16 June 2020
By Ellie Palmer
Following a livestream concert on June 5th, pianist Margaret Fingerhut has finally achieved her goal of raising £88,000. That’s £1,000 for each of the 88 keys of the piano.
Her mission to help refugees began last year when she played a series of 32 concerts all around the UK.
“More than simply raising money for refugees,” Margaret said, “I wanted to do something in the face of the rising tide of intolerance towards people seeking asylum. So, I came up with the idea of a programme where I used the music and stories of composers such as Chopin and Rachmaninoff to make a point about how important the role of migration has been in the history of classical music. The musical landscape would look very different today if composers had not been able to move country”.
“The idea of doing the livestream came out of the adversity of lockdown, and the impossibility of doing any more concerts. I joined forces with singer/songwriter Sam Slatcher, the Syrian viola player Raghad Haddad who now lives in Birmingham, violinist Peter Fisher and the Kurdish composer and oud player Arian Hu, now resident in Beijing.
We called the livestream ‘Let Us Be Together’, which was the title of the wonderful song by Sam Slatcher we all played at the end - a very appropriate title under the circumstances!”
The money raised has gone to City of Sanctuary UK, and the network of over 120 local groups around the country who are working across their communities to build a culture of welcome for refugees and asylum seekers.
“The pandemic has hit many people hard,” Margaret said, “but none more so than people seeking asylum, many of whom have not been able to access the internet or even buy adequate food for their young families, let alone toiletries. It’s a heart-breaking situation”.
Find out more about City of Sanctuary UK here.