A generous British woman, an acclaimed Hungarian pianist, children suffering in India and a concert at the Wheeler Opera House might, at first glance, seem like a mismatched group. But, in Aspen, it’s a joining of forces to raise awareness and money for an international cause, while giving local audiences a premier musical show.
Adam Gyorgy will play an evening of Franz Liszt to benefit Vital for Children this Saturday. The 31-year-old pianist was accepted into the Bela Bartok Conservatory at age 12. Recognized early on as a talented musician with potential, he won a series of awards and titles on the European circuit and landed at the Liszt Academy, where he is currently earning his PhD.
Last winter, Yvonne Neuman saw one of his performances in London, and they were later introduced through friends. Around the same time, Neuman and her husband bought a house in Aspen, and started to spend part of their time in the Roaring Fork Valley.
“I invited Adam to come visit us in Aspen and ski, and his response was ‘I can’t ski, because if I hurt my hands, it’s the end of my life,’” says Neuman.
Instead, she proposed the idea of putting those hands to work and the idea for a benefit concert was born. The evening will raise money for her nonprofit, Vital for Children.
Several years ago, Neuman and her husband took a trip to India.
“It sort of a traumatized me with the poverty, and that we were leading such a privileged life,” she says. “I felt I had to do something.”
From children following their mother into prostitution to a lack of education, healthcare and basic necessities like running water and food, Neuman felt motivated by the conditions she witnessed.
Vital operates by partnering with Calcutta-based organizations which are already on the ground working in India. Neuman says she hand-picks projects to fund, and then monitors them herself to make sure Vital’s mission is being met. By covering administrative and travel costs out-of-pocket, 100 percent of donations go directly toward Vital projects.
“Right now we have a project in the Red Light District that’s supporting close to 500 children through protection and coaching classes,” she says. “And we’re proud to report that not one girl has followed her mother’s footsteps.”
Neuman will present Vital’s work during the benefit, as well as host a silent auction with items ranging from an afternoon tea at the House of Lords to a bed-and-breakfast experience in Bordeaux, accessed by helicopter pick-up.
And Gyorgy, who also has his own investment in international aid, offered a 10-day stay at his academy outside of Budapest.
“Our goal is to raise a lot of money to help children across the world,” she says.
This is Vital’s initial effort in fundraising here in the Roaring Fork Valley.
“I’ve been out on the streets hustling and getting to know the community,” she says. And while it hasn’t been much of a vacation this winter, on Saturday, she says, it will all be worth it.
Presented by Vital for Children
Saturday, March 2
Wheeler Opera House
6 p.m. Cocktails and silent auction
7 p.m. Show