Michelle's Dallas Benefit Concert Entry

July 2, 2012 | By wickley wickley

Michelle speaking about SMF and its programs

I have been inspired by the incredible work that the Shropshire Music Foundation does for several years now, so when Liz was looking for people to get together on Skype meetings to find ways to help the organization, I was so excited to take advantage of this opportunity to get involved!  I play viola and decided to gather some friends, and to organize a benefit concert.  Planning what the event would look like started back in November.  First, I asked some great friends and musicians (who I knew would be excited to help put an event together for this wonderful cause) if they would be willing to go in on a benefit concert.  Once my amazing husband, Ross (cellist), and our two good friends Zo and Emily (violinists) were all officially on board, we got together to play some chamber music and pick a program that we thought would be appealing to a mixed audience.  From then on, we juggled our schedules and found time to rehearse, nailed down a date that everyone was free (probably the most difficult thing to do), and worked on advertising any way we could!  The venue we arranged was a restaurant called the Garden Cafe in Dallas.  It’s a great local breakfast and lunch cafe that serves a lot of food that is literally grown in the garden directly behind the restaurant – hence the name “Garden Cafe.” They were so kind to donate the space to us which meant that even more money could go straight to SMF!

The few weeks leading up to the concert felt very hectic and I’m so grateful for all of the work and effort the members of the group put forth in addition to the individual practicing and rehearsing necessary to pull off an event like this!  Ross, being the tech savvy one in the bunch, made an awesome flyer and we all e-mailed it to friends, co-workers, and anyone we thought might be interested in coming.  We also did our best to plaster all the coffee shops and book stores in the area and submitted a listing with details about the event to several local newspapers and newsletters to try to get the word out to as many people as possible.

Left to right: Zo Manfredi, Emily Aquin, Ross Gasworth, Michelle Gasworth

Finally May 20th came and it was show time!  The Garden Cafe made some food, we had drinks, and around 40 people showed up.  We decided to make the event casual so people could walk around, eat and drink, and just be comfortable.  The video that is on the SMF website was the first thing we showed, and after that we alternated between playing a movement of a piece and talking about different aspects of the organization: history/mission, programs offered in each country and how they are tailored to the needs of that community, how I got involved with SMF, ‎ and how donations will help the organization.  Once the formal part was finished, we all walked around and had a chance to mingle with the audience and answer questions they had.  The audience was truly moved by the work of SMF and we were able to raise over $700! The positive support we got from our friends and everyone who came was overwhelming and we feel confident that the people who came to the concert will continue to support SMF in the future.  The whole process of planning this event from start to finish was such an amazing experience and we can’t wait for the next one!