Organizing the Charity Concert: an interview with Professor Zita Pandi

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On December 17 of last year, McDaniel College Budapest had the good fortune to host a charity concert, given by the renowned Anima Musicae Chamber Orchestra. The program included Grieg, Mendelssohn and Faure; the cause was the support of three siblings in heartbreaking circumstances. [Pictured: The Gal siblings.]

As I understood, you were the main organizer of this event. How are you collaborating with the Gal family on this concert?

Apart from teaching here, I work at the international department of the Liszt Academy of Music, Tamara was our student. She is a pianist. We met two years ago, and we became good friends. Actually, she is more like a younger sister to me, we are quite close. I’ve had the opportunity to visit her family in her hometown, last year April. I met her father as well, who since then passed away. And of course, I know her two younger brothers.

What were your goals for the concert?

The first goal was to gather donations, because the Gal siblings are in a difficult situation. Their mother died five years ago and Tamara had to replace her for the two younger brothers. The father was a free lancer. They lost him very suddenly to a heart attack a few months ago. It’s been a sad situation for all of us. I remember that I couldn’t believe the news, I kept repeating that this couldn’t be true. I thought it is nice to offer my condolences, but in a case like this it is just not enough. I really had the urge to do something for Tamara and her brothers and I was obviously not the only one to feel this way. I have to say that a lot of people who couldn’t make it to the concert donated as well or came to my office to ask if they can help. Many people were moved by this tragic situation even if they don’t know the siblings personally. Tamara gets very little financial support and she had to fight for her younger brothers’ custody because he is not 18 yet, so this was the main goal: to gather money and help them through the first few months.

The second goal was to make people aware of this family.  We have here three young and very talented musicians at the start of their carriers.

 

To what degree were you able to draw people to the concert?

Well, we had more than 70 people present at the concert. The invitations went out to over two thousand addresses, but I guess because it was Christmas time, people’s schedules were full. But, as I noted, a lot of people contributed without coming to the concert.   With over 70 people present and many others with us in spirit, it was a wonderful evening.

From your own view, was this concert a success?

To be honest, I was very nervous to get everything just right: you know, little chocolates for the guests on the chairs, nice invitations and so on. There were so many things to be mindful of during the concert that I couldn’t really take it all in.  But I think it was a success. A lot of people approached me and said how beautifully the orchestra has played, they are so glad to have met these wonderful young people, you could really feel the positive energy in the room. At the beginning, I was a bit afraid that it was going to be too somber and tragic, which I wanted to avoid. I know that it means a lot to Tamara and Filip who were present and were overjoyed to hear this performance by the Anima Musicae Chamber Orchestra, one of the best orchestras in the country.

And I have to say that the members of the orchestra didn’t even know Filip and Tamara personally before the concert. When I explained the situation to them, they were  immediately ready to do something for this family. They were simply happy to lend a hand to fellow musicians.

 

 

 

Are you planning similar event for next year?

I don’t know. When I addressed the audience before the performance, I tried not to look at Tamara because I feared I would start crying. It was emotionally very difficult for me, so I’m not sure I will organize another such event soon. Next time when I organize something, I would like for it to be a happier occasion.