My Music Charity Picks for 2020

Introduction

Although the heading speaks about music charity picks for 2020, my picks aren’t what you might expect! I’m a real believer in making charitable contribution decisions as a contemplative act in the privacy of my own home. I don’t like being asked to donate where I shop, making a snap decision about a cause I likely know very little about. I say as much at the cash register, and I realize that I’m just speaking to the messenger. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want to give because I’m feeling guilty by the picture of a malnourished child or puppy in need. I want to give out of being thankful and out of abundance.

There wasn’t a lot of abundance this year, due to most of my performance income cut thanks to Covid-19. Since I’m not contributing to any of my music charity picks for 2019, I’m not mentioning them this year. They are fine organizations. Instead, I want to mention two organizations that I have long supported, and will support a little this year. Although I’ve supported both for awhile, I didn’t mention them in the past due to wanting to keep the focus on music.

My Picks – Local

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art – The focus is obviously on art over music, which you would expect. However, they have made strides in increasing their music programming. They have provided a performance space for both of our local professional orchestras for many years. Just this month, they also have made programs from the Van Cliburn piano series available online for free.

What I appreciate most about Crystal Bridges is their bold decision to reopen in June, well in advance of other museums in our region. They could have sat on their hands, hoping that Covid would go away. Instead, they figured out a way to reopen in a scaled-down, yet safe way. I strongly feel that those organizations that have figured out a way to stay connected to their communities will also be leaders in the new normal.

Their very expansive halls feel very comfortable in which to socially distance. Plus, timed entry means that there are never many people around you. A lot of their programming is outdoors. This includes their extensive trail network, with sculptures along the way, as well as the huge North Forest. I’m not personally a fan of the North Forest Lights, but it’s an especially welcomed opportunity to celebrate art in the outdoors.

My Picks – National

Wikimedia Foundation – Most people know this group by as their most prominent project – Wikipedia – but most also just take the information for granted. I heeded the appeal one year to give, and kept giving because I want this incredible Internet project to be around for my lifetime. I can’t recall how many times their information was to me. They helped me in preparing listings for my church job, writing program notes, and in lots of other research, music-related or otherwise. Plus, I even contributed an edit to one of the entries, when I found an omission relating to the AOC French sheep cheese Ossau-Iraty!

In Conclusion

Although I realize many non-profits had a really tough year, it’s been quite glaring the omission I noticed in many of their appeal messages sent on Giving Tuesday. Of course, there was the boilerplate why you should give to us! Totally omitted was any empathy towards the giver, me, about how the pandemic affected my finances this year. This struck especially close to home when it came from my two music alma maters, Purchase College and The Juilliard School.

If these alumni offices took the time to survey their own graduates, they would realize that this year has been especially crippling for their graduates. Anyone who is a performing artist, whether a member of the New York Philharmonic to this piano teacher relying on part-time gig revenue, has been affected. A sentence or two pointing to concern for the giver could have easily been included; it’s called humanity! I’m certain that this would help their fundraising efforts, both in the short- and the long-term. That’s another reason I like being a contemplative donor: I can always say no to some in order to say yes to others!

Last Updated 2020-12-11 | Originally Posted 2020-12-10

My Music Charity Picks for 2019

Introduction

I’m a real believer in charitable contributions as a contemplative act done in the privacy of my own home. I don’t like being asked to donate where I shop. I really get irked when asked if I’d like to round up my purchase or give a buck at the checkout counter. It has nothing to do with the cause; it’s just that I don’t like to have to make a decision to support someone else’s cause on the spot. I decided a long time ago that I’d rather concentrate my giving where I have a strong affiliation. That’s how I came to choose my music charity picks for 2019.

This year, I chose four music charities. I do give elsewhere, but as a musician, I naturally feel more strongly about this area of giving. I publish these each year in case you’re like me and want to have some ideas about organizations that make a difference in music. The two local groups are too small to be ranked by Charity Navigator, so the links provided are directly to the group’s Website. I believe them to be well-run and trustworthy enough that I’ve decided to contribute. The other two groups have the highest four-star rating from Charity Navigator, which is my go-to Website when researching any charity. The links are to their Website in those cases.

My Picks – Local

Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra (APO) – This group performs chamber and symphonic music in the Bentonville community. Plus, it provides musical training to youth through its youth orchestra, APYO. The APYO is composed of 4 string and 2 wind ensembles, allowing it to offer programs to a wide age-range of school-aged children. I have a biased interest in APO, since they hired me to collaborate with cellist Allison Eldridge earlier this year. Plus, I have three piano students who participate in APYO.

