We have heard from many people who have been touched by the PTD Project.
Here are some of the impact statements we have received.
November 16, 2022
Listened to a piece today at NC State and I cannot express enough my gratitude. I was pregnant, homeless and running for my safety and the safety of my dear boy. Through being assaulted not knowing where will I lay my head. Running, running looking for a kind word. Or just a hand. This piece felt like my life. Like this piece was made just for me and my boy. I don’t know what the holidays will bring this year but I’m not homeless anymore. Thank you so so much for thinking of me, for making such beautiful music which spoke to my soul and brightened my spirit. The violin solo spoke to me and my son’s future, the turmoil, but then grace and love. Brightness to a future I did not think was possible alone. This symphony written spoke to my soul. Music touches not just those who can be seen but those who don’t have a voice or any hope. Pray for me and my son this holiday season. Again please keep playing please keep making music, this piece gave me hope and reminded me how far I have come, and the hope for a better future. Thank you.
Music Director and Conductor
Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra
The Paths To Dignity project was one of the most profound musical and human experiences I have had in my life. More than simply a concert, the activities surrounding Mitch Newman's performance of Lucas Richman's concerto included immersive and moving events that brought together the audience, musicians and members of the community in a powerful way that truly changed lives.
Whether it was playing in local shelters, welcoming 50 members of the unhoused community into the concert hall, or highlighting the life stories of the homeless through lobby events and post-concert panels, Paths to Dignity lived up to its name. I have never witnessed people more moved by the communal experience of sharing music together – everyone was in tears, and many human-to-human embraces followed the performance.
Musically, the experience was transformative. The shelter performances were marked by an attentive silence and feeling of presence I have never before experienced. Though the audience was the most varied I’ve ever seen at a “classical” performance, they were on the edge of their seats and open in a way that is all too rare at traditional concerts. Mitch was the ideal host and performer, making all feel welcome and seen.
Mr. Newman’s vision of making genuine, lasting connections in the community created lasting bonds and created an open, welcoming environment for all. Each individual was treated with dignity and seen for who they truly are, not for the worst days of their life, or their lowest point.
I’m grateful to have had the chance to collaborate with Mitch to bring this special experience to life. It is truly a gift.
David C. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.
LCAS/CCS, LCMHCS, PMP
Associate Teaching Professor, NC State University School of Social Work
June 7, 2023
I am a Social Work Professor who works with Homeless Populations in Raleigh, NC. I was contacted to see if I could help with planning a concert to bring dignity to those populations. At first, I thought.."Ugh, one more task, I know nothing about music". After talking to Mitch, Lucas and Peter, I was so impressed with their dedication, compassion and talent that my attitude quickly changed to "Hey, if you know music, I know homelessness. Let's go for it".
I am so glad I did. It is an understatement to say this was absolutely wonderful and left a lasting impression on me, the community and, most importantly, a group of approximately 40 homeless friends who got to participate in or watch the concert. Several months later, I still hear comments about how wonderful this event was and what an impact it had. One of the participants is currently finishing a one year rehabilitation program and would like to participate in future performances. Yes, homeless folks are musicians, artists, parents, good citizens and wonderful human beings.
I can't thank everyone enough for bring this wonderful event to Raleigh and showing such wonderful respect and compassion for those who are so desperately in need.....
Associate Professor of Music at University of Virginia's College at Wise
April 25, 2023
Collectively, we can impact our communities in ways that are not possible as individuals or even as individual organizations.
Last night, the UVA Wise Jazz Ensemble presented one of its best concerts ever. It wasn’t on stage at Carnegie Hall or at the Monterey Jazz Festival. It wasn’t at Midwest. It wasn’t even in our Black Box theater. It was only captured in snippets from a few folks’ phones in the room. The most meaningful images from the event can’t even be fully shared. This hallmark performance took place at our local homeless shelter for our community members who have likely never been able to experience live music, especially of this genre in many years - if ever.
The UVA Wise Jazz Ensemble presented this special concert as a part of the Paths to Dignity Project spearheaded by the Symphony of the Mountains and their music director Cornelia Laemmli-Orth, supporting people who are unsheltered, offering music to uplift them and nourish their souls. In addition to nourishing souls, the UVA Wise Circle K International organization prepared over sixty meals and distributed to those in attendance and others in nearby shelters who were unable to attend the event. Marybeth Adkins and her staff at Family Crisis Support who work daily to provide resources for and support those in need were great to facilitate the event and to encourage people to come enjoy the meal and entertainment.
As this was a new venue and a completely new venture for us, we truly had no idea what to expect. I had asked for prayers and positive thoughts from others that this event would function as we we intending. When we started making music, a few folks started filtering in. Then came the children… By the time we finished the first piece, the kids were running around and dancing to the music, having a blast! Parents were smiling. Meals were being handed out. Our patrons were indeed being nourished with food and music. It didn’t take long at all before I found myself playing with the children, leaving the band to take care of themselves. “They’ve played this music before. They can find their way without me.” (And they did…a little too well.)
I pulled up a chair so that one of the children could stand on it to direct the band. Before long, a second was asking to direct too. I pulled up a second chair and we had a new pair of co-directors! It nourished MY soul to see the look of delight on their faces as they stood (on chairs) in front of the ensemble taking charge! It was one of the greatest moments I have experienced with this band.
We played, people ate, we enjoyed each other’s company through smiles, eighth notes, improv, and applause. The hour of music seemed to pass in a flash.
Following the performance, I spoke with many of the folks who came to spend the evening with us. I’ll alter their names to protect their anonymity. Jim, who used to play trombone, shared stories of his time in the band at a local high school and said that we had inspired him to want to start playing his instrument again. His wife, Sarah, shared that it was a very nice event and that we was glad we came to share our music with her. Ben, originally from New Jersey, said that he has always loved music and he enjoys how music can lift your spirits. He said that this was the first time he had heard live music with horns and loved every minute of it. He asked when we would be able to return as he shook my had a third time. Of course, it was completely evident, seeing the sheer joy on the faces of my favorites - the children - as they had the opportunity to lead the band.
We went into that venue with the purpose of providing nourishment to the souls and bodies of our audience through music and a meal. I am certain they benefitted from the event but we - the musicians - evolved to a new of musician level last night. The power of music to impact the lives of everyone was clearly evident and I am certain that we ALL left that performance as greater human beings and citizens of our world.
A comment from one of our partners in the audience: “I know you were up there with the music and probably did not see all the reactions. There were people so moved that they were crying and laughing, clapping and dancing in their chairs. Everyone there thanked us profoundly. There were many more in the lobby who thought they were not dressed well enough to come in. We were not able to convince them that it did not matter what they were wearing, so we brought the food out to them. You and your group touched a lot of people in a powerful and beautiful way last night. Thank you for everything you do!!”