Last year I launched a fund to benefit the homeless during the holiday season by writing a new work for string orchestra and donating 100% of all funds collected to charitites benefiting the homeless. We raised almost $10,000, and schools around the country used the piece as a platform to launch their own local fundraisers, raising almost another $10,000 for local communities across the United States. It was a beautiful example of how much good there really is out there.
This year, I am offering a similar version of the piece but for Concert Band. To see a perusal score and hear a recording of the string version, visit https://www.brianbalmages.com/homelessfund. The piece is written to fall around a grade 2.5 - 3 so it is widely accessible, but it does not sound like an "easy piece" so it will work well with high schools, colleges, community bands and more!
DELIVERY: I anticipate beginning to deliver score and parts no later than November 13 (hopefully earlier).
You can read my original story below, but before that, let me be specific on HOW FUNDS WILL BE USED:
I will be withdrawing the funds and delivering them to the United Way of Central Maryland. The reason I am not listing them specifically as a beneficiary is because I have a close friend (her name is Beth) who runs all of the holiday functions and has promised me that she can personally process the funds with no processing fee and that we will be absolutely sure that the funds are used for the intended purpose. Thus, the majority of funds will go toward 2 events - the first is a "Harvest of Plenty" fund that will feed families a full Thanksgiving family (they are trying to reach 4,200 meals, each for a family of 6). The second is a "Holiday Fund" where they adopt out 125 families and purchase gifts for each family member. There is also a Holiday Village fund that is a party for 100 of their family stability kids. Last year we were also able to make a donation to "Helping Up Mission," a shelter in Baltimore that helps men get off the street, recover from addiction, and get their lives back. I am also hoping to raise enough to send funds to shelters in need in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and more (if possible). Thank you all for your donations!!
Now for my ORIGINAL STORY:
My name is Brian Balmages - I am a composer. This campaign is to support the homeless this holiday season. For your donation, you will receive score and parts to "A Solitary Wish" for string orchestra and piano (completed October 17, 2016). The program notes below best describe the entire campaign. 100% of the amount collected with go to charities benefiting the homeless.
I learned am amazing lesson before I began this piece. While I consider myself to be a “good” person, I read a friend’s comment about seeing a homeless woman named Joyce outside of Target. Joyce needed a new pair of shoes because it was getting cold outside and she only had sandals. My friend decided to get her the shoes, but also decided to buy her lunch and some extra food. Simple comments like “How will you heat up canned soup?” “Usually the microwave at 7-Eleven works.” “Why don’t you get the big peanut butter?” “Because it is too heavy to carry around.” And then she remarked how every single person around them averted their eyes as they walked by. It gave her a tremendous amount of perspective and a desire to be much more empathetic in the future. I thought the same thing.
Fast-forward just a few hours. I was outside a food store with my kids and there was a man outside asking for some food. I watched quite a few people walk by. Some actually said “sorry” as they walked by, but most of them did not even look at him or acknowledge him when he spoke to them. Finally, with my new “perspective” in hand, I walked up to him and asked him if he was okay. He just needed something to drink and a little bit of food. I took him into the store with me and bought him something. His name is Bruce. He is 32 years old. He has three kids – 2 in elementary school and 1 in middle school. He acknowledged that he’s made plenty of mistakes in life, but that he is trying really hard to get back up on his feet and live in the area so he can be close to his kids. We chatted for a bit, then I had to run and get my youngest to a soccer game. As we were leaving, he held the door open for us and said thanks. “It’s hard when people ignore you all day long. Thanks for stopping.” With the holiday season approaching, this struck me hard. So many of us are already making our “lists.” Others are bugging us for them so they can start their shopping early. We are annoyed because we have to go to several houses on Thanksgiving Day, or open gifts at several houses (or travel) during the holiday season. And then some perspective – someone like Joyce or Bruce – they wish for food, water, and for someone to notice them.
There are many holiday pieces out there about everything you can imagine. This one begins with a single individual (a cello soloist) just asking to be noticed while everyone walks by – some dropping a few coins or a dollar but avoiding conversation at all cost. As the music develops, we experience a wide range of emotions as the joy of the holidays is juxtaposed with solitude. Ultimately, in this particular story, the individual is joined by another, and eventually there are four of them together (the quartet). As a couple people begin to leave, one stays behind (a violin soloist) and the person’s wish comes true.
Please share this story. It is my hope that this piece will spread awareness and help individuals all over the world. Donate your time, donate a small amount, or just smile and say hello. You just may make someone’s wish come true.
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