Grace notes: Kids for Kids concert helps African youngsters with HIV
Updated 5:57 pm, Monday, March 28, 2011
There was meaning behind every note and every word of the songs that the Kids for Kids Ensemble performed Sunday at the Unitarian Church of Westport for the group's second annual fund-raising concert.
The dozen young musicians and singers chose powerful compositions with words that sent a message of hope to those children of the world who are less fortunate.
Kids for Kids, Young Musicians for a Charitable Cause, opened their concert with "We are the World" and continued with "Lean on Me," "Waitin' for the Light to Shine" from the musical "Big River," "Amazing Grace" and John Lennon's "Imagine." They concluded with a moving song called "Help is on the Way," written by Fairfield County composer David Friedman, a film and theater composer, lyricist and conductor, who has conducted for Broadway musicals and animated Disney movies.
"Help is on the way from places you don't know about today, from friends you may not have met yet ...," the performers sang, keeping in mind the children who will benefit from the Kids for Kids concert. Proceeds will go to the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps to provide a camp experience for African children infected with HIV. The association has camps throughout the world, the first started in Connecticut by Westport resident and renowned actor and philanthropist Paul Newman.
"It's the perfect sentiment of our concert, the message we are trying to send (about) helping others around the world," said Richard Weidlich, music director of the Kids for Kids concert.
"Plato said music and rhythm make their way to the secret places of the soul. What better way could we help these children in need than to play music and do what we love?" said Jordan Darefsky, 13, of Westport, the pianist.
"I did a research project on Africa for school," said Luke Sauer, 10, explaining how he learned about children living with HIV almost 8,000 miles away. Luke is the founder of Kids for Kids, organizing the group a year ago after donating a stipend he earned from performing at the Westport Country Playhouse to Heifer International, a charity working to end hunger and encourage self-reliance.
"Then he told me, `Mommy, I want to do more,' " said Reina Sauer, Luke's mother.
Kids for Kids picked the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps this year because the organization recently moved its headquarters to Westport; because they could help African children with HIV enjoy camp free of the stigma of their illness, and because they wanted to honor the late Paul Newman.
Alyson Fox, senior program manager for the association, told the Kids for Kids members "It doesn't take a lot to make a big difference." In addition to the children in Africa who will benefit directly from their generosity, Fox told them to keep in mind the families, children and communities in Japan whose lives were changed forever by the recent earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Fox also told them their concert was a fitting tribute. "Music is a part of everything we do at camp," she said.
The concert attracted an audience of about 150 people, including Susan Nakas, a teacher in Weston, who knew none of the performers but said she loves to see children coming together to show their talents, especially for a particular reason, in this case to help children in need.