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"Music Feeds Us" Returns to Benefit Local Food Bank

You don’t often talk about classical music and canned food in the same sentence.But a group of young musicians is presenting their fourth annual series of concerts around the Charlottesville-Staunton area next week to help fight hunger in the Blue Ridge region. WMRA’s Jessie Knadler has the story.

One in ten people in the Blue Ridge don’t know where their next meal comes from; four in ten of these are children.

A group of classical musicians – all professionals, all in their 20s -- seeks to close this gap while exposing future generations to the beauty of classical music.

This month marks the fourth year they’ll be performing a small concert tour called Music Feeds Us in which audience members, instead of purchasing tickets, are asked to make either a monetary or canned food donation to benefit the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

Since its inception in 2012, Music Feeds Us has raised the equivalent of more than 44,000 meals for those in need. The goal for this year, says spokesperson Cordelia Gary, is to reach a total of 100,000 meals.

CORDELIA GARY: It was Beethoven who said, music can change the world. And bridging our Music Feeds Us concerts with hunger awareness and hunger relief has definitely changed lives here in the Blue Ridge area.

Music Feeds Us was cofounded by Cordelia Gary’s son, violist Fitz Gary, age 25 from Charlottesville. He holds a Masters degree from Juilliard and accepted a Fulbright scholarship to study music in Germany where he currently lives.

A big takeaway from Fitz’s time at Juilliard is the impact that artists can have on human values. He came away from the school not just wanting to play the viola professionally -- he currently plays with a prestigious orchestra in Hamburg -- but to perform for social change.

The first of three performances will be at Staunton Trinity Episcopal Church on April 22. From there, the quartet moves to Charlottesville, then Covesville, with stops at two elementary schools and one Girls and Boys club along the way.

Jessie Knadler is the editor and co-founder of Shen Valley Magazine, a quarterly print publication that highlights the entrepreneurial energy of the Shenandoah Valley. She has been reporting off and on for WMRA, and occasionally for National Public Radio, since 2015. Her articles and reporting have appeared everywhere from The Wall Street Journal to Real Simple to The Daily Beast. She is the author of two books, including Rurally Screwed (Berkley), inspired by her popular personal blog of the same name, which she wrote for six years. In her spare time, she teaches Pilates reformer, and is the owner of the equipment-based Pilates studio Speakeasy Pilates in Lexington. She is mom to two incredible daughters, June and Katie. IG: @shenvalleymag