Music for Life International to Present MAHLER FOR VISION at Carnegie Hall

By: Jan. 11, 2017
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Music For Life International continues its decade-long tradition of global humanitarian concerts at Carnegie Hall by presenting Mahler For Vision, a benefit concert of Gustav Mahler's monumental Second Symphony "Resurrection" on Monday, February 13, 2017 at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage.

The concert aims to promote the restoration of vision to millions around the world affected by treatable cataract blindness on the most prestigious concert stage in the world. The net proceeds of Mahler For Vision will benefit HelpMeSee's unique efforts to end preventable cataract blindness and to preserve and enrich the dignity of those affected through the innovative use of cutting-edge technology and transformative socio-economic models for distributing these critical public health services.

The performance (the only performance of Mahler's Second Symphony at Carnegie Hall during the 2016-17 season) is the culmination of the Music For Vision series of concerts in the Netherlands and Mumbai and Delhi, India, which has highlighted the issue of cataract blindness on three continents. The performance will be conducted by Singapore-born, Indian conductor and Music For Life Artistic Director, George Mathew, and will feature renowned American violinist, Elmira Darvarova (the first woman ever to serve as Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York); distinguished soprano Indra Thomas; and mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, a familiar voice to New York audiences from more than thirty years of iconic performances at the Metropolitan Opera and the concert stage.

Mahler For Vision will bring together many of the world's finest orchestral musicians. Principal artists will gather from the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, MET Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Buffalo Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Baton Rouge Symphony as well as their colleagues from other international orchestras and ensembles; faculty and students of the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Curtis Institute, and other major music academies. The Choir will include members of one of New York's iconic choral ensembles, MasterVoices, Ted Sperling, Artistic Director.

Mahler's epic "Resurrection" Symphony speaks to universal themes of searching for meaning within the human condition, of trying to make sense of suffering and death, and a gradual progression to acceptance and then to hope that there is still more to the human story.

Music For Life Artistic Director George Mathew noted, "The music has uncanny resonances to the cause and the mission of the concert. The first three movements of the Resurrection Symphony paint a picture of the communities affected, the loss and collapse of human potential caused by a problem like cataract blindness, and the distortion and strangeness of life when a critical sense like vision is affected.

"Then in the fourth movement the miracle happens! The human voice appears! And we hear with shocking simplicity and transparency - the human cry of deep, personal yearning - the longing for light - for vision. In the giant finale, Mahler much like Beethoven in the 9th (and HelpMeSee with its mission) ensures that this aching longing is not just remembered, but is amplified, intensified and 'scaled' (to use the social sector term) to create a vast community of people (voices) and technology (instruments) to bring that longing to its destination of fulfillment -- a transformed future of health, life and contribution."

HelpMeSee's uniquely innovative approach enables far more than the restoration of vision. The individuals, families and communities served by HelpMeSee's cataract surgeries are enabled and empowered to become newly-minted participants and contributors in the larger socio-economic marketplace, an opportunity which many were denied, often for generations. HelpMeSee's approach to the problem through the enhanced and accelerated training of cataract specialists using new technologies at the junction of aviation technology, surgical instrument production and powerfully improved standards of safety will ensure that it is new life, dignity, empowerment and economic justice in addition to light that will pass through that little lens that restores vision to millions.

HelpMeSee President and CEO Jacob Mohan Thazhathu observed, "Mahler for Vision exemplifies HELPMESEE's mission to eliminate cataract blindness and transform lives through innovative and expansive global alliances."

