Making Music as a Mitzvah


Once a child prodigy in Leningrad and now a well-known concert pianist who has performed throughout the world, pianist Mikhail Yanovitsky will give a benefit concert for Hatzolah, an all-volunteer Israeli emergency medical service, on Sunday, June 18, at 4 p.m., at Shaare Shamayim Synagogue, 9768 Verree Road in Philadelphia.

The concert is being organized by Uru Akhim (in English: "Rise Up Brothers"), a local group of New Americans that has partnered with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's Center for Israel and Overseas to raise more funds for Hatzolah, which has received grants from the center.

Last year, the group raised $18,000 for an ambucycle for Ma'ale Adomim, a settlement outside Jerusalem. The ambucycle, which has averaged 50 responses per month, is a motorcycle specifically rebuilt to hold emergency medial equipment. Because of its mobility, it can provide assistance within 72 seconds at the scenes of terrorist attacks and civilian accidents and fires.

Proceeds from the concert will be used to help purchase defibrillators for the all-volunteer service at a cost of $2,500 each.

"Our group's long-term goal is to reconnect the Russian Jewish community to Philadelphia's Jewish community life and to help Israel," said Gary Kanevsky, an Uru Akhim member heading the 11-member concert committee.

"We all came to this country with the help of Federation and were resettled by its partner agencies – HIAS, Jewish Family and Children's Service, and Jewish Employment and Vocational Service," he continued. "Now it is time for a new attachment. This is the first time we are working with Federation for Jewish causes."

"It is wonderful the way the Russian Jewish community is giving back to the community," said Jeri Zimmerman, director of the Center for Israel and Overseas. "This is an ongoing relationship with a bright future that will benefit them, Federation and Israel. We commend Uru Akhim for holding this wonderful concert."

Yanovitsky, who arrived in Philadelphia with his parents, Larisa and Mark in 1991, began his musical studies with his mother and then attended the Leningrad Special Music School for gifted children and the Moscow Conservatory. Shortly after he arrived, he won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, a number of other national and international awards and scholarships for graduate studies at the Julliard School in New York. He earned a Doctoral Degree in Music from Temple University in 2002.

The pianist has performed in 33 states in this country, numerous European countries, and has made appearances with the Cape Town Symphony in South Africa, the Montevideo Symphony in Uruguay and the China Film Symphony Orchestra in Beijing. He will perform with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra in March 2007 at the Kimmel Center.

In addition to his concert tours, he's a professor of piano at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.

Sunday's concert will include the music of Mozart, Chopin, Brahms and Fanny Mendelssohn. Yanovitsky is a Steinway Artist. The concert grand piano for the event will be provided by Jacobs Music Co. Shaare Shamayim is donating the concert venue.

"We are excited about Mikhail coming back here, and helping us raise funds for Hatzolah," said Vadim Smolensky, a member of the concert committee. "Since I first heard him, I have followed his progress.

"The technical part of his performances have always been excellent," he continued. "But now, he is a deep artist who has his own face. Now, when I listen to him I hear an artist who knows the essence of the music, the intent of the composer. He is always brilliant and always wise – a perfectionist who shows the idea behind his art."

Added Smolensky: "Mikhail has his own original vision of the music."

Info? Call 215-947-5891.



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