Monday, September 30, 2019

Catching up with Notes for Nourishment happenings in USA

When you do not see new posts on our blog, that's not because nothing is happening - it's usually quite the opposite!
April, May and June were a whirlwind of nonstop production, performance and publicity tasks as was invited to launch an entire series of 14 Notes for Nourishment programs in Charleston, S.C. as part of the famed Piccolo Spoleto Festival there. All concerts at Piccolo Spoleto are held in churches, shops, and businesses throughout the city, and loyal concert goers come from around the globe for this festival each year.
The host venue for our 14 concerts was a wonderful event center and art gallery at the back of the Pauline Bookstore right on King Street, the most famous thoroughfare in historic old town! Fox Music, the largest piano store in the region, donated a 9 foot concert grand piano, local printers gave us discounts on the printing of color flyers and posters; other shops and business owners were program sponsors.
We flew in artists who had performed on Notes for Nourishment concerts in other locations over the past years to join me in various instrumental/vocal combinations and musical programs. Performers included Stephen Guggenheim (tenor), Winnie Wong (Chinese guzheng), Anna Maria Mendieta (harp), me (Donna Stoering), on piano, and three members of Levona - Asaf Ophir, Joshua Mellinger and David McLean. Together, these renowned performers represented the musical traditions of Israel, China, Europe, the Middle East, USA, Spain and Latin America.....and we also rejoiced in the participation of a locally-based but nationally known flautist,  Jessica Hull-Dambaugh.

As with all Notes for Nourishment events anywhere on the globe, the professional artists donated their performances, nourished their audiences with free one-hour programs that were open to all, and these 14 unique concerts raised thousands of dollars in funds (donations at the door) for a wide variety of Charleston-based nonprofit organizations, making a difference in the lives of hungry children, disabled Veterans, children with cancer (and their families), music/art therapy programs, homeless services and shelters, food-sustainability programs, and continued disaster relief for rebuilding efforts following hurricanes and flooding in low-lying regions.
We developed long-lasting relationships with the inspiring local founders of many national organizations and we had a tremendous time working with the bookstore owners/managers to turn their event room and art gallery into a beautifully intimate concert hall in a historic building with amazing acoustics (we discovered that it just happened to have been built, over 100 years ago, as the first music store in that region!).
An entire front page of a section of the main Sunday newspaper in Charleston was devoted to sharing the story of Listen for Life and its Notes for Nourishment series. And the concerts rapidly gained a wide following and a stellar reputation for "highest quality artists, performances, and unique programs" amongst all of the festival offerings, so we have been invited back for each future year of the festival! That is exciting for sure, but is already requiring a great amount of volunteer work to approach corporate sponsors, donors and potential partners in order for Listen for Life to financially sustain such an undertaking in the longterm. If you have time or skills to share, please join us!

This was the first time that Listen for Life has created a Notes for Nourishment series or mini-festival within an existing larger concert series or summer music festival, and it showed that there is tremendous potential for replicating that concept in many other locations across the USA and around the globe. We already have some possibilities lining up and several invites coming in, but we are excited to consider any and all locations/partnerships so do contact us! And if you are a professional musician who would like to perform in one of our series, next time, or create a N4N concert in your own location to raise funds for a cause you care about, please contact us!

Meanwhile, of course, our activities continued through the end of summer.....

  • we did our first LFL Notes for Nourishment concert in Atlanta, Georgia; 
  • we met with LFL volunteers and potential N4N concert organizers in Minnesota, California, and Utah; 
  • we met with the music director of a phenomenal peace-building summer camp for young people of the different warring factions in the Middle East (this is a program that our Notes for Nourishment concerts and LFL Rhythm for Refugee programs had helped to support financially this summer, so she was giving us a very moving report on the results and benefits of our work and your donations!) 
  • and we began organizing a brand new Notes for Nourishment Classical Guitar series for the 2019-2020 season in the historic chapel of Mission Dolores in San Francisco! 

Our first concert on that new series will take place on Sunday November 3, @ 5pm in Mission Dolores, as a major fundraising event for the Homeless Childrens' Network ( of San Francisco! The concert will feature Conor Padmanabhan and Emilia Diaz Delgado, two award-winning young guitarists, both students of Scott Cmiel in the pre-collegiate division of SFCM - and they will be joined by ensembles from the SFCM as well, so it promises to be a very special celebration of talented, generous young musicians helping other kids, their same ages, who just happen to be homeless.  