About Music for Life International - - Music for Life International, (MFLI) is a New York based social enterprise that was established to create social impact in a variety of sectors through music. MFLI presents musical concerts and other programs to promote the awareness of major international humanitarian crises and other public interest issues around the world. MFLI takes its name from the legendary MUSIC FOR LIFE concert organized by Leonard Bernstein for those affected by HIV/AIDS in 1987 at Carnegie Hall. MFLI is a registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization. MFLI's global humanitarian concerts have included Beethoven's Ninth for South Asia (2006), REQUIEM FOR DARFUR (2007), Mahler for the Children of AIDS (2009), Beethoven for the Indus Valley (2011), Shostakovich for the Children of Syria (2014) and The Scheherazade Initiative (2015), focusing on gender violence. These concerts, presented in Carnegie Hall, have brought together distinguished musicians from over 100 leading international ensembles including the New York Philharmonic, MET Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, San Francisco Symphony and others.

The concerts have received major global coverage in the BBC WORLD TV and Radio, CNN International, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, Radio France, Voice of America, NY1 TV, National Public Radio, the Indian Express, The Hindu, the Pakistan Daily Times, and Musical America. The New York Times called Music For Life International's recent humanitarian concert, Shostakovich For the Children of Syria, a performance which "will live in the memory for having been being part of its time as well as part of Shostakovich's."

MFLI's collaborations have included Doctors Without Borders, Refugees International, Acumen Fund, American Pakistan Foundation, American Jewish World Service, Catholic Medical Mission Board, Questscope, Tufts University Institute for Global Leadership, and United Nations agencies such as UNICEF, UNDP, UN Women, and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

In recent years, MFLI's activities have expanded beyond New York and Carnegie Hall to include performances in the Netherlands, Panama, Jordan, Washington DC, Mumbai and New Delhi, India. SHOSTAKOVICH FOR THE CHILDREN OF SYRIA at Carnegie Hall in January 2014, resulted in a weeklong residency of performances and education workshops at Za'atari Syrian Refugee Camp in Jordan by a distinguished group of artists from the MET Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, New World Symphony, and Jordanian National Symphony.

About HelpMeSee - - HelpMeSee is a non-profit social enterprise committed to ending the global health crisis of cataract blindness, the leading cause of preventable blindness which impacts over 20 million people worldwide. By developing the world's first comprehensive Eye Surgical Simulator to provide training to address the critical shortage of skilled cataract specialists, HelpMeSee is building local capacity and bringing affordable and high-quality care to under-served markets.

HelpMeSee's comprehensive solution to cataract blindness includes surgical training, patient outreach, and support for sight-restoring cataract procedures that standardize the quality of care, medical supply chain, and evaluation practices to ensure safe surgeries. Since founding in 2010, HelpMeSee partnered with 290 partner surgeons across 10 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and supported over 250,000 surgeries.

Forbes, Bloomberg News, Voice of America, Vision Monday, All India Radio, and Philanthropy News Digest are among the news media which have featured HelpMeSee.

Featured Artists:

George Mathew, Artistic Director/Conductor

Singapore-born Indian conductor George Mathew, founder and Artistic Director of MUSIC FOR LIFE INTERNATIONAL and the UBUNTU-SHRUTI Orchestra, has emerged as one of the leading forces in the classical music world bringing symphonic music to focus on global humanitarian issues and crises at the beginning of the 21st Century. In recent seasons, he has made appearances in the US, India, Jordan, Panama, Morocco, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Africa as conductor and ambassador for transformative action through music. Mahler For Vision is Music For Life International and Mr. Mathew's seventh global humanitarian concert project in a decade.

Mr. Mathew is a thought leader and has spoken on music and social impact around the world at such venues as the TEDx and INK conferences, UNDP, UNICEF, Asian Venture Philanthropy Network, in Singapore, Amman, Marrakech, Bangalore and Panama City. He also delivered the 2011 S.T. Lee Distinguished Lecture on Social Justice and Public Policy at Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg. He appears as commentator in "Following The Ninth" an exciting new documentary film on Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Mr. Mathew is an alumnus of Rishi Valley School, Amherst College, the University of Minnesota and the Manhattan School of Music. In February 2016, Mr. Mathew and Music For Life International were honored with the 2016 Robert and JoAnn Bendetson Award for Public Diplomacy from the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University, for their services to global public diplomacy through music. Learn more about George Mathew at

