To raise funds in order to benefit patients, caregivers, survivors, Albanians Fighting Cancer (AFC) USA hosted a concert of classical music with two internationally acclaimed artists Inva Mula and Genc Tukici at Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory on Saturday. The event also raised spirits and placed AFC on the map as the leading cancer advocacy organization for the community. https://gazetadielli.com/misioni-fisnik-i-afc-nderthuret…/ Eglantina Kica, physician and general sponsor of AFC, in her opening remarks noted how encouraging it is to have the support shown at the fundraiser. She said that it furthers the AFC mission, dedication and hard work of its members. Thanking the Board and the donors as well as all supporters and volunteers, Roberta Panariti Nashi, founder and director of AFC called the concert an “homage to hope”. She cited a quote by Pope Frances echoing the message that only love gives meaning and happiness in life: “We are born to help one another regardless of hardships. Life is beautiful when you are happy but it is even more beautiful when others are happy because of you.”
Archimandrite Theofan (Koja) of the Saint George’s Albanian Orthodox Cathedral, Boston commended “the musical selections that smoothly transitioned from classical compositions to Albanians ballads, old and new.” The recurring theme of finding hope in life’s moment of despair resonated with the audience and the artists. On stage soprano Inva Mula praised AFC as a one of a kind association that has moved her deeply. “Genci and I have toured around the world, we have not encountered an organizations such as this one,” she said amid much applause.
Sitting close to the stage of the prestigious hall, Mara from Worcester also credited “the careful selection of Italian and French arias followed by a well covered Albanian repertoire that was endearing to the community and embodied the theme of the concert.” A few aisles behind her, Valbona Lavdari, a North Shore based realtor, came to show support for AFC along with her mother and some friends. In anticipation of the concert, Valbona, who is from Berat and has moved with her family to the Boston area over two decades ago, posted a video urging her followers on social media to come to the event and be part of the experience. It is the kind of support that AFC is very grateful to have received, Dr. Ivi Kasimati said in his thank-you-address at the end.
Another resident of the Boston area, Ariana Cani, recalls her childhood memories from the time she and now-world-known artists were growing up in Albania. Ariana’s wish is to see more events like the concert of Inva Mula and Genc Tukiçi, “a dual pleasure of sounds that couples her wonderful voice with his magical hands to benefit a humanitarian cause.” Ariana Cani “counts herself fortunate to have known Roberta, the head of AFC, whom she admires for the drive and commitment centered on the community. Miranda Bego, the designated driver of the trio group of friends, replayed some songs acapella on the way home.
In the audience, there were folks of various demographics, including first-born Americans with their Albanian American parents and grandparents. Although the former group doesn’t particularly follow the classical music and is likely unfamiliar with the old-time repertoire of Shkodra songs, they politely applauded and sometimes snapped pics during the performance. Yet some of them grew more attentive when the audience responded to Inva’s invite to sing along. That’s because “it reminded me of our family’s gatherings when we burst out singing as a group,” says Rea Kondi, a Junior at Northeastern University.
In one of Tukici’s arrangement of an Albanian musical potpourri, as soon as the notes played out, some audience members immediately reacted to the song written in 1901 by Thoma Avrami, a teacher of the first Albanian language school that opened in Korca. Easily a top covered Albanian song popularized by the Lira choir, its original title was Longing for Motherland (Dëshërim për Mëmëdhenë) later known by a different name Mornings of May (Mëngjeset e Majit). Many knew its lyrics and some only the refrain yet when Tukici’s piano keys sounded out the notes the air inside Jordan Hall was charged with emotion. “Tukici’s arrangement of Dua Më Shumë Shqipërinë (I love Albania the most) embodied the double-layered meaning of the song,” says Mara. It is about love for one another and above all a love hymn to the homeland. Suddenly the impromptu accompanying turned the audience into an enchanted choir that performed live from the seats the over-a-hundred-year-old tune with the celebrity pianist on stage. Everyone instantly knew that it was the most memorable moment of the event.
In the days leading to and after the concert, AFC mailbox has been flooded with messages from survivors, family members and other supporters of the cause. One individual in Columbus, Ohio, who is going through radiation and chemo, writes: “I am grateful to you for spreading awareness especially in normalizing the word cancer,” that usually carries the weight of a death sentence in our culture. The note continues to say that “knowing that there are others specially Albanians that are going thru this helped out a lot!” In the end, the patient offers “to do my part to help the next person like myself who is or will go through this journey! Thank you!”
Albanians Fighting Cancer – USA https://albaniansfightingcancer.org/ is a registered non-profit charity in Boston, MA 501(c)(3) founded in 2019. It is dedicated to raising awareness in our community about cancer prevention & treatment as well as helping families and patients battling cancer disease.