Above: Minnesota Orchestra cellist Tony Ross, right, helped organize a first fundraiser for Syrian refugees in January 2016. (Courtesy of Tony Ross)
It's been more than two years since photos of Alan Kurdi flashed around the world. The 3-year-old Syrian refugee lay drowned on a Mediterranean beach.
The images lodged indelibly in the mind of Tony Ross, principal cellist at the Minnesota Orchestra. He called it “a stunning, awakening moment.”
Shortly after, Ross helped organize a benefit concert for Syrian refugees featuring fellow members of the Minnesota Orchestra.
Today the political crisis in Syria roils on, and the humanitarian needs remain acute. Ross said he “didn’t want to forget about this.” So he and his wife, fellow Minnesota Orchestra cellist Beth Rapier, have organized a second benefit for Syrian refugees. The concert takes place 3 p.m. Nov. 12 at Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church in Edina.
A total of 14 musicians will perform at the fundraiser. They include Minnesota Orchestra music director Osmo Vänskä, who will play clarinet in Aaron Copland’s "Appalachian Spring." The program also includes Mendelssohn’s Octet and Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin.
Recruiting Vänskä for the event was no small achievement, given the maestro’s busy international schedule. “I’m the official Osmo arm-twister,” explained Ross with a laugh.
Money raised this year will benefit an organization called Questscope, part of the Minneapolis-based American Refugee Committee. The concert will specifically help displaced people still residing within Syria -- more than 6 million people are “internally displaced,” according to the United Nations -- to help with re-establishing daily lives that are worth living.
The 2016 benefit concert raised $75,000. “For this one, we’re shooting to get over $100,000,” said Ross.
Ross acknowledges that America currently has troubles of its own. The recent onslaught of hurricanes and wildfires have brought devastation, leaving thousands of Americans in need of assistance.
“Our local community is, of course, always number one on our agenda,” he explained. “But we don’t forget about the world community. We don’t want to look only inside. We need to look outside, too.”
Benefit Concert For Refugees Inside Syria: 3 p.m. Nov. 12, Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church, Edina, $75, 612-343-3390 or questscopebenefit.ticketworks.com