On Friday, the Vienna Philharmonic announced that it’s crowdfunding campaign has raised an astonishing €10, 000, towards a home for asylum seekers, which it bought last month. There are still 54 days to go and over €60 000 still to raise! You can donate here: http://bit.ly/1lNJXVn
The Vienna Philharmonic has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise €75,000 towards buying and renovating a former inn in St Aegyd, Lower Austria. For every donation made, the orchestra offers a special thank you in the form of CD’s, DVD’s, concert tickets and backstage passes.
Following the huge numbers of refugees arriving in Europe this year, questions of nationality, social cohesion, and belonging have arisen. These issues are especially apparent in countries such as Austria and Hungary, which have faced the greatest influxes of asylum seekers. The CEO of the Vienna Philharmonic, Andreas Großbauer believes that aiding refugees exemplifies everything that classical music stands for, ‘When we play an opera like Fidelio, for example, the singers are singing about freedom – it struck me that if we did nothing to help the refugees coming to Austria, then our music just wouldn’t be honest anymore.’ Indeed, 40 members of the Vienna Philharmonic come from families of migration backgrounds and 20 don’t have an Austrian passport.
The Vienna Philharmonic’s campaign is of course hugely impressive, but there are also ordinary people throughout Austria continuously providing refugees with meals, blankets, clothes and shelter. On the other hand, in October’s elections, there was increased support for the Austrian far right ‘Freedom Party’. It got 31 percent of the vote, on an anti-immigrant platform that included a proposed border fence. In the face of this and of tensions throughout Europe, the crowdfunding campaign and generosity of the Vienna Philharmonic appears all the more impressive.
It might seem like a huge amount of money to direct to housing just four families, but the orchestra also wants to set an example and inspire others. The whole community is committed to the project and to integrating the asylum seekers in the long term; they will be taught German and the home will be a place for cultural exchange and benefit concerts. The campaign is raising money to provide more than just accommodation.
The Vienna Philharmonic has consistently had a strong focus on charity work. Throughout the year, it raises money for ‘Light in Darkness’, the Red Cross, Amnesty International and victims of landmines, it also gives charity concerts in hospitals. On September 28th, the orchestra gave a benefit concert which raised €116,892.73 towards the refugee crisis. Their latest campaign to house and permanently support 16 immigrants deserves particular congratulations!
(Written on December 1, 2015 )