Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim and Christoph Eschenbach back the orchestra’s campaign to house homeless refugees.

As tensions over the Syrian refugee crisis continue to escalate across Europe, one of the the world’s great orchestras has offered a ray of humanitarian hope. A month ago the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra purchased a disused house in St. Aegyd, Lower Austria for the purpose of housing homeless refugees. The ‘Vienna Philharmonic House’ is the brainchild of the orchestra’s clarinetist Norbert Täubl, who was born in the village. The old inn is large enough to support four families, and will also serve as a meeting place for cultural dialogue and benefit concerts. Chairman Andrew Großhauer said, “With this project we not only send a signal of humanitarian commitment, but also open a space for dialogue and understanding which everyone benefits long term, the community and also our society”.

The plight of Syrian refugees migrating to Europe is an issue close to the hearts of many of the musicians in the Vienna Philharmonic. Around 40 members of the orchestra come from migrant backgrounds and 20 do not possess an Austrian passport. The orchestra is made up of different nationalities, cultural backgrounds and experiences, “but we love music” their website reads. “We are made up of many different voices but we resonate together. We have music to follow, scores and conductors. We have a voice in society and a shared desire to help others.”

They’re now calling on the public to join them. A Crowdfunding campaign has been started in support of the House and the DIAKONIE Refugee Service, who will look after the building after its renovation. Donations above 20 Euros will receive gifts as a thank you, from a recording of Sommernachtkonzert Schönbrunn 2015 to a standing room ticket at the New Year’s Concert with interval refreshments.

The pioneering charity drive has attracted the support of some of the world’s top classical musicians, among them Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach and Sir Simon Rattle. “This is a really extraordinary time in European history,” says Sir Simon. “Here is a house where people can be looked after, where they can be taught the language, where they can be given these first signposts to the new life.”

Contribute to the Vienna Philharmonic Refugee House crowdfund here.

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