The Social Value of Our Talents

When Jorge Gomez-Tejada was organizing what he believed would be his final concert in the United States, it began as a fairly simple idea–dedicate the performance to José Carreras’ International Leukemia Foundation. The senior at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington felt very strongly about the project, having lost family members to the disease. In notifying the organization’s offices in Barcelona of the upcoming concert, however, Gomez-Tejada found the concert taking on a life of its own.

“Antonio Garcia-Prat, the manager of the foundation, liked the idea and put me in touch with the American chapter of the foundation in Seattle. Then the idea of a benefit instead of a simple dedication occurred to me, so I proposed it to them and they liked it. The foundation told me that it was impossible for them to organize a concert for me in North Carolina, so I went to my professors and they liked the idea as well. From my voice teacher to the chancellor of the university, every one of them loved the idea, and were 100 percent supportive all the time, to the point that the university ran with all the expenses of the organization and publicity. So on December 10, 1997, we had five soloists, three choirs and two pianists performing all for free, with the satisfaction of knowing that they were contributing to a very noble cause.”

The concert raised nearly $2,000 for the Carreras Foundation, presented by the UNCW provost to the secretary of the board of directors on January 30, 1998. The proceeds will be used to fund research, and to develop programs informing people of the importance of bone marrow donations.

Gomez-Tejada went on to say, “I think it was a very valuable experience for all of us, and that the foundation really appreciated what we did (even though the tenth part of a concert sung by José gives them more money). For me, it was one of the most exciting moments of my undergraduate life. Sometimes we forget that everything has a social value, even our talents, and the more we can use them to help others, the better we are not just as performers, but as people.”

Emily Brunson

Soprano Emily Brunson was senior editor for Classical Singer from 1998-99.