On 10 and 11 June 2017, Joyce DiDonato joined El Sistema Greece and resident ensemble Il pomo d’oro for masterclasses and performances at Skaramagkas and Eleonas refugee camps close to Athens.
Joyce – a patron of El Sistema Greece – also led an open rehearsal at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center on Saturday evening, which saw more than 120 refugee children participate in a joint rendition of the Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen.
A fierce champion for music in a variety of social and educational contexts, Joyce has long been engaged in causes which promote the vital need for music education to be accessible to all, as well as the need for prison reform, with her work including frequent visits to the high-security correctional facility at Sing Sing in upstate New York.
Joyce’s activities in Greece came at the end of the hugely successful European leg of her In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music tour, through which she asked audiences: “In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?”.
“The privilege of sharing music with the children in these refugee camps and to learn from THEM was a highlight of my life. Children have so much to offer in terms of imagination and curiosity and expression, that the chance to encourage them, share with them, and join in singing and dancing with their voices was be one of the great joys of my life. Every single child deserves the right to express themselves and to experience the joy of music ~ this is my greatest wish, that joy can be found together in these musical exchanges.”
Main photo credit: Angel Ballesteros