over hatred and intolerance.
The opening piece, “A Survivor from Warsaw,” tells the story of Nazi cruelty in a concentration camp. Next is the theme from the soundtrack from “Schindler’s List.” The first half of the concert will close with selections from “Fiddler on the Roof,” which Tchivzhel describes as the story of survival through faith and traditions.
The second half of the concert features three movements from Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.
“Mahler himself struggled against hatred and prejudice. He experienced many personal tragedies,” Tchivzhel said in the Year of Altruism interview. “In his music, he expressed these struggles and showed his true belief in the goodness of mankind.”
The Year of Altruism grew out of a 70th anniversary commemoration of Kristallnacht. But organizers didn’t want to focus on the tragedy this year. Instead, they wanted to concentrate on the good that’s possible, said Don Kilburg, a member of the Year of Altruism leadership committee.
“We wanted the focus to be on the righteous Gentiles who put themselves at risk, like Schindler, for example,” Kilburg said. “The Year of Altruism is trying to provide the focus that good comes from individuals who take action.”
Tchivzhel said music expresses perfectly the whole idea of tolerance, altruism and humanity.
“There are so many great composers who wrote about the goodness of humankind. Even in tragic pieces which describe dark events, at the end there is a catharsis and they turn it around for good,” he said in the Year of Altruism interview. “In fact, all the great music, in one way or another is about humanity – from tragedy to triumph.”
Tchivzhel said the challenge was not to find the music, but to decide what to play.
“Music is an international language understood by everyone. It goes directly to your heart and soul and is such a powerful medium to express the idea of humanity,” Tchivzhel said in the interview. “For this reason, a concert themed to altruism seems natural; music selections came fast and easy.”
The concert is not the only Year of Altruism event at the Peace Center next weekend.
Duo Amal – international concert pianists Yaron Kohilberg and Bishara Haroni     — will play a concert on Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. in the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre.
At Kohilberg’s suggestion, the pianists – an Israeli and a Palestinian – joined forces in 2008 for a concert at the New Opera house in Oslo. After the concert drew an enthusiastic response from the audience that included many musicians and diplomats, the pair decided to form a permanent piano duo.
They have performed in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Their repertoire is varied and includes works by Israeli and Palestinian composers.
Tickets are available for both concerts.

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