On April 25, Italian music legend Andrea Bocelli will partner with the biggest names in Miami: billionaire developers Jorge Pérez and Gil Dezer. Together, they will host a charity concert on the sands of the beach in front of the upcoming Residences by Armani/Casa development. Through this event, Andrea Bocelli will bridge his passion project, The Andrea Bocelli Foundation, and his love affair with Miami. Proceeds from the event will directly benefit ABF, which seeks to improve communities faced by poverty, illiteracy and distress. The Foundation is currently building a school in Haiti, and Bocelli’s goal to raise $1 million to help see this project through, affecting thousands of children.
In light of the upcoming extravaganza, Haute Living chatted with the star for some background info on the foundation, how his charity work began, why it’s important you get involved, and more. Here’s the scoop:
HL: You dedicated your namesake to help people and communities faced with poverty, why in particular is this cause important to you?
AB: The will from which my foundation stems is to return the affection and closeness collected over the years from traveling all over the world with my family and by myself to others. Being a philanthropist does not simply mean to just be generous, and it is not only a moral duty, but also an act of intelligence—being aware of your surroundings and of others in need. For me, philanthropy essentially means the joy of sharing. Unity is strength—alone you can do a lot, but together you can do a lot more. Thus, it was natural to turn this idea into a structured approach by creating an institution able to channel all of these forces and turn them into something concrete to help others.
HL: How did you become involved with Haiti and the Foundation Saint Luc?
AB: Nothing ever happens by chance. More than ten years ago, fate brought Haiti into our house. We did not choose that place, but that place chose us through a special person, a hero of our times who, with his kids, got us involved. With more than thirty years on the forefront in Haiti, Father Rick Frechette, American priest and doctor, is the founder and guide of the Foundation Saint Luc, a Haitian non-profit, Catholic-oriented organization, composed of Haitians only, that work in the field of education, health care and community development, as well as agriculture and management of emergencies. Every year the Foundation benefits about 90,000 people. Particular attention is given to the involvement and training of young leaders, many of whom have grown up in the orphanages of N.P.H, by father Rick himself, sharing with them a vision of development of Haiti based on hard work, moral integrity, Christian values, and the inspiration gained by young Haitians themselves.
HL: How does “Voices for Haiti” make a difference in the country? Why is educating children on music so important?
AB: Music is the light that we have in our souls that makes our senses feel in perfect harmony with nature, and makes us feel alive every time we think of our existence in this world. This is why ABF is introducing music in schools—so that we can let the students grow in harmony and reach opportunities to perform themselves, and educate them in the areas of art and culture. Music becomes an additional means for social and intellectual development personally, and for the community. Music and the beauty that music expresses bring international focus to the Haitian condition by celebrating the strength of its colors and its heroic people. We created a choir of 60 elements including those ages 9-15, selected among 12,000 potential candidates. All the choir members, as well as the students of the ABF- Fondation St. Luc system, live in the poorest areas of the island. Many of the children in “Voices of Haiti” come from the slum Cité Soleil, where more than 300,000 people live in tin shacks with no access to water or sanitation. The ultimate goal is to strengthen the real capabilities of the students, to stimulate their creativity and to give them more opportunities to develop their talent.
HL: What positive results have you seen since “Voices for Haiti” was implemented?
AB: In the first year of activity, the young choristers have faced a tough and important learning experience. The approach to this project has been structured since the very beginning to make them develop logic of discipline and cooperation, in addition to the intensive program related to music, vocal technique and harmony. The choristers have sung in six different languages with wide repertoire. Thanks to the encounter with the public, from Haiti to New York, they have acquired increased awareness of their capabilities and talent, which has turned into the culmination of dreams for them and for their country, and this can be seen in their eyes every time they sing a song.
HL: You have an upcoming charity concert in Miami with Gil Dezer and Jorge Peréz at Residences by Armani/Casa. Why did you choose to partner with this team for this event?
AB: It was a good opportunity that I seized right away. We have created a charity evening together with our friends. It is a private concert on the beach, an exclusive evening under the stars where I will have the pleasure of singing for a cause that is close to my heart. The funds raised from the event will be entirely donated for educational projects of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation.
HL: Why were you drawn to hold it in Miami?
AB: Miami is a place that, in recent years, has become ‘home’ for my family. We love to spend time here, whether for a few days break during a tour, or for celebrations like Christmas and Easter, enjoying the beautiful weather and the activities that the city offers.
HL: Tell us about your love affair with Miami. We hear you call it your “Tuscany Overseas.” Explain what Miami means to you and why it’s the perfect place to host this event.
AB: It is a special land, kissed by the sun and the sea. It is a hospitable place, a meeting point of different cultures and traditions that have melted, thus giving this place a sparkling atmosphere—which is not so easy to find elsewhere. It is one of the places I love most in the world: here I can really rest, enjoy the beauties of nature, and its privileged climate. Additionally, in Florida we eat very well, for the same reason why we also live very well, thanks to a happy combination of different experiences. Plus, in Miami you can find many restaurants offering refined Italian Cuisine! When I’m here, I feel like a fellow citizen, and I am always happy to perform in front of an audience that knows how to get excited, how to express feelings and, of course, how to be generous towards the less fortunate.
HL: Why is a charity concert like this unique?
AB: I like to think that projects like this one derive, first of all, from mutual respect and listening. The Miami show was born from a meeting among people who wanted to join forces in order to offer more opportunities for growth and development to our projects and to our kids in Haiti. And I humbly offer what I can: my voice.
HL: Each of the guests at the event will play a role in positively impacting Haiti, and particularly the education of its children. Tell us a little about how exactly this money will help them, and what ABF will do with the funds to benefit the country.
AB: Since 2012, ABF has been helping five Haitian communities among the poorest and most remote, starting with education—building street schools that are now real, functional, and safe structures, that can accommodate 2,550 students from kindergarten to some classes of secondary school. The challenge for us is to continue to work everyday to grant the 2,550 students of our schools access to education, medical care, and art as a further expression of their talent. It is to this project that the funds raised during the Miami event will be dedicated.
HL: What can guests look forward to at the event? Do you have any surprises planned?
A surprise, if revealed, is no longer a surprise! We have done our best to conceive an evening that will live up to expectations. Next to me, a voice partner of great charm and skill, will be soprano Maria Aleida. Without revealing too much, I can say that in the program there will be world famous pages from Opera repertoire of Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Jacques Offenbach, Friedrich von Flotow… but there will be also a series of songs from my most recent pop albums, besides those songs that my public traditionally expects to hear from my voice. Here are all the ingredients necessary for a festive and friendly concert, an opportunity to celebrate music, beauty and solidarity, in an intimate way with the accompaniment of a piano and of the sound of the chamber music ‘Casa Armani Quartet’.
Tickets range from $1000 (single ticket) to $25,000 (2 tickets at Andrea Bocelli’s table). For tickets and more information, please visit donatenow.networkforgood.org/andreabocelli