Julie Leven on the origins of Shelter Music Boston
"Since I first picked up the violin as a nine-year old, the instrument has been my calling: the beauty, emotional expressiveness, and depth of the music are infinitely rewarding. I have played professionally for over 25 years in the great concert halls of the world and on 20 commercial recordings.
In December 2009 I read in the New York Times about violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, who plays in homeless shelters in Manhattan. Immediately I realized that we need this in Boston; that I would create a sustainable nonprofit organization to be staffed by professional musicians who would deliver concerts as a social service. Soon, I had lined up concerts, two per month, at the Shattuck Shelter and Kitty Dukakis Treatment Center in Jamaica Plain, MA.
The first concerts were a revelation: never had I experienced such a level of appreciation for my art from an audience. Performing in environments of great need is a natural evolution of the role classical music should fill in modern society. To have a positive impact on the life of a homeless individual by playing my violin is to honor classical music and the dignity of all people."
Photo Credit: Steve Olimpio
Milestones on our Journey
May 2010: First concerts at Kitty Dukakis Treatment Center and Shattuck Shelter.
May 2011: Marked the first year anniversary of Shelter Music Boston concerts.
October 2011: Shelter Music Boston musicians commenced a new shelter concert series at Rosie's Place, made possible by the first foundation to invest in our work: the PatsyLu Fund for Women's Projects, of the Open Meadows Foundation.
March 2012: Concerts commence at Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program and Pine Street Inn.
May 2012: First concerts at Women's Residential Treatment Program at Dimock Center.
December 2012: Shelter Music Boston was selected by the Social Innovation Forum of Root Cause as their first-ever Classical Music Social Innovator.
May, 2013: Julie Leven introduced Shelter Music Boston to the audience at the Social Innovation Forum Showcase ~ the first SIF Showcase presentation ever to include live classical music.
June 2013: Concerts start at the Crittenton Women's Union Hastings House ~ the first Shelter Music Boston concerts for women with young children.
November 2014: The Massachusetts House of Representatives recognized Shelter Music Boston for "concerts that bring the arts, dignity, and respect to homeless men and women."
During 2015: welcomed to the rosters of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Boston Cultural Council, and performed concerts at Women's Lunch Place. We performed our 250th shelter concert!
In 2016: expanded service to Lifebridge of Salem, providing the North Shore of Boston with shelter concerts.
In 2017: served the Lowell Transitional Living Center and added the Men's Stabilization Program of Pine Street Inn to our monthly roster.
In 2018: named our concert series for women in recovery at the Dimock Center the Ilene Beal Concerts for Women in recognition of a $250,000 grant from the Beal Charitable Foundation. Piloted concerts for homeless children in partnership with The Boston Philharmonic and the Malden-based organization, Housing Families.