'The Little Road to Bethlehem' Michael Head
26 November 2015, 15:36
The Vienna Philharmonic is one of the world’s oldest orchestras, best known for its performances of great classical music. But now it’s announced a project to create a home for refugees in Austria.
One of the world’s greatest orchestras has decided to take direct action to help some of the thousands of refugees who have been arriving in Europe over the past months.
The Vienna Philharmonic has put €25,000 towards buying and renovating a former inn in St Aegyd, Lower Austria – and it has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise a further €75,000.
The building will house four refugee families and also function as a meeting place, concert venue and, according to the orchestra, "a place for cultural dialogue." The house will be managed by the Diakonie Refugee Commission.
The project has the backing of conductors Sir Simon Rattle, Christoph Eschenbach and Daniel Barenboim.
Christoph Eschenbach said: "I was a refugee. I know exactly what a refugee must go through who has suffered, for example, in Syria, under the Assad Regime and finally, somehow, finds his way out and then is confronted with the question: 'Will I be accepted or not? Will I survive or not?' We have to help."
Andreas Grossbauer, chairman of the orchestra, said: "We do not just want to set the example of a humanitarian attitude, we also want to encourage an understanding in which everyone can benefit long term – the communities and our own society."
Conductor Daniel Barenboim said: "It really is wonderful that a group of musicians has committed itself to an absolutely necessary campaign."
The orchestra is offering incentives for people who donate money to the project – ranging from one of the orchestra's recordings if you donate €30 to a standing ticket to the orchestra's world-famous New Year's Day Concert for a donation of €500.