Our next posts will share the stories of Conor and Emilia and a bit about the Homeless Children's Network and their wonderful work, or that of the countless other nonprofits that we support -  and you can participate with us at any time, as a donor, concert attendee, performer or volunteer with our Notes for Nourishment programs, anywhere that you happen to live!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Today was the Opening Day at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC!  We had a successful concerts on our first day at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. And we have a fantastic line up ahead with FREE concerts every day! 

Concert Schedule:
Saturday, May 25th, 11 am
Donna Stoering presents “The Piano Can Dance?!” 
Rhythms of the world.

Saturday, May 25th, 7:30 pm
Harp & Flute Treasures from Latin America and beyond, featuring famed harp soloist Anna Maria Mendieta, with special guest Jessica Hull-Dambaugh, Principal Flutist of Charleston Symphony..

Sunday, May 26th, 2:00 pm
Sacred Music for Harp & Flute: Anna Maria Mendieta and Jessica Hull-Dambaugh
Sunday, May 26th, 3:15 pm
Winnie Wong tells the Story of the Guzheng and its many sounds colors

Sunday, May 26th, 7:30 pm
East meets West - Chinese guzheng (Winnie Wong) with European piano (Donna Stoering) in rarely performed virtuosic duets

Monday, May 27th, 11 am
“Oh la la” - French Melody in the Morning! Harpist Anna Maria Mendieta plays music from a variety of French-inspired

Monday, May 27th, 7:30 pm
Strings of Three Worlds: live on-stage improvisations combining Winnie Wong (guzheng), Anna Maria Mendieta (harp) and Donna Stoering (piano)

Tuesday, May 28th, 2 pm
A Siesta with Sizzle - Anna Maria Mendieta’s final program on the series, in styles ranging from Flamenco and tango to lullaby and reverie.

Wednesday, May 29, 1:30 pm
Donna Stoering presents The Piano Can Dance?! (repeats of May 25 above)

Wednesday, May 29th, 7:30 pm
Donna Stoering presents The Piano Can Dance?! (Repeats of May 25th)

Thursday, May 30th, 7:30 pm
From “the Old Country” to Broadway: internationally renowned tenor Stephen Guggenheim shares the fun journey of Jewish music, singing in 4 languages 

Thursday, May 31st, 2 pm
From “the Old Country” to Broadway: internationally renowned tenor Stephen Guggenheim shares the fun journey of Jewish music, singing in 4 languages.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Need a last-minute music treat for Mother's Day?

SUNDAY May 12 at 4pm is the next concert on Notes for Nourishment's monthly San Francisco series - 
Bring Mom and the entire family to a FREE concert featuring nationally renowned musicians
For our May 12 concert, cellist Emil Miland and organist Jerome Lenk are donating their time and talents as a gift of music for Mother's Day!
Optional donations will be collected, to benefit the St Vincent de Paul Society for the specific works that they do to nourish the hungry, homeless and hurting of the San Francisco community. 
Sunday, May 12, 4 p.m.
Jerome Lenk, organ  and  Emil Miland, cello
works of Rachmaninoff, Bach, Guilmant and Harrison 
Mission Dolores Basilica
16th and Dolores Sts.
San Francisco 

Host venue for all of our monthly cross-cultural concerts in San Francisco is the Mission Dolores Basilica - so before or after the one-hour family-friendly programs, enjoy the enclosed gardens of the Basilica or the nearby parks, with your friends and family. 
Each of our FREE concerts there and in all N4NConcerts locations, share different artists and instruments, from many cultures, styles and languages. We have had some wonderful concerts already featuring artists from Latin America, Mexico, Asia, Israel, Europe, and California - singing in Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Croatian, Italian, Hebrew, Ladino, Arabic, and English -  but we have missed seeing YOU there. 
Music is a UNIVERSAL Language! There is plenty of room in the Basilica, and the very professional, renowned artists donate their time and talents so that we can make these special events FREE for all to be able to attend. So take advantage of this great opportunity, and come be inspired and nourished by beautiful music from around the world on a Sunday afternoon, once a month.... 
The Notes for Nourishment series, sponsored by, is offering cross-cultural music to build and share community for ALL of San Francisco - so please come be a part of it! And if you can't make it on May 12, please plan to come to the next one in our San Francisco series, on June 9 (4pm, featuring Golden Gate Boy's Choir) .....
For more information on upcoming dates/artists, phone (510) 540 8136  

Sunday, March 3, 2019

A unique N4Nconcert of cross-cultural music & storytelling awaits you SUNDAY Mar 3!

Levoná !! It is happening, TODAY (Sunday March 3) at 4:00 -  join us @ Mission Dolores Basilica, 3321 16th St, San Francisco  - it's FREE! 

