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March 16, 2017: 15 Years of Music for Humanity; First Unitarian Congregation reducing polio’s impact.

March 16, 2017: 15 Years of Music for Humanity;
First Unitarian Congregation reducing polio’s impact.

By Marilyn Letts.

The 15th annual Music for Humanity program will take place on April 8th, 7:30 p.m. at the First Unitarian Congregation, 30 Cleary Avenue.  It showcases talented young musicians, from the music program at the University of Ottawa who are the performers, artists and teachers of the future.

This has been an annual event since 2003 when the first Music for Humanity concert was held. Joel Harder, a graduate student at the University of Ottawa’s School of Music had approached the Rotary Club of West Ottawa with respect to sponsoring such an event. This type of concert could be a fund-raiser for the Club and provide needed experience and exposure for the students.  This successful collaboration has continued for 15 years and the funds generated have been devoted to the world-wide elimination of polio.

Rotary clubs around the world are cooperating with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to eliminate poliomyelitis.  Over the past twenty years, worldwide, known cases of polio have dropped from hundreds of thousands to only three(3) so far this year.  All proceeds from ticket sales for the Music for Humanity concerts are matched by the Bill and Melinda Bates Foundation to help eradicate polio worldwide. In Canada, many will recall 1953, when 11,000 people, many of them children, were paralyzed and 500 died because of polio.

Emily Shaw, classical guitarist and luthier, has organized this year’s program. It will feature musicians from the Performance Matters section of the School of Music, an outstanding faculty with a program designed to assist students in preparing for their careers as performing musicians and artists.

Emily explains, “Performance opportunities are very important to students as we develop as musicians. Most students have end-of-year recitals in April but performance opportunities leading up to that time are welcomed.”

Featured on the April 8th program will be:

  • Edana Higham (pianist, currently a research assistant in the Piano Pedagogy Research Laboratory),
  • Kelsey Gordon (soprano soloist in the Masters program),
  • Alexandre Bougie (a performing musician, bandleader, arranger and teacher),
  • and Julian Bertino (a classical guitarist interested in expanding the repertoire of the 10-string guitar).

The program will also feature the Velvet Brass Ensemble from the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy with;

  • Malcolm Horova and Charlie Watson on trumpet,
  • Natacha Demers on horn,
  • Quinn McGillis, tenor and alto trombone,
  • and Eric Prodger, tuba and bass trombone.

Last year this quintet performed at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival’s Rising Stars Gala. They also won first place at the Kiwanis music festival. This award-winning quintet performs a wide variety of music including classical, jazz and pop.

Music has been a significant feature of the Rotary Club of West Ottawa over its sixty-year history and it is pleased to help these young musicians as they begin their careers. Accordingly, we welcome your support. A reception following the concert will provide an opportunity for the audience to meet and talk with the musicians.

Concert tickets are available by email( m4h@rotaryclubwestottawa.ca ) or by phone ( 613-853-6642 ). Cost is; Adults $20 (or $25 at the door), students $10, and kids under 12 free.



Photo Caption: A quartet of guitarists from the University of Ottawa’s Music Program performs at the “Music For Humanity” concert sponsored by the First Unitarian Congregation in the spring of 2016. This year’s concert is scheduled for April 8th at 30 Cleary Avenue. Proceeds from the concert are used to combat polio worldwide. Photo by Campbell Whillans.

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