Good Morning America Features Story About Belhaven Alum

Jocelyn Zhu GMA 11, 2018 (New York) - Belhaven alumna and Juilliard graduate Jocelyn Zhu '13 sat down with ABC’s Good Morning America to talk about how she and fellow Juilliard violinist Mariella Haubs are using music to transform and inspire lives.

Instead of performing in prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall, the expert violinists are traveling halfway around the world to play for refugees.

Jocelyn Zhu GMA

They have already performed at refugee camps across 25 countries in Europe, with later dates in Germany, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, New Zealand, Japan, and Philippines.

Refugees are usually on the receiving end of racial discrimination. Cultures tend to clash within the refugee camps, and disunity and unrest are the result. Through this turmoil, Zhu and Haubs saw the potential of music to unite. They believe music can connect cultures and break down racial and social barriers. They created the non-profit Concerts for Compassion to both inspire refugees through performances and encourage through stories about composers, many who were refugees themselves and struggled with similar adversity and still triumphed.

Zhu said, “We want to share compassion, spread truth, break boundaries, and let people know that in the end, how we all experience and react to great beauty and art remains the same, indicative of a common trait shared by all. We believe that what is pleasing to the eye and ear also has the enormous capability to change hearts.”

Each concert features the music of artists who faced adversity of all kinds - racial, social, and political. “Beyond actual music, we share stories,” said Haubs. “Stories of how composers and artists reacted through music. Sharing the stories and work of artists who faced hardships of all kinds, we illustrate the threads of humanity that exist through all cultures.”

The repertoire for their European tour included master works from composers Leclair, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich. The theme from “Schindler’s List” was also added to the performance, a meaningful piece written by John Williams. Haubs and Zhu would finish their performance with Precious Lord, Take My Hand, a reminder of God’s grace for all people

For many of the people they performed for, it was their first-time hearing and seeing a violin. The Juilliard duo are masters at their craft, and listeners were moved by the emotionality and beauty of the compositions.

Zhu reminisces, “There were so many great reactions to the music such as clapping, laughing, and dancing, especially by the children! Many families were eager to share their own experiences in music such as traditions and dances in their native cultures.”

Haubs and Zhu agree that the most meaningful location for them was Greece. “Greece held many of these first-entry families who have been segregated,” said Haubs. “We were honored to play for, support, and temporarily transport people to other universes of sound and music, and to share uplifting stories.”

The violinists believe that what they are doing is truly unique for Juilliard alums. Zhu and Haubs are using their talents for more than themselves. They are stepping outside the norm of what a Juilliard musician is supposed to do after graduation, and challenging musicians everywhere to do more than what is expected. They could play on any stage in the world and steal the spotlight, but they have seen the value of serving and using their gift as an offering to God and others.

“The very nature of creating music requires sharing with others. Although we both love performing in standard concert halls, there’s something very special about sharing with a community that doesn’t normally have access to a place such as Carnegie Hall. We have loved exploring the roots of classical music – it was originally intended for parlors, living rooms, and back porches! It was meant as a way for a community to gather and share in an experience, and that is what we hope to recreate with Concerts for Compassion.”

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