Musical instruments can hold memory and meaning for many, and parting with one can be quite an emotional process--whether it’s an owner simply upgrading, or one who is donating an instrument his or her late parent once played.
“We understood that quickly, and from the beginning,” explains Music Fund founder Lukas Pairon. “Each time a person donates an instrument, he or she gets a receipt and a thank you note, but we also give each instrument a code, allowing people to contact us later to find out where their instrument has gone specifically.”
Former owners enjoy taking “imaginary trips”, Pairon adds, as they imagine the journey their instruments have taken, the children now playing them. Some donors even put notes for future owners inside the instrument cases.
Since its creation in 2005, over 9,900 instruments have been donated through Music Fund, but repair work is also one of the most important activities for the association. “We want to be sure that the instruments are in perfect condition, so they're checked and repaired where necessary, even though we do ask people who donate instruments to make sure that they're in the best possible state so that we don't have too much work or costs,” Pairon says. In fact, nearly 5,000 instruments have been repaired and given away with the help of workshops in partner countries and dozens of trained repair technicians. In Luxembourg, the association is working with Vianden-based luthier Didac Zerrouk, for example.
The instruments are then usually container-shipped through the help of sponsors to the countries where Music Fund is active. For the 3 October collection, the instruments will be heading to the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Bethlehem and the Al Kamandjati school in Jenin--although the association has also collected for Israel, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Morocco, Haiti, Mozambique and elsewhere.
Pairon says he has met many individuals who are “very worried about what’s going on in the Middle East, in terms of conflict and trying to also give support to projects with kids in the Palestinian territories.” At the same time, however, he adds that Music Fund has “many friends in Israel”, which he calls a “great place for music and also their technicians.”
Pairon adds, “I’m personally not in favour of the cultural and academic boycott of Israel… Especially in the arts, and especially in the academic world, we very much believe in reaching dialogue and creating bridges”.
As a result of his cultural activism, Pairon in 2018 received the “Commander in the Order of the Crown” title by the King of Belgium.
For more info
In advance of the instrument collection, Pairon will give a presentation on his initiative the evening of 23 September starting at 6pm at House 17.
Those interested in donating an instrument (string and wind instruments preferred) can drop by Neimënster on Sunday, 3 October, between 10:30am-7pm. Harmoniums and organs are not accepted. For questions about other large instruments, it is best to contact Music Fund directly. Throughout the day, there will also be mini concerts and other festivities taking place, with the full programme to be available on the CPJPO and Music Fund sites.