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“A Musical Feast” to Play Benefit Concert Raising Money for the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge Sept. 28

by Emma Speckman

Sept. 23, 2014. Boone professional chamber ensemble “A Musical Feast” will perform a benefit concert Sunday, Sept. 28 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church to raise money for the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge.

The concert will begin at 2:30 p.m. and guests can gain admission by donation, with a suggested range of $10-50. A reception catered by Earth Fare will follow.

Karen Sabo

“A Musical Feast” is made up of flutists Akal Dev Sharonne and Kay Borkowski, soprano singer Linda Larson, violoncello player Corinne Cassini, pianist and violinist Laura Coston, oboe player Jessica Warner and pianist Aaron Adams. In collaboration with the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge’s aims, they will perform a program of music by women composers for this concert.

“We’re all classically trained,” Sharonne said. “Some have had long careers already and some are in their 20s but already highly accomplished musicians.” In addition to performing, Sharonne also serves as the ensemble’s artistic director.

Concerts are held in various venues around the High Country, usually in smaller, more intimate spaces than the large Rosen Concert Hall on Appalachian State’s campus, though they do occasionally perform there as well.

This event marks the first musical event sponsored by the Women’s Fund as well as the first collaboration between the fund and “A Musical Feast.”

“There’s been so much violence in the world this summer; it seems like every day there was something else,” Sharonne said. “I was talking to a musician friend and she was telling me of a quote by Leonard Bernstein, a great American composer. ‘This will be our response to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.’ ”

Akal Dev Sharonne

Sharonne said the ensemble decided to help the Women’s Fund after a meeting during which they decided to offer to lend their music to events put on by High Country organizations.

The philanthropic Women’s Fund formed in spring of 2014 as the result of a merger between the Appalachian Women’s Fund and the High Country Women’s Fund. They seek to raise money for nonprofits in the High Country that empower women and girls.

“We have the benefit of saying ‘Yay! We’re new!’ but we really benefit from the fact that this is a merger because our board members have a lot of experience,”said Executive Director Karen Sabo . “Those 14 women are a really interesting mix,” she said of the board members of the fund. “They’re all smart, get-your-hands-dirty women.”

According to Sabo, the fund currently donates to 16 organizations in Watauga, Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Mitchell, and Yancey counties.

“We are actively soliciting new members,” she said. “A lot of women’s funds have a very high minimum giving level, but part of our mission is inclusiveness.”

The fund’s official highest contribution level is $2,400, but they offer affordable options for those who want to be involved, but cannot make high payments. Their “junior member” giving level costs $25 per year and their “activist circle” level costs nothing.

“We ask those women to give us 10 hours of volunteer work a year,” Sabo said.

“Through funding to local nonprofit agencies, we aim to be a philanthropic catalyst for all women and girls to have access to the resources they need as they strive to become empowered and reach their full potential,” Sabo said.

The benefit concert venue, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, is located at 170 Council Street in Boone. For reservations or general inquiries, please call Akal Dev Sharonne, the artistic director of “A Musical Feast” at 828-264-1384.

To read more about the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge, visit their website at http://www.womensfundoftheblueridge.org/