Elmira Darvarova, Concertmaster and Solo Violin

Elmira Darvarova, a concert violinist since the age of four, and a Grammy-nominated recording artist, caused a sensation by becoming the first ever (and so far only) woman-concertmaster in the history of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She has also led, as concertmaster, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Columbus Symphony, and the Grant Park Symphony in Chicago, as well as the Music for Life International Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. She can be heard on numerous CDs (recent releases include the world premiere of Vernon Duke's Violin Concerto with the ORF Vienna Radio Orchestra, and a disc with world premiere chamber music works by René de Castéra, which was named a RECORDING OF THE YEAR 2015 by Music-Web International). She has appeared at prestigious venues on five continents, and has performed concertos with numerous European and American orchestras. She is President and Artistic Director of the New York Chamber Music Festival and performs with the New York Piano Quartet, the Otero-Darvarova Duo, the Amram Ensemble, the Delphinium Trio and the Quinteto del Fuego. She has collaborated for chamber music projects with legendary musicians, such as James Levine, Janos Starker, Gary Karr, Pascal Rogé, David Amram, among others, including the superstars of Indian classical music - the sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and his two sons. Learn more at

Indra Thomas, Soprano

Of Indra Thomas' performance as Imogene in Il Pirata at the Caramoor Festival, The New York Times wrote: "The mad scene was a triumph, especially its reflective first half in which Ms. Thomas' affinity for long-spun, slow melodic phrases was impressive. The audience awarded her a tremendous ovation." Considered one of the foremost Aidas in the world today, Ms. Thomas sang this role at the Chorégies, d'Orange in a performance that was televised throughout France during the summer of 2011. For the 2011/12 season, she performed in concerts with the Rome Symphony Orchestra (Georgia), and at the Atlanta Music Festival. Further performances this season will be Aida at the Hamburgische Staatsoper, and a performance of Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Florida Orchestra under the direction of Stefan Sanderling. Ms. Thomas also sang at the memorial service for Maestro Dino Anagnost, music director of The Little Orchestra Society of New York, last December, and in the New Year's Eve Concert for Peace at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where she performed Sir Michael Tippett's A Child of Our Time. Learn more at

Susanne Mentzer, Mezzo-Soprano

American mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer has had a highly respected operatic, concert, and chamber music career of over 30 years. Known for her interpretation of Mozart, Mahler, Strauss and Berlioz, she has appeared on four continents at nearly every great opera house and orchestra, notably as a guest artist at the Metropolitan Opera since 1989. Ms. Mentzer appears this season at the MET as Marcellina in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro.

Her discography includes over 25 CDs and DVDs. Susanne has also appeared on numerous PBS telecasts and in the Met's HD Cinema broadcasts. As a writer, she contributes regularly to the Huffington Post. This led to her receiving the 2013 VERA Award (Voice Education Research Awareness) from The Voice Foundation. In October 2014 she wrote of her own experience with domestic violence, something she had kept hidden for 34 years. She previously appeared with Music for Life International at Carnegie Hall at the Scheherazade Initiative in 2015 and in Mahler's Third Symphony in 2009.

A mentor to young singers, she serves on the boards of The Sullivan Foundation and The George London Foundation. Susanne resides in California where she teaches privately in the San Francisco area. She previously taught for twelve years in academia at DePaul University and Rice University. Read more about Susanne at

Ted Sperling, Artistic Director, MasterVoices

Ted Sperling has maintained an active and successful career in the theater and concert worlds for over thirty years. A multi-faceted artist, he is a director, music director, conductor, orchestrator, singer, pianist, violinist and violist. He is the Artistic Director of MasterVoices (formerly the Collegiate Chorale) and Principal Conductor of the Westchester Philharmonic.

