I am a professional classical violinist in New York City. I was winner of an Honorarium Prize in the 2003 Naumburg International Violin Competition, a Career Grant from Concert Artists Guild and have been soloist with many fine orchestra including Dallas Symphony, Greenville Symphony, Western Piedmont Symphony (NC), Philharmonic of Uruguay, Festival of the Atlantic Orchestra, and the Gateways Festival Orchestra. I have been soloist in all three Halls at Carnegie- the main Stern Auditorium, Zankel and Weill Recital Hall. My recitals, chamber music performances and CDs can be heard in broadcasts on WFMT radio Chicago, WQXR in New York City, WNYC, Internet streaming video and internationally in 43 countries on BBC World Service. I am a member of the Florida-based Ritz Chamber Players, Concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra of New York and member of the New Jersey Symphony and have performed extensively with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.
In March of 2005 founded a new community service-oriented music series called Music Kitchen- Food for the Soul. My Mission for this organization is to bring top emerging and established professional musicians together in order to share the inspirational, therapeutic, and uplifting power of music with New York City’s disenfranchised homeless shelter population. I believe a shelter exists to provide not only physical but emotional and spiritual support to those who, for whatever reason, have lost the foundation of their homes and communities. I believe that music reaches the core of our being and can play a vital role in nourishing hope, love and strength, particularly when performed at an extremely high artistic level and in a friendly, relaxed setting. Music Kitchen presents 30-40 min. informal and engaging chamber music performances by some of New York City’s top emerging and established musicians. I began the program with my church, Holy Trinity Lutheran’s Men’s shelter program and expanded right away to include the Olivieri Center for Women and recently the historic Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. In addition to over 65 top NYC emerging artists, Music Kitchen has presented Albrecht Mayer, principal oboist of the Berlin Philharmonic, and world renowned pianist Emanuel Ax!
The idea to create the Music Kitchen Concerts came to me while preparing for a series of solo concerts in February of 2004. Have just experienced the passing of a friend, I had not had time to arrange to play through my concert repertoire for my usual friends and colleagues. In a pinch, my husband Joe, who was coordinator of the shelter volunteer cooks and had just returned from there, encouraged me to play through my repertoire for the men at the shelter. The experience was very rewarding for me. Some had never heard classical music before and some were knowledgeable about it, but all seemed interested and moved by the music. This was even without the proper piano accompaniment. They asked me to return to play for them again the following evening even though they knew it would be the same repertoire, so I did. They seemed to enjoy the music just as much if not more the second time. After that experience, it occurred to me that not only do we musicians think of these play-throughs as a mundane exercise when it could mean so much more to those who need uplifting, but that I could pursue this idea of sharing music with them regularly, with a full complement of collaborating professional musicians. My vision for the performances is also modeled somewhat on the long-standing tradition of chamber music parties where friends come together for spontaneous readings of their favorite works, often inspiring listeners with the warmth and intensity which often comes across more readily in such situations. Bringing together terrific artists who may or may not know each other has been yet another joy for me in founding this project.
Immediately upon the genesis of this endeavor, I received beginning capital from several committed donors including noted arts philanthropists, several musicians, and friends in Japan. My goal is to expand my grass roots support base as well as attract corporate funding for this project. Although Music Kitchen is under the umbrella of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, money is raised primarily through independent sources in a manner which will not infringe upon Holy Trinity’s donations and operations. Pending funding, I present one to two performances each month, covering the multiple venues with as much repeat contact as I can accommodate on my small budget. The Holy Trinity shelter program runs only November to April and year-round for the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and Olivieri Center. My goal has been up to 18 concerts per season. Since March of 2005 Music Kitchen has presented 40 performances and counting!
In terms of repertoire, I offer a diverse combination of string, woodwind and vocal chamber music from the celebrated works of that genre from duos to sextets, including a dabbling of jazz and world music.
This Project continues to be incredibly rewarding for both shelter residents and artists. The joy of making music is augmented by the joy of sharing it with a completely non-served audience. Through discussions and feedback from the shelter residents, I have learned that some are new to classical music and some are lifelong listeners and former concert subscribers. Most importantly, I have seen confirmation that chamber music, when played at a high level of skill and engagement, is accessible and endearing to all. Please help me continue to bring great performances to NYC shelters. I hope you will consider making a contribution. Thank you!
Quotes from two listeners:
Thank you so much for being here. This is such a blessing, truly a blessing. I’ve never had the opportunity to hear anything like this- you play so expressively, so compassionately, so beautifully… I can’t thank you enough. I have had such a hard day…This has made my day and I will carry this with me for the rest of the week. Please come back.
“Hello, my name is Ronald B., and I enjoyed to hear the Musical Kitchen ensemble and the few songs they played today. The music was touching…and it really made me feel good inside to hear music like this. Cause I really never listened to classical music. I’ll be listening to it now that I heard it because it’s…I have a cousin that’s a doctor, and he used to go all around the world listening to music and stuff like that. Now I know why. The music I be listening to doesn’t make me feel this way. This music makes me feel real enjoyable; I really did like the music. I really loved it.”
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Violinist/Founder/Director