The HOPE concert spreads hope through music


Photo courtesy of Sylvia Thomson

The HOPE Concert features many student musicians as well as professionals. At their performances, they play a wide range of instruments. Shown above, is Melody Chen playing the Guzheng which is a Chinese plucked zither at the Nov. 12 concert.

By Jordan Pashkoff, Editor-in-Chief

The DMV area is no stranger to impressive teenage activists and leaders who take it upon themselves to create change and spread awareness for important global issues. The HOPE Concert (THC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for special-needs care centers in China and spreading inspiration to young musicians, is no exception.

THC was founded by Aiai Calmer, a freshman at Brown University, and Wendy Song, a senior at WCHS, who are also the Communications Director and Artistic Director, respectively. While THC had its official first concert in August 2022, Song and Calmer have been working on creating their organization since last year. 

“The HOPE Concert is a series of concerts dedicated to raising money for the Philip Hayden Foundation, a children’s care center in China that was negatively affected financially during Covid-19, and we also want to raise awareness for the many different care centers around the world that need support,” Song said.

The Philip Hayden Foundation was founded in 1995 by Timothy and Pamela Baker, two English teachers who moved to China, to honor their late friend Philip Hayden and continue their work of supporting at-risk children. The foundation started helping children in China and now has expanded its aid to Mexico. 

“We decided to start The HOPE Concert after learning that the Chinese government would not be funding the Philip Hayden Foundation in any way, and we wanted to make a difference in these children’s lives after such rough years with the virus. We hope to not only help these children financially, but to also encourage them to find their love for music and especially traditional instruments, which don’t get that much attention on mainstream media,” Song said.

Performances for THC usually are 45 minutes to an hour and highlight numerous traditional musicians. The most recent performance was on Nov. 12 at the Potomac Community Center and featured instruments such as the violin, guzheng, Chinese sanxian and piano. 

“We are partners with the Washington Guzheng Society, which gives us the great opportunity to showcase at least one guzheng player at every concert. We also have many classical music students that perform for us, playing amazing high-level pieces,” Song said. “With the help of our Executive Director of Production, Yashar Garzan, we manage to recruit traditional musicians across the globe to share with us their musical talent that is often overlooked.”

As THC has expanded, it has been able to incorporate more of the WCHS community to help further its mission. This includes executive board members, who work behind the scenes on tasks like organization and social media, or as performers for their concerts.

“I saw an Instagram post from Wendy over the summer explaining what THC’s objective was: to raise funds for a Chinese care center. Because I was adopted myself, I was interested in the opportunity to give back by being a part of this team,” THC secretary Sylvia Thomson said. 

New concert dates are posted both on their website and Instagram account (@thehopeconcert). To gain a better understanding of what a HOPE concert performance looks like, be sure to check out their August Kickoff video on their Youtube channel, @thehopeconcert7367. 

“The goal of The HOPE Concert is to raise at least $2000 towards the Philip Hayden Foundation. I hope we will be able to branch out moving forward and incorporate many other orphanages in order for them to benefit from our cause as well,” Thomson said. 

The HOPE Concert’s next performance is the evening of Dec. 28 at the Washington D.C Temple. For more information about THC’s performances or how to donate, go to