Mr. Sperling won the 2005 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his orchestrations of The Light in the Piazza, for which he was also music director. Mr. Sperling was also an original cast member of the Broadway musical Titanic, playing bandleader Wallace Hartley. Mr. Sperling's work as a stage director includes the world premieres of five musicals: Red Eye of Love, The Other Josh Cohen, See What I Wanna See, Charlotte: Life? Or Theater? and Striking 12, as well as a revival of Lady in the Dark. He has conducted the scores for the films The Manchurian Candidate and Everything Is Illuminated, and directed the short film, Love Mom, starring Tonya Pinkins, which has been shown in five international festivals.

Mr. Sperling has an active concert career, working with many major symphony orchestras. He has conducted multiple concerts with the New York Philharmonic, for Live at Lincoln Center, the American Songbook Series at Lincoln Center and the Lyrics and Lyricists series at the 92nd Street Y. Mr. Sperling's television appearances include many Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts, as well as a Saturday Night Live Christmas show with Michael Bublé. Mr. Sperling received the 2006 Ted Shen Family Foundation Award for leadership in the musical theater, is a consultant to The Public Theater, and is Creative Director of the 24-Hour Musicals. Learn more at


MasterVoices is a New York City-based performing arts organization that celebrates singing and the art of musical storytelling. Founded as The Collegiate Chorale 75 years ago by legendary conductor Robert Shaw, the organization is one of the jewels of NYC cultural institutions, and has achieved international acclaim as well. Recent performances at Carnegie Hall and at Lincoln Center have included Ricky Ian Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath, Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, Boito's Mefistofele, Eric Idle's Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy), and many of the great choral works, including Brahms' Requiem, Tippett's A Child of Our Time, Mahler's 8th Symphony, Glass' Koyaanisqatsi, and the Verdi Requiem. In August 2015, we took the new name MasterVoices to better represent who we are: a performing arts organization that celebrates storytelling through the masterful voices of our chorus and world-class soloists, and the creative voices of composers, librettists, designers, and directors. Some of the solo artists who have sung with us recently include Stephanie Blythe, Victoria Clark, Nathan Gunn, Kelli O'Hara, Eric Idle, Eric Owens, Bryn Terfel, and Deborah Voigt. We are also pleased to work regularly with Orchestra of St. Luke's.

Under the artistic direction of Ted Sperling, MasterVoices celebrates its 75th Anniversary in 2016-17. We look forward to presenting New York audiences with a season that honors our history of exceptional music-making, continuing our tradition of presenting a broad range of repertoire, from opera to choral classics to musical theatre.

The Mahler for Vision Orchestra is comprised of principal musicians from the following ensembles and institutions:

New York Philharmonic
Berlin Philharmonic
MET Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Minnesota Orchestra
Buffalo Philharmonic
Orchestra of St. Luke's
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
American Composers Orchestra
American Symphony Orchestra
American Ballet Theatre Orchestra
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
Westchester Philharmonic
Colorado Symphony Orchestra
Miami Symphony Orchestra
Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra
Orchestra in C
Albany Symphony Orchestra
New Haven Symphony Orchestra
Saito Kinen Orchestra
Knights Chamber Orchestra
New York Youth Symphony
Chamber Orchestra of New York
West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
Genghis Barbie
Stiletto Brass Quintet
Shattered Glass Ensemble
The Juilliard School
Manhattan School of Music
The Curtis Institute
Yale School of Music
Amherst College
Columbia University and others

Key Personnel in the MAHLER FOR VISION Orchestra:

