Internationally renowned classical pianist Margaret Fingerhut has raised over £75,000 for refugees in a series of 32 piano recitals across the UK. Most of these concerts were in support of local City of Sanctuary groups around the country who are building a culture of welcome for refugees.
Her specially devised programme of words and music concluded in Sheffield on Wednesday 6 November. It was a truly fitting finale to the tour as Sheffield was the city where ‘City of Sanctuary’ was first envisioned in 2005. Nearly 15 years later there are over 120 local City of Sanctuary groups in the UK and Ireland, and broad support among schools, universities, local councils and arts organisations.
Margaret’s programme ‘Far from the Home I Love’ centred around the migratory stories of some of the world’s best loved composers. In Margaret’s words:
“It struck me that the landscape of classical music would be very different if composers had not been allowed to migrate. Many composers had to move away from their homeland, either because of war or fear of persecution, or they simply migrated for their work. So I used their stories and their music to reflect on the current attitudes towards refugees.
“It has been an incredibly uplifting experience for me to do this tour. I met many wonderful people all around the country who are doing so much to help refugees in the UK. I also met a number of the refugees themselves and heard their heart-breaking stories first-hand. Many of them would be alone and destitute without the support given to them by City of Sanctuary groups. In a rising tide of intolerance, hate and hostility it was life-affirming to witness so much care and compassion across the UK. It has given me hope for the future.”
Rev Dr Inderjit Bhogal, City of Sanctuary’s founder who was at the concert on Wednesday, remarked:
“Margaret’s performance was a meditation in music and migration. We were taken on musical journeys up and down her piano keys and repertoire. I saw people crossing seas and deserts and borders, and soldiers marching in on the keyboard. The music made me laugh and cry and give thanks for human courage”
Margaret is continuing her fundraising efforts in order to reach an even higher total of £88,000 – this represents £1,000 for every key on the piano. She has recorded the haunting solo piano piece ‘Memories from My Land’ which she commissioned from the Kurdish composer, Moutaz Arian who wrote the Refugee Nation Anthem for the 2016 Olympics.
The piece can be downloaded as a charity track single on Bandcamp: https://margaretfingerhut.bandcamp.com/. You can help Margaret reach her fundraising target through her Givey page https://www.givey.com/margaretfingerhut.