Season of Lights: Benefit for Bright Futures

You are cordially invited to an inspiring evening of impact and elegance at the Season of Lights: Benefit for Bright Futures hosted by Midori & Friends. Join us in a celebration of the holiday season with a purpose-driven benefit to nurture young minds through music education.

November 30th, 2023 at 6:00pm

Salesforce Tower Bryant Park, NYC

1095 Avenue of Americas, 6th Avenue

New York, NY 10036

Elegant Atmosphere

Set against the panoramic NYC backdrop on the Ohana Floor at the Salesforce Tower, this event promises to provide delicious bites, joyous celebrations of Midori & Friends programming, and dazzling performances from special artists and Midori & Friends Music Stars.

At this annual fundraiser for tuition-free music education, Midori & Friends will unite arts patrons to raise critical funds to directly support instrument & vocal instruction, live global music concerts, and leadership development for teens, shaping young students’ dreams into reality. Your presence at this event is an investment in the aspirations of young talent and bright futures.

Extraordinary Talent

You do not want to miss this elegant night of sharing music, poetry and passion for the arts at Midori & Friends’ annual fundraiser to support music education for NYC youth. Featuring this lineup of talented artists:

Pictured from left to right: Melanie Sholtz, Miