Philharmonia to support Hansen's patients

The Philharmonia will perform for the patients and staff of Sorok Island, a community of Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) sufferers in South Korea, on 5 May.

Vladimir Ashkenazy

The concert, which is part of a tour of Asia, will be the first time in 15 years that the Philharmonia has appeared in Korea.

50 Philharmonia members will perform Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony under the direction of Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy in a concert arranged by the Lady R Foundation. Created in 2009 by the Dowager Viscountess Rothermere, the charity’s aim is to bring comfort and relief to the forgotten, the overlooked and the stigmatised in today’s society.

The concert on Sorok Island aims to raise awareness of the continued suffering and isolation of Hansen’s patients, and to encourage the social inclusion of those who have been stigmatized and ostracized from their communities. It coincides with Children’s Day in Korea and many children from surrounding orphanages will also attend the concert.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, who has been patron of the Philharmonia since 1980, is pleased at the Philharmonia’s involvement with the new Foundation. He comments: “As a longstanding admirer of the marvellous work undertaken by Lady Rothermere, I was delighted to hear that her ‘Lady R Foundation’ would be mounting this splendid concert at the Sorokdo National Park.”

The Dowager Viscountess Rothermere speaks with great emotion about her belief in the power of music to alleviate suffering: “After seeing first hand people living in a very isolated place, and usually with the loss of touch and of their eyesight, along with their more obvious physical suffering, I realised that music plays such a huge and important role in the patients’ lives. Music helps them to forget their mental and physical pain, even for a short period of time.”