Concerts keep late Issaquah girl’s charity wish alive

August 9, 2011

By Quinn Eddy

Local musicians from the Society of Emerging Artists will play a three-part music festival Aug. 12-14. Taking place at Daniels Recital Hall in Seattle, the performances will benefit Rachel Beckwith’s charity to bring clean water to African villagers.

Beckwith, 9, recently died from injuries she sustained in a 13-vehicle accident on Interstate 90. Prior to her June 12 birthday, Beckwith made it known that, instead of presents, her birthday wish was to raise money for Charity:Water. After her death, donations to Beckwith’s endeavor began to pour in.

“We chose this charity because the society emphasizes the power of youth,” said Erin Kim, director of press and media affairs for the society. “We thought it was a good way to emphasize the impact that young people have.”

The seed was sown for the Society of Emerging Artists when Korean-American violinist Kevin Lee was offered the baton during one of his eighth-grade orchestra classes. From that point on he knew music would be his life’s calling.

“It was electrifying,” said Kevin Lee, conductor and artistic director for the society.

Lee was further inspired by the annual performance of Mozart’s “Requiem” at Seattle’s St. James Cathedral, and started his own ensemble, the Eastside Project Chamber Orchestra.

If you go

Concerts to benefit Charity:Water

All concerts performed by the Society of Emerging Artists will be held at Daniels Recital Hall in Seattle at 7 p.m.

  • Friday, Aug. 12 — Classics concert
  • Saturday, Aug. 13 — Children’s concert
  • Sunday, Aug. 14 — Classics concert

Tickets will be sold at the door for a suggested donation of $5 to $10. All proceeds will go to Rachel Beckwith’s water charity.

How to help

  • Rachel Beckwith asked people to donate to Charity:Water as a birthday gift. Now, people can donate as a tribute to the late 9-year-girl..

“I love Kevin’s enthusiasm and his immersion in the music,” said Emmeran Pokorny, violin player.

Made up of about 30 volunteers, the group consisted of students in either high school or early college. It took Lee only three months to pull people together and practice before their first performance.

“Since we were all friends we grew together as a group,” Lee said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever again have that level of cohesiveness and sense of community.”

The group’s first performance took place at Issaquah’s Covenant Presbyterian Church. Proceeds from the concert went to The Food Bank at St. Mary’s.

“It went very well. We were a little nervous and intimidated because classical music tends to be performed and enjoyed by aficionados,” Lee said.

The group performed four concerts, all benefiting local charities. The last concert incorporated not only orchestral pieces, but also solos and choral works.

“We’ve raised thousands of dollars for food banks and scholarship funds,” Lee said. “Our first concert raised $200, but our last raised over $2,000.”

Other organizations benefiting from their concerts included the Issaquah Food Bank and Fostering Tunes, a branch of the Treehouse foster care organization, which is dedicated to providing foster children with a musical education.

Back in town for summer vacation from Columbia University in New York, Lee’s next project is the creation of a new group, the Society of Emerging Artists.

“Our goal is to expose classical music and show that it’s something that everyone can love and that it applies to everyone,” Kim said. “It’s not just for older people.”

Manifesting from the Eastside Project Chamber Orchestra, the new group has many of the same members and builds on past lessons learned.

“We’re being much more ambitious and we have much better musicians,” said Erin Hoffman, administrative director for the society. “Concerts will be bigger and we’re doing more of them.”

According to Lee, people don’t see how the sound tells a story.

“Just because its old doesn’t mean it’s outdated,” Hoffman said. “There are universal themes that people don’t generally see and our goal is to show people these voices.”

For this new endeavor, Lee spent time selecting leadership.

“We handpicked student leaders based on their responsibility, reliability, ability to inspire others and their self initiative,” Lee said. “These are all people I can trust with the music.”

The society’s upcoming music festival will carry with it a theme of voices and will focus on the connection between music and storytelling.

“I think I’ll definitely be ready for the festival,” said cello player Michael Su. “The level of playing is very advanced and there’s a lot of originality through the way Kevin conducts.”

The festival will be presented in a three-part concert series and will take place over the course of a weekend.

The first concert will feature large orchestral works. The traditional repertoire will emphasize the cultural and historical contexts surrounding the works performed, which will include works by Bach and Elgar.

“Our goal is to play the music the way the composer intended,” Lee said.

The second concert will be a children’s concert with a focus on inspiring the next generation of musicians. Rather than being performed by a full orchestra, it will feature one person per instrumental part to make for a more personal concert experience. The concert will feature pieces such as the “Carnival of the Animals” and “Brandenburg Concerto No. 6.” Younger soloists will be invited to perform.

The final concert will explore stories told through music. Orchestral works performed at the final concert will include pieces from Strauss and Dvorak. The idea behind the concert is to demonstrate how voices throughout have universal messages still relevant in today’s world.

Quinn Eddy: 392-6434 or Comment at

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One Response to “Concerts keep late Issaquah girl’s charity wish alive”

  1. Clare Shin on August 15th, 2011 1:24 am

    Great job in all 3 performances of Elgar, Strauss and Dvorak. Especially on the Nimrod. $1260 raised in total! Congratulations, SEA.

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