Today, HeartBEATS would like to spotlight the International Orchestra of Refugees (IOR). The IOR was founded by Sebastian Agignoae, an accomplished pianist and current MFA candidate in Public Policy at Harvard. After learning that his father arrived in the United States as a refugee, Mr. Agignoae decided that he wanted to "direct much more of [his] focus to alleviating the [refugee] crisis." He recognized the universality of music and its power to bring communities together and decided to launch the IOR.
Right now, the IOR is functioning virtually. Prior to the pandemic, the team behind the IOR was planning on visiting refugee camps across the world and recruiting musicians to come together and form an orchestra that could perform and promote inclusion and fair treatment of asylum seekers. Seeing as that is no longer possible, IOR has focused their efforts on a virtual platform for displaced musicians to connect with one another and share their music. The IOR's first collaborative performance was posted in March, and it featured Artem, a violinist originally from Russia but currently living in the US, and Arian, a musician and composer from the northern region of Syria who fled to Turkey. Even though they were hundreds of miles apart, they came together to record "The Refugee Anthem," a piece composed by Arian. You can find this performance on the IOR's website- iorefugees.org.
As the IOR continues to grow and impact more refugees, we are excited to see the difference they will make in communities across the world. Be sure to check out their website and follow them on social media: @iorefugees