2019 Concert to Feed the Hungry

Daniel Blake

Concert to Feed the HungryOn April 28, 2019. at 5:00 p.m., Buddhist Global Relief will hold its 8th annual Concert to Feed the Hungry, featuring yet another exciting lineup of contemporary musicians from around the world. The concert will be hosted once again by Saint Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery, a spiritual center in lower Manhattan that has been devoted to arts and social justice activism for many years.

This year’s featured performers will include Richie Barshay and Michael Winograd, who are both leading figures of today’s Klezmer music scene. The legendary jazz drummer Jeff Williams will bring his trio with pianist Carmen Staaf and bassist Michael Formanek. Also featured will be the award-winning Argentinian vocalist Sofia Rei, whose music reaches across a wide terrain of Latin American folklore, contemporary jazz, and electronic music. Finally, I will present a new chamber work entitled “Upasiva’s Questions”, which sets to music one verse from Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s recent translation of the Parayanavagga (“The Way To the Beyond”). The poem depicts a Brahman named Upasiva who is seeking the Buddha’s advice on how to cross over the “flood” of worldly existence to reach the far shore of spiritual liberation (Nibbana).

The metaphor of the flood evokes for me a powerful connection between the timeless spiritual obstacles to which the Buddha alludes in the text, and the looming crisis of climate change. In other words, there can be no realizing the “far shore” as taught by the Buddha if humankind cannot survive to reach it. As an existential threat, I believe climate change provides the starkest possible reminder of what the Buddha called samvega (urgency). For many of BGR’s beneficiaries around the world, this threat is a lived reality borne out of increasing scarcity of food, potable water and other basic needs. Thanks to the advocacy and fundraising of BGR and its partners around the world, some of the world’s poorest communities have begun their journey across this otherwise impassable abyss of abject poverty, and are cultivating the means to live healthy and dignified lives.

Contemporary musicians have an opportunity to create work that reflects this journey of survival and to celebrate our shared humanity. As John Coltrane writes in the psalm that accompanies his 1965 masterwork A Love Supreme, “words, sounds, speech, men, memory, thoughts, fears and emotions – time- all related…all made from one.” I hope you’ll join us as one on April 28 to celebrate this urgent effort with an evening of diverse and uplifting music.

For more info, please go to the concert website at http://www.concerttofeedthehungry.org or visit us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CONCERTTOFEEDTHEHUNGRY/.

Dan Blake is a multi-instrumentalist and composer who has developed a wide-ranging career as a contemporary composer, performer and educator. This is his eighth year organizing Buddhist Global Relief's Concert to Feed the Hungry in New York City.

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