For the Amatrice earthquake victims
I am a composer, organist, pianist, and Italophile. As an organ recitalist, I have given numerous concert tours of Europe, in particular Italy. I am the founding director of the MetroWest Choral Artists in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and Honorary Music Director ("Maestro di Cappella Onorario") of the Basilica in Gubbio, Italy. Until recently, I was artistic director of organ concerts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
WHAT AM I RAISING MONEY FOR?
The victims of the devastating August 24 earthquake in Amatrice, a historic town in the Lazio region of Italy (birthplace of the famous Amatriciana sauce). In mere minutes, half of Amatrice was destroyed.
WHAT AM I DOING?
In January 2017, I will play a tour of organ recitals in the Lazio and Abruzzo regions of Italy. The concerts are on January 14 (Rome, Basilica di S. Prassede), January 17 (Rieti, Basilica di S. Domenico), and January 20 (Morro d'Oro, Chiesa dei Ss. Salvatore & Nicola). For those who cannot attend these concerts in person, you can contribute via this GoFundMe campaign. 100%* of your donation will go directly to the town of Amatrice, in an official bank account created to receive such donations.
HOW WILL THE MONEY BE USED?
To ensure that the donations have a direct channel to the Municipal Authority, the town of Amatrice set up a checking account, made payable to the town itself, whose funds will be used to support the population affected by the earthquake, obviously starting with families in need and the most urgent repairs. The town ensures the traceability of the donation by publishing, on the town's official website, the donations and how they are used (though in this case it will be recorded as one donation). The money will NOT be used to defray the expenses of my tour or benefit me in any other way. 100%* of it goes to the town of Amatrice.
HOW SOON DO I NEED THE FUNDS?
The deadline for donating is January 2, 2017 at 8 a.m. EST.
WHY DOES THIS MEAN SO MUCH TO ME?
I can't describe my reaction upon reading in the news the quote from the mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi: "Amatrice is not here anymore, half of the town is destroyed." We cannot forget the fragility of the beauty in Italy. Buildings that took centuries to build can be destroyed in a moment. More importantly, we cannot forget the ordinary citizens -- human beings like you and me -- who in a moment lost everything they owned.
HOW THANKFUL WILL I BE?
My gratitude will not match the gratitude of the citizens of Amatrice whom you help. However, out of my personal gratitude, those contributing $100 or more will in February receive from me a full-color book (PDF format) with hundreds of color photos and personal anecdotes of my tour -- the music I performed, the people I met, the meals I shared, and the ruins that I witnessed.
MORE SPECIFICS ABOUT HOW YOUR MONEY WILL BE USED
1. Who am I?
I am a composer, organist, pianist, and author.
2. Where am I from?
I was born on January 17, 1971 to Italian-American parents living in East Boston, Massachusetts. My paternal grandparents were from Montefalcione (province of Avellino, Italy). My maternal grandparents were Sicilian, their families from Salemi (province of Trapani) and Mineo (province of Catania), respectively. I currently live in Natick, Massachusetts.
3. What is my relationship to the parties you're raising funds for?
I have no personal relationship to Amatrice or any of its citizens. I reached out, via email, to the mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi. I have corresponded also with his assistant, Roberto D'Angeli.
4. How will the funds will be spent?
The Mayor's office assured me, in writing, that the funds "will be used to sustain the population stricken by the earthquake, obviously starting with families and the most urgent works [repairs]. The payment of this checking account ensures the traceability of the donation and the town of Amatrice will publish on its website all the reporting of use of such sums" ("verranno utilizzati a sostegno della popolazione colpita dal terremoto, ovviamente partendo dai casi familiari e opere più urgenti. Il versamento su tale conto corrente le garantisce tracciabilità della donazione e, il Comune di Amatrice, pubblicherà sul proprio sito tutte le rendicontazione di utilizzo di tale somme").
*5. How can you guarantee "100%" when GoFundMe deducts 5% from each donation, and WePay collects 2.9% and $0.30 from each GoFundMe transaction? Why should I donate to this campaign when I can donate directly to Amatrice via PayPal?