Even if I didn’t have that personal affiliation, I would be eager to support them since they embody the total package of performance and education that every modern orchestra should encompass. We need to keep classical music relevant for future generations, and we can’t do that without providing opportunities for our youth like this. For someone who loves classical music, this choice is a no brainer!

Opera in the Ozarks (OIO) – This organization provides the perfect vocal complement to APO! OIO has been giving back to Northwest Arkansas since 1950! Based in Eureka Springs, OIO, and its parent organization, the Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony, presents summer opera during June and July using a pool of 50 talented young singers in an apprentice program. It offers three full-length operas in a rotation, and even offers residents of NW Arkansas a discount for attending on opening night.

My Picks – National

The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation – Founded by the composer of the film score for the 1990s movie, this Los Angeles-based charity provides musical instruments to under-funded public school programs.

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) – MPR is a local NPR affiliate in its home state, but that’s not why I support them. It’s a hugely important national producer of music content benefiting radio listeners throughout the U.S. I’m most grateful that they continue to support Pipedreams, a long-running weekly program broadcasting organ music from around the world. They also produce a smattering of wider-interest music programming, such as Performance Today and Live from Here, the successor to Prairie Home Companion. They also produce many special Christmas/New Year programs for many local NPR affiliates. My favorites are the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Cambridge and the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert.

A Curious Omission

I don’t want to start an anti-charity list, but I feel I must speak out. It might seem to be a very odd choice to include a public radio station in Minnesota, but not list our local one here in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I like our local NPR station for its news and comedy programming, but I can’t include it in my music charity picks for 2019.

Back in 2010, when I arrived in NW Arkansas, the local NPR station had a nice balance of news programming and classical music. Over the years, that has drastically changed. Performance Today, Live from Here, and Pipedreams were removed. More recently, locally-produced classical programming was eliminated. What’s left? Just a ton of canned programming, including nine hours most evenings of Through the Night with Peter Van de Graaff.

Just this month, the station snuffed out one remaining point of light: The live Metropolitan Opera weekly broadcasts on their FM signal. They are now available only via streaming. That’s okay if you’re at home, and intentionally want to listen. However, if I’m in my car, I’m out of luck. Same thing for any motorist driving through our area on I-49. Whether you like opera or just support good music classical programming in general, you’re not going to find it on the FM dial in NW Arkansas, except in the overnight hours.

Posted 2019-12-09

My Music Charity Picks for 2018

Introduction

Giving Tuesday is a real thing, as evidenced by my inbox today. There are so many emails and pleas for my money. I’m not against giving, but I do find it annoying when charities spam me multiple times per day. Worse, I really hate when they call asking for very specific amounts to be pledged during that very same phone call. In the end, I unsubscribe or ask to be added to their Do Not Call list. I prefer to make my annual charitable donations from a quiet place, giving to groups that speak to my best self, based on what I have to give. Lately, it hasn’t been much.

This year, I chose three music charities for contributions. It just worked out that about the only thing binding them is their common mission of music. The local charity is the smallest, too small to be ranked by Charity Navigator. The other two have top 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator; I’ve provided a link to Charity Navigator for those larger organizations if interested. Each organization has a different target audience. Each uses its resources in the best possible way to help those it chooses to serve.

My Picks

Opera in the Ozarks – I believe that giving should start at home, and this pick has been giving back to its community annually since 1950! Based in Eureka Springs, Opera in the Ozarks, and its parent organization, the Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony, presents summer opera during June and July using a pool of 50 talented young singers in an apprentice program. It offers three full-length operas in a rotation, and even offers residents of NW Arkansas a discount for attending on opening night.

The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation – Founded by the composer of the film score for the 1990s movie, this Los Angeles-based charity provides musical instruments to under-funded public school programs.

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) – MPR is a local NPR affiliate in its home state, but it’s also an important national producer of music content benefitting radio listeners throughout the U.S. I’m most grateful that they continue to support Pipedreams, a long-running weekly program broadcasting organ music from around the world. They also produce a smattering of classical music shows, such as Performance Today, and they also produce many special Christmas/New Year programs that are picked up by many local NPR affiliates. My favorites are the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Cambridge and the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert.

Outside of classical music, they also present Live from Here, which used to be called Prairie Home Companion. The new host, brilliant mandolinist Chris Thile, has completely revamped the show and it presents a smattering of uniquely American music styles. MPR is even busy outside of music, with shows such as Marketplace, which presents financial news frequently spliced into NPR news programming.

Posted 2018-11-28