Elmira Darvarova, Former Concertmaster, MET Orchestra
Eva Gruesser-Smith, Concertmaster, American Composers Orchestra
Dennis Kim, Concertmaster, Buffalo Philharmonic
Daniel Andai, Concertmaster, Miami Symphony Orchestra
Lin He, Associate Concertmaster, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra
Funda Cizmecioglu, Principal Second Violin, Albany Symphony Orchestra
Mary Ann Mumm, Former Violin, MET Orchestra,
Wilfried Strehle, Former PrincipAl Viola, Berlin Philharmonic
Louise Schulman, PrincipAl Viola, Orchestra of St. Luke's
Craig Mumm, Associate PrincipAl Viola, MET Orchestra
Ronald Carbone, Former PrincipAl Viola, American Ballet Theater Orchestra
Elzbieta Weyman, Assistant PrincipAl Viola, New Jersey Symphony
Vivek Kamath, Viola, New York Philharmonic
Alan Stepansky, Former Associate Principal Cello, New York Philharmonic
Timothy Cobb, Principal Bass, New York Philharmonic
Peter Lloyd, Former Bass, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Former Principal Bass, Minnesota Orchestra
JorDan Frazier, Principal Bass, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Andrew Trombley, Principal Bass, New Haven Symphony Orchestra
Robert Langevin, Principal Flute, New York Philharmonic
Richard Woodhams, Principal Oboe, The Philadelphia Orchestra
Henry Ward, Principal Oboe, Buffalo Philharmonic
Charles Neidich, Clarinet, New York Woodwind Quintet, Distinguished Professor at Juilliard and Aaron Copland School of Music, Former Principal Clarinet, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Kim Laskowski, Associate Principal Bassoon, New York Philharmonic
Glenn Einschlag, Principal Bassoon, Buffalo Philharmonic
Leelanee Sterrett, Third Horn, New York Philharmonic
Julie Landsman, Former Principal Horn, MET Orchestra; French Horn, Orpheus
Howard Wall, Fourth Horn, New York Philharmonic
Julia Pilant, Assistant Principal Horn, MET Orchestra
Anne Scharer, French Horn, MET Orchestra
Colin Williams, Associate Principal Trombone, New York Philharmonic
Nicole Abissi, Former Acting Principal Trombone, Colorado Symphony Orchestra
David Finlayson, Trombone, New York Philharmonic
George Curran, Bass Trombone, New York Philharmonic
Alan Baer, Principal Tuba, New York Philharmonic
Barry Centanni, Principal Percussion, Orchestra of St. Luke's


Members of MasterVoices - Ted Sperling, Artistic Director

Honorary Advisory Board:

Charles P. Balducci
Wealth Management Advisor
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Alexander Bernstein
President, Leonard Bernstein Family Foundation

Catherine Cahill
President & CEO
Mann Center for the Performing Arts

Elmira Darvarova
Former Concertmaster
MET Orchestra

Beau Delafield
Vice President
Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Dr. Jack Dodick, M.D.
Professor and Chairman
Department of Ophthalmology
NYU School of Medicine

Dr. Aaron Dworkin
Dean, School of Music, Theater and Dance, University of Michigan
Member, National Council of the Arts
Founder President, Sphinx Organization

Jan Egeland
Secretary-General, Norwegian Refugee Council
Former UN UnderSecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs

JoAnn Falletta
Music Director
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Virginia Symphony Orchestra

Kenneth Gazzola
President and CEO, FlightLogix Inc.

Karel van Gelder
Manager of Technology Aerospace Testing
MOOG-FCS in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amjad Ali Khan
Sarod Maestro and Composer
HelpMeSee Global Goodwill Ambassador

Ambassador Vijay Nambiar
UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Myanmar
Former Chef de Cabinet to the UN Secretary-General

Robert Miles
International Keynote Speaker and Author
Warren Buffett Scholar, Berkshire Hathaway Authority

John Jeffrey Mullen
Member of Board of Directors
HelpMeSee, Inc.

Sir Roger Norrington
Former Conductor, Zurich Chamber Orchestra
President, London Philharmonic Choir

Jacob Mohan Thazhathu
President and CEO
HelpMeSee Inc.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town
Elder Emeritus, The Elders

Anne Lee Ueltschi

James Tyler Ueltschi
Co-founder, Chairman, and Treasurer
HelpMeSee, Inc.

Robert W. van Zwieten
President & CEO,
Emerging Markets Private Equity Association
Chairman, Music For Life International