The Town of Amatrice is not set up to receive PayPal donations. And obviously you cannot mail them a check; there is no such thing as an "international check." So there is no convenient way for you to transfer money from America to Italy.
Regarding the guarantee that 100% of your donation reaches Amatrice:
a. I am soliciting a donor to cover the cost of both the GoFundMe fee (5%) and the WePay fee (2.9%).
b. The 30¢ is per bank transaction, not per donation. I personally am covering that expense.
c. I have found a bank which has promised to waive the transfer fee, when the money is eventually transferred from America to the aforementioned bank account in Amatrice.
d. I have confirmed that the bank in Amatrice is charging no fee to receive the transfer.
e. Any other transfer fees that are not waived or otherwise covered, I will either find a sponsor to cover or will cover myself.
f. I therefore guarantee that 100% of the money that you donate – every penny – will be transferred into the aforementioned Town of Amatrice earthquake relief account.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the terrible earthquake in Amatrice. Who knew that it would be only the first of MANY earthquakes? The following is a post that I wrote six months ago, reporting on the rebuilding "progress." Please continue to keep the citizens of Amatrice in your thoughts and prayers.
Throughout the campaign I promised you, in no uncertain terms, that EVERY PENNY of your donation would be deposited in Amatrice's emergency relief bank account.
As it turns out, that promise ended up being even more true than I had intended! Financial wizard that I am, I overpaid, wiring too MUCH money to Amatrice!
As you can see on your screen, the total funds raised were $1,125 U.S. dollars. I made two transfers. Each one had a fee of $35; I paid this $70 out of my pocket. The second deposit totaled 325 dollars (285.61 euros @ 1.1379%). The first deposit, back in November, I had remembered as having been 800 dollars. It was, in fact, 800 EUROS ($884.64 X 0.9043). The amount of the second payment should have been not $325 but $240.36 ($1125.00 - $884.64). Thus, I overpaid by $84.64. The total amount transfered, therefore, was not $1125 but $1209.64.
Thus, the total amount that came from my pocket during the transfers was $154.64. (To say nothing of the thousands of dollars I spent on the trip itself!)
In a nutshell, every cent of your donations -- and more -- was deposited in that official bank account in Amatrice.
For those of you who donated $100 or more, as promised you will soon receive a handsome picture book (in PDF format), filled with photos and anecdotes from this colorful, bittersweet trip. In the meantime, to whet your appetite, you can read a few stories here: http://pensierimeridionali.blogspot.com/2017/02/la-musica-contro-gli-elementi-music-vs.html
Today is my last full day in Italy. But I don't want to talk about the musical successes of the trip. Instead, I want to tell you what happened today in Amatrice.
Today there were three (!) more earthquakes in that region, each higher than 5.0 on the Richter scale. Amatrice's bell tower, which since August has been gradually failing with each successive quake, finally crumbled today.
But even that is not what I want to tell you. Today, as I sat in a café next to Santa Maria Maggiore, I saw on television continuous coverage of the quakes, which affected the Lazio and Abruzzo regions. People are trapped in the rubble ... AND covered with snow ... AND the rescue units cannot reach them, because the snow has shut down the smaller roads.
We think we have problems because we get a slow WiFi somewhere and a 10-second Google search is now 20 seconds. Imagine being buried alive in both rubble and snow, and no one is coming for you. No one. You are injured and alone. It is snowing.
On this, the last full day of my trip, I am deeply shaken by this. I am ashamed that, in the applause and celebration, I sometimes forgot what this tour was really about.
Only four days until I step onto a plane to begin this great adventure!
I share with you two stunning videos. The first is of the location of my first concert, the Basilica of Santa Prassede in Rome, with its famous gilded mosaics dating back to the Byzantine era, 817-824 A.D.
The second video is stunning in a very different way. A few days ago, a drone captured the blanket of snow covering the ruins in Amatrice. Clearly, the people in this town had a VERY different Christmas from the one that you and I had! Please do not forget them.