Avik Sarkar '19 Hosts Benefit Concert

In an inspiring display of both his musical talents and his humanitarian disposition, Avik Sarkar '19 organized a benefit concert to raise funds for Boston-area refugees.

The stirring event, which Avik called Connecting Through Music, raised over $5,000 for the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights. The proceeds came from a GoFundMe site, ticket sales, and a bake sale that his friends, galvanized by Avik's mission, held at BB&N.

Last May, Avik received an Arts Leadership Grant, which enabled him to bring to life his vision of a benefit concert. He has worked for two years with the Center for the Development of Arts Leaders, a division of From the Top, a national organization promoting young musicians.

Avik credits his grandmother, a refugee from Bangladesh, for rousing his interest in the plight of refugees and immigrants. "Often these issues feel remote," he says, "but they're not."

In an effort to honor refugee narratives, Avik composed a piece for string quartet and taped voices for the concert. In From Voices, he explains, "I set to music interviews with refugees and immigrants in the hopes of—even in a small way—giving them a space for their voices."

The concert, held January 19 at the First Church in Cambridge, also featured Middle Eastern music. Among others, the renowned Layaali Ensemble played Arabic music, and Avik himself performed a piano piece by Turkish composer Fazil Say.

A student of composition and piano at the New England Conservatory, where he also plays cello in the orchestra, Avik has won numerous awards at the national and international levels for his compositions and for his performances at piano competitions. To be sure, this is not the last we've heard from him.

(Written and photographed by Sharon Krauss, Upper School English Department)