SHORT HILLS, NJ - Singapore-born American conductor, George Mathew, founder and Artistic Director of Music for Life International, has emerged as one of the leading forces in the classical music world bringing symphonic music to focus on global humanitarian issues and crises at the beginning of the 21st Century. In recent seasons, he has appeared in the US, Australia, Jordan, India, Panama, Morocco, Netherlands, and South Africa as conductor and ambassador for transformative action through music. Mr. Mathew and MFLI were honored with the 2016 Robert and JoAnn Bendetson Award for Public Diplomacy from the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University for their services to global public diplomacy through music. 

Mathew is a visionary musical thinker and performer. He finds deep connections between urgent humanitarian and social causes and the human architecture of great music. For a decade, he has created a musical landscape in NYC that has brought together the finest musicians from around the globe to present great works from the canon. These concerts have all involved fundamentally new ways of engaging the connection between the urgency of a cause and the meaning inherent in the music, be it found in Mahler, Verdi, Shostakovich, or Beethoven.

Mathew on Beethoven for The Rohingya

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“The Ninth is a symphonic statement against discrimination and against religious and ethnic persecution of any kind... Beethoven for The Rohingya, seeks to remind all of us, why Beethoven’s own words in the Ninth Symphony ‘Friends, NOT these horrific sounds but let us give voice to something better and more joyful,’ speaks to all who say ‘never again.’”

“Beethoven himself makes a musical point in the Finale, which is at the heart of our mission with this concert. Writing in an earlier era of tension between East and West, Beethoven sets the famous Ode to Joy as a German drinking song of the time accompanied by the percussion instruments of the Turkish military tradition, i.e. music of the Islamic world, to provide rhythmic stability and indeed security for the German (western) setting of the famous tune. At that moment Beethoven seems to become the voice of a whole civilization in a rare moment of embrace of another civilization.” Mr. Mathew noted, “In gathering together as a community of musicians, listeners, and supporters we are sending a message of solidarity and human support to our Rohingya brothers and sisters... currently one of the most vulnerable minorities on earth.”