Guitarist and professor Kim Perlak '01MM received an alumniVentures grant in 2009-10 and wrote recently to tell YSM of the project's successful continuation. alumniVentures, the initiative supporting efforts to advance the cause of music, began in 2008-09 and has given three rounds of grants to YSM alumni.
Wrote Perlak, "My music history and performance students at Concordia University were so inspired to volunteer in my Yale grant project that I have created a series called Music-History-Service. This annual project will encourage both students and faculty to explore the history of the music they love, and through it, make a difference in the present."
Perlak's latest project, "Ben and I Play For Peace," has attracted national press. Three “Ben and I Play for Peace” concerts will take place on April 3, 2011 at 3 pm in Austin, Tex.; Denver, Colo.; and Sarasota, Fla. The concerts will present the world premiere of a work by Benjamin Verdery, a faculty member at the Yale School of Music. Proceeds will benefit a program called Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids.
Ben Werdegar, a 13-year-old guitarist from California, has pledged to raise $1 million in partnership with Brad Blauser (a CNN Hero) to purchase wheelchairs for disabled children in Iraq. Funds raised in the April events will add to Ben’s personal total of $19,000 – which he raised by playing at his neighborhood coffee shop in San Francisco.
Perlak conceived of "Ben and I Play for Peace" after meeting Werdegar at the 2010 Verdery Guitar Masterclass in Kihei, Maui.
Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids, headed by Brad Blauser, was created in 2005 at the request of United States servicemembers serving in Mosul, Iraq. The soldiers had watched children whose legs didn't work pulling themselves along the ground. Through this program, pediatric wheelchairs that normally retail for $3,500 can be manufactured and distributed to children in need at the cost of approximately $350. To date, 863 pediatric wheelchairs have been distributed.
More information on Perlak's activities can be found on her website.