On August 26 and 27, the ?eautiful Gala Concert?was held in Los Angeles. It featured the Onnuri Sarang Chamber Orchestra in collaboration with pianist Kim Yea-ji, and the Soma Trio?n ensemble that includes Ewha Professor Bai Il-hwan (Orchestral Instruments), the cellist. All 12 members of Onnuri are ?ifferently-abled? they are either physically or mentally challenged, and pianist Kim is blind. The concert was held to raise money for the Beautiful Mind Fund (BMF), a foundation founded by Professor Bai. The U.S. branch of the Beautiful Foundation? non-profit group based in Korea?uns the BMF. The foundation supports general philanthropy, but money in the Beautiful Mind Fund will be used specifically to help the disabled. The concerts have helped the BMF gain support from companies such as Samsung and SK, and in February Park Chan-ho from the San Diego Padres donated a signed baseball to the fund.
? Beautiful Mind is something anybody, whether physically or mentally challenged, young or poor can share with everybody else,?said Professor Bai. ? mother of a child with disabilities once told me ? thought this child would be useless anywhere in the world, but because of him I have come to America, and we are helping the poor in America.??Professor Bai thinks that the Beautiful Gala Concert has helped in making the American people look at Koreans with a different perspective. ?merican society thinks Koreans only know how to earn money and don? know how to give back. Some were curious and asked if Koreans actually donate.?
The next Beautiful Gala Concert is planned at the Hong Kong City Hall on October 4. ?t is going to be bigger than the concerts we held in LA, and it is going to be the bridgehead for future performances in Southeast Asia and China,?said Bai.
Professor Bai graduated from the Julliard School of Music and Yale Graduate School, and returned to Korea in 1992. He has recorded an album called ?eminiscence?with the Soma Trio, and the proceeds from the albums were all donated to help the poor; including donations to orphanages and a scholarship for needy students. Bai is currently working at Stanford University as a visiting scholar until 2007.