Hunger is everywhere. It is one of the most pervasive problems of our time: in New York City alone, about 1.5 million New Yorkers struggle to find and afford food on any given day. According to the New York City-based advocacy group No Kid Hungry, “more than 474,000 children in New York City—about one in four—face hunger.” And unfortunately, hunger is on the rise. Nearly one in three children in the U.S. live in what the U.S. Department of Agriculture describes as food-insecure households.
The grim reality of those statistics inspired me and a few of my new Juilliard classmates to try to do something to combat hunger.
A bit of background: During orientation, I met two fellow first-year students, violinists Zeynep Alpan and Ariel Horowitz, and as we got to know one another, we realized that we had all been inspired by talks that some of the administrators and our teachers gave about envisioning classical music as a means of addressing social problems. Meanwhile, at our division meetings, we learned that underclassmen are permitted to share recitals.
As the early weeks of school passed and we started getting more used to classes and college life, we started thinking: Why not try to engage in community outreach and raise awareness along with giving our recital? While there had never been a concert at Juilliard dedicated to fighting child hunger in New York City, that wasn’t going to stop us.
We decided to perform works by Liszt, Beethoven, Debussy, and Sarasate, the majority of which are sonatas. We also came up with a name, Sonatas Stopping Starvation, and a mission: to use passion, dedication, and love for music to help eradicate child hunger in New York City. One way we hope to do this is by starting a food drive for the New York City Food Bank for a few weeks up through the concert. (Donation boxes will be placed in different locations inside the Juilliard building, the residence hall, and the Rose Building.)
We have been working very hard for this event and have spent a lot of hours in rehearsal, practicing on our own, and working with the New York City Food Bank. We hope to not only have a successful concert but also a successful food drive, and an experience that harnesses the spirit of Thanksgiving for everyone involved.