This latest in our San Francisco series of N4NConcerts features an exciting ensemble of five master musicians from Syria, Israel and the United States, offering a combination of music and storytelling from around the world! Want a sample video that will absolutely convince you to come?  Check this out:

Each of their performances is a cross-cultural celebration that combines music from around the world (flamenco, Klezmer, Middle Eastern styles, and more!) with the age-old tradition of storytelling.
The Levoná ensemble rose out of the highly acclaimed Bay Area musical “Love Sick”, winning the Theatre Bay Area Award for “Best Ensemble” along with the cast, in October 2017. The musical ensemble stayed together after the show and they continue to tour in both concert and dance venues, coming together to weave a rich tapestry of sounds that is at once a taste of the orient, and a new creation all on its own - the kind of energy that only comes when distant cultures overlap, and celebrate their differences.

The performers (with a brief quote from each of them) include:

David McLean, guitar    
       "I see both storytelling and acoustic music as important way of bringing people together"
Faisal Zedan,  percussion
       "I followed a path to create a life and community tyat revolves around the rhythm...."
Josh Mellinger, percussion
       "Music has been a way of life,  a river that takes me to wonderful places and amazing people."
Asaf Ophir, clarinet and nai 
      "I do very much believe that we all owe it to ourselves to climb up to a high place - not just once, but many times in our lives - and look around, and ask ourselves those big questions...."
Patrick Kelly,  double bass
      "..Music and language are the threads of culture that last through history"

For more info on the performers and the group, visit their website, at Levoná.org  
You can also follow them on FB, Twitter and Instagram. 

As with all Notes for Nourishment concerts, the performers today will donate their time and talents to nourish the audience and share their cultures, while donations are collected for a cause or nonprofit of their choosing – in this case, www.Rainn.Org

PLEASE come, and share this invite with everyone you know in the SF Bay Area, because their combination of cross-cultural music and storytelling will be a unique event for our N4NConcerts and we want to pack the house for them!

Friday, February 8, 2019

ARTS as SOCIAL ADVOCACY - a test case, LIVE, this weekend!

All of us at Listen for Life have long believed in music's potential as a powerful tool for conflict resolution and healing, but it can also be a potent advocate, inspirational stimulus and unifying catalyst for social change - not just healing and comforting those who need it, or doing concerts that raise funds to benefit the homeless, hurting or hungry of our communities - but also, where needed, making the comfortable UNcomfortable, even if in a message delivered through heart-achingly beautiful music. 

There are many debates about the success of the arts in social advocacy, but to experience this firsthand,  we strongly recommend you try to attend one of the concerts given by The Choral Project, the award-winning Silicon Valley-based choral ensemble, this weekend: February 9 at Mission Santa Clara and February 10 at Holy Cross Church, Santa Cruz.  
With this production, The Choral Project is partnering with three homeless advocacy groups: The Social Ministry Program at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph (San Jose), Winter Faith Collaborative at Grace Baptist Church (San Jose) and The Homeless Garden Project (Santa Cruz).  A portion of concert proceeds will be shared with these nonprofits.

The choral program is entitled "Art of Sound: Seeking a Home". The Choral Project’s Founder, Artistic Director and Conductor Daniel Hughes says, “Homelessness touches us all every day, and this program will strive to raise awareness around this challenging issue. The centerpiece will be David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion, which won the Pulitzer Prize in music. It is an intensely powerful and moving work based on the writings of Hans Christian Andersen and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.”

ART OF SOUND will also have repertoire about home and searching for safe haven, including (by popular request) a reprise performance of “Somewhere” from West Side Story, featuring movement and sign language by the singers.

 To purchase tickets visit:

WHEN:            Saturday February 9, 8 pm
                        Sunday, February 10, 5 pm
WHERE:          Mission Santa Clara • 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara (Feb 9)
                        Holy Cross Church • 126 High Street, Santa Cruz (Feb 10)
TICKETS:         General Admission: $25; Senior Admission: $20; Student/Alumni: $10
Tickets are available at

About The Choral Project
Celebrating 23 years of musical excellence, The Choral Project has developed an outstanding reputation for performing high-level choral literature. The award-winning ensemble has performed throughout the world in concert performances, receiving rave reviews and standing ovations. The San Jose Mercury News hailed the choir as "a Bay Area jewel," stating that "there is nothing subtle about why this is one of the best choirs you will ever hear." The Choral Project has received numerous awards in some of the world's most celebrated choral festivals, including first place (Choir's Choice category), second place (Required Pieces category), and third place (Folk Music category) at the 2007 California International Choral Competition; and second place (Mixed Choir) at the 58th annual International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. It has also recently presented sold-out joint concert performances with two of the world's most prestigious ensembles, Canadian Brass and King's Singers. For more information, visit

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Final performance TODAY, Feb 3 - and a bit about Philip Brezina, violinist of the Trio

Two down, one to go....don't miss our final performance of this exciting Trio Program on today's Notes for Nourishment (February 3rd) concert -
This performance will be @ 4pm sharp, hosted by Mission Dolores Basilica in San Francisco!

In a previous post on this Blog, we introduced one of the trio members, cellist Gabriel Beistline, sharing his bio and his answers to interview questions. We've decided that there is still time left, before our final concert, to introduce one more trio member: violinist Philip Brezina:

Philip Brezina started playing violin at age five, following the wisdom of the Suzuki program. He went on to do his undergraduate work with David Salness at The University of Maryland. While in Maryland, his quartet was selected to lead the inaugural chamber music outreach program; an idea designed to bring music education to under privileged youth, which Philip continues to do to this day. 
Philip now lives in San Francisco, where he received his Masters Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under Ian Swensen. He also works as a Bluegrass fiddler in "The Brothers Comatose", a very popular SF-based group that performs at major festivals and venues; he plays as a studio recording artist with the Magik Magik orchestra, performs as a soloist, and holds the position of principal second chair in The San Jose Chamber Orchestra. Phil is married and has two young sons, but manages to maintain an easy-going, fun-loving personality that makes rehearsals a joy, but also makes it difficult to sit him down for answering any serious interview questions - hence these very short answers:
  1. When did you start playing music? age 5
  2. Which artist(s) are you inspired by? Neil Young, Too Short, & violinist Gil Shaham 
  3. What is your favorite part about your career in music? The variety 
  4. What is one wish you have for the future of music? Travel and perform in Iran and Japan 
  5. What is a motto that you live/perform by? Don’t focus on mistakes- they don’t matter 
Phil and his wife chose the beneficiary for today's N4N Concert:  your donated funds will benefit scholarships and music programs for deserving students at Mission Dolores Academy. Like Gabriel Beistline and Donna Stoering, the other members of the trio, Philip Brezina is donating his time and tremendous talent to nourish the listeners while he hopes that you will be generous in donating funds to nourish nonprofit organizations that help others in the community. We hope that you and your friends can make it to hear Phil's gorgeous tone soar up to the dome of the Mission Dolores Basilica at 4pm today!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Seeking a Super Bowl party alternative this Sunday?

Are you BORED with Super Bowl parties?
Are you  BRAVE enough to come out in windy rainy weather?

If you answered YES to either of those questions, we can PROMISE you a much warmer, drier, and more exciting place to be this Sunday afternoon, if you're in the SF Bay Area!

Reminder: this weekend, we have two more performances of a very special piano trio program!

  • SATURDAY Feb 2, on a Groupmuse house concert in a SF neighborhood, gathering at 2:45pm.   See     A space reservation is required/requested.  Address and info is on that link, including a minimum donation amount requested per person
  • SUNDAY Feb 3, at 4pm sharp in the Mission Dolores Basilica3321 16th St, San Francisco   Free to the public; One of the concerts on our Notes for Nourishment series at the Basilica, so each concert is done as a fundraiser for a particular organization, need, or cause. Donations at this concert will be collected to benefit music programs and scholarships for Mission Dolores Academy. This nonprofit organization was chosen by Philip Brezina, the violinist performing in the trio. 
Why you don't want to miss this concert:
Our first performance of this piano trio program happened last Saturday, January 26, at a special Notes for Nourishment concert in Alameda. We had a great turn-out, an immediate standing ovation at the final note, and the trio was deluged by audience members afterwards saying how much they loved every single piece on the program, found the Mendelssohn the most joyous and technically mesmerizing piece they had ever seen in a live performance, and numerous folks asked if LFL would please release a CD recording of this program so they could hear it again. AND several of those in attendance said they are coming back again, this weekend, to hear and SEE it all performed a second time. 
A few comments we can share:
"I have never experienced anything like this in a concert - I am still floating above earth somewhere and don't really want to come down"
"I wish every family member and each person I care about, could hear this program. I believe it would change their lives"
"The energy in this room was spiritually and musically tangible, but also in a physical way - incredible....."
"I can't wait for next Sunday - I am coming back! But please, tell people they really really do not want to miss this"

Ok, done...... we tried! :) Hope to see you there!