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“Kelly, Thanks you have the ability to take me musically to places I’ve never been.  Anna what a beautiful gentle instrument.  Thank you very much.”

 

 
About
 

Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Violinist/Founder/DirectorI am a professional classical violin soloist based in New York City. I am winner of a Naumburg International Violin Competition Honorarium Prize and featured in the Smithsonian Museum for African-American History, I am known as a violin soloist entrepreneur and have been acclaimed by the New York Times as "the versatile violinist who makes the music come alive,” for "tonal mastery" (BBC Music) and as New York Times “New Yorker of the Year.” I have appeared as co-soloist in Carnegie Hall with Glenn Dicterow and conductor Leonard Slatkin, in London at Queen Elizabeth Hall, at Lincoln Center and with the Symphonies of Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, Oakland, recitals in Paris, New York, Toronto, Washington, Chicago, and festivals of Tanglewood, Ravinia & Santa Fe. I was also honored to be “Fiddler”/Violin Soloist of the Grammy/Tony-nominated Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. Inspired by my experience, I commissioned and developed the first ever Fiddler solo disc, “The Fiddler Expanding Tradition,” featured in the new documentary “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” on the 55-year history of the musical.

In 2005, I founded Music Kitchen – Food for the Soul as the pioneer organization to bring top classical music artists in concert in homeless shelters and I am so proud that we were soon hailed in a New York Times feature article “Just three blocks from Lincoln Center…The concerts have an air of authenticity and directness that sometimes does not exist in concert halls.” My mission for this organization is to bring top emerging and established professional musicians together in order to share the inspirational, therapeutic, and uplifting power of music with those experiencing homelessness. I believe a shelter exists to provide not only physical but emotional and spiritual support to those who, for whatever reason, have lost the foundation of their homes and communities. I believe that music reaches the core of our being and can play a vital role in nourishing hope, love and strength, particularly when performed at an extremely high artistic level. Music Kitchen presents 45-60 min. informal and engaging chamber music performances by some of New York City’s top emerging and established musicians.

I began the program in my church basement at Holy Trinity Lutheran’s Men’s shelter program and, since that time, Music Kitchen has presented over 100 concerts, over 200 top emerging and established artists, including Emanuel Ax, Glenn Dicterow, Carter Brey, Albrecht Mayer of the Berlin Philharmonic, and reached over 30,000 homeless shelter clients coast to coast from New York to Los Angeles and including Paris, France.

The idea to create the Music Kitchen Concerts came to me while preparing for a series of solo concerts in February of 2004. Rather than play a run through for my usual cadre of colleagues and friends, I played instead for the men at the shelter. When they asked me if I would return a second night, I knew something really special had just happened and the experience was so rewarding for me. Some had never heard classical music before and some were knowledgeable about it, but all seemed drawn into and moved by the music. This was even without the proper piano accompaniment. After that experience, I couldn’t wait to pursue this idea of sharing music with them regularly, with a full complement of collaborating professional musicians. My vision for the performances is modeled somewhat on the long-standing tradition of chamber music parties where friends come together for spontaneous readings of their favorite works, often inspiring listeners with the warmth and intensity which often comes across more readily in such situations. Bringing together terrific artists who may or may not know each other has been yet another joy for me in founding this project.

In celebration of our 15 th season and 30,000 clients served, Music Kitchen proudly launched “Forgotten Voices,” a composite song cycle featuring concert feedback comments by homeless shelter clients from the first 100 concerts, set by 15 of the most celebrated established and emerging composers of our time. “Forgotten Voices” premiered one new song each month in shelters, beginning January 2019, and features the work of 15 commissioned composers: Courtney Bryan, Jon Grier, Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Gabriel Kahane, James Lee III, Beata Moon, Paul Moravec, Angelica Negron, Kevin Puts, Steve Sandberg, Kamala Sankaram, Jeff Scott, Carlos Simon, Errollyn Wallen and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and performed by a featured ensemble of outstanding top artists, including Allison Charney, soprano; Adrienne Danrich, soprano; Jesse Blumberg, baritone; Mark Risinger, bass, Kelly Hall-Tompkins, violin; Ling Ling Huang, violin, Andrew Gonzalez, viola, Alexis Gerlach, cello; Peter Seidenberg, cello and John-Paul Norpoth, bass. I am absolutely thrilled that we are partnering with Carnegie Hall for the World Premiere concert of the complete song cycle on March 31 st, 2022. The concert will feature the complete work of 15 songs, with special guests actress Jessica Hecht, and a Q&A from the stage by NBC's Harry Smith.

Music Kitchen’s “Forgotten Voices” was featured on NPR’s Performance Today, NBC TODAY Sunday with Harry Smith, a United Nations Concert at Lincoln Center Benefiting the Homeless, the 2019 Composers Now Festival, the Gateways Music Festival. Additional past press features of Music Kitchen – Food for the Soul include NBC 4 New York, ABCNews.com, CBSNews.com, STRINGS Magazine, Chamber Music America Magazine, The Hallmark Channel, Eastman Notes, The Rochester Review, David Leite’s Culinaria Magazine and additional New York Times Features, most of which are available here on our site.

At one of our performances, a client said, “I am forever changed because you people were here and I will never forget this day.” Music Kitchen is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have witnessed first-hand the power of great music and great artistry to change lives, so I hope you will consider joining us by making a contribution today or please see our How You Can Help page.

With sincere gratitude,
Kelly

 
 
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