Wilmette, Community

Young musicians unite to help Highland Park

Strength is an important part of Highland Park’s journey forward. And people from all over have been using theirs to help the community in the wake of the tragedy on July 4.

Whether that strength is rock-n-roll talent and fame, like Billy Corgan, or gardening skills and compassion, like Amy March, or some free time and a strong will, like Bailey Morris, locals are contributing to the cause.

Two local teenagers — Wilmette’s Jenny Zhu and Winnetka’s Haohao Towne — also decided to do their part in early July when they started Young Musicians For Change and began working on a charity performance video to help raise funds for the Highland Park Community Foundation.

The video debuted on Thursday, Aug. 4, and features eight young musicians performing “What the World Needs Now is Love.” The performance ends with instructions to donate to the foundation’s July 4th Highland Park Shooting Response Fund.

As of Monday, Aug. 8, the performance had helped raise close to $4,000. Christopher Towne, Haohao’s father who has assisted with the project, said the group’s goal is $10,000.

“In the end, if we raise a few thousand dollars that wasn’t there before, we are of that,” he said. “But we want to do more.”

A few days after the shooting, Haohao Towne and Jenny Zhu, who is Haohao’s violin instructor, discussed what they could do to help, Zhu told The Record in an email. They kept the conversation going until they came up with Young Musicians For Change, a group that would use “the power of music to raise funds …. for those who were adversely affected by the tragedy,” Zhu wrote.

Young Musicians For Change’s video in support of Highland Park features Zhu and Towne as well as recent New Trier High School graduates Naomi Kravitz (vocals), Isha Kasbekar (violin) and Jimmy Chiu (flute); New Trier rising senior Lana Butovich (violin); David Tan, a violinist from Australia; and Yungying Zhang, a flutist from China.

Zhu’s piano professor, Dr. Sylvia Wang, who teaches at Northwestern, provides the introduction for the video, and Michael Dunne edited the content. Zhu also connected with Highland Park officials to OK the project.

While the attack on Highland Park hit home, Christopher Towne said gun violence in other communities, such as within the City of Chicago, also deserves attention. He hopes Young Musicians For Change can grow and musicians from across the country and world can unite with musicians from a community that is in pain to raise funds.

“The big vision here is to do this more than once,” he said. “I would love to feel like gun violence will go away but I’m confident it’s not going to soon. So if we can make a concert, with young musicians who want to join the effort … and organize with another location and do it with musicians around there, let’s give it a shot.”

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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