In honor of International Refugee Day, June 20, 2017, we share with you the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s dedication to helping refugees as an example of their commitment to social responsibility.
The Philharmonic House for Asylum Seekers will open in the Fall of 2017 in St. Aegyd, Lower Austria, approximately 70 miles from Vienna. The Orchestra purchased and is renovating a former Inn with a donation from the Orchestra and resources from a crowd funding campaign. The House will serve as a house of integration, providing a home for 2-3 refugee families as they assimilate into their local community and serve as a place for cultural dialogue and a concert venue. Musical instruction will be offered to the occupants of the House, seminars and art exhibitions will be offered and concerts to benefit the families will be performed at the House. The care of the families will be managed by the Diakonie Refugee Commission.
The genesis of the idea for the House evolved from the Orchestra’s long standing commitment to social responsibility. Among other examples, they have given concerts in Tokyo to benefit areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and in 2015 played a benefit concert at the Vienna Konzerthaus led by conductor Christoph Eschenbach which raised over $180,000 US for refugee charities.
It was natural for the Orchestra to want to do more. The Orchestra’s Chairman, Andeas Grossbauer, commented ‘When we play an opera like Fidelio, for example, the singers are singing about freedom – it struck me when Europe had the refugee crisis in 2015, and we wanted to help. Two years later we and Diakonie Flüchtlingsdienst are happy that the house can be turned into an integration home. This helps the families that came here to be included into our society.
Conductor Eschenbach, who was orphaned during World War II and is a refugee himself, is one of several to share their passion for this project on the video the Orchestra created as part of their crowd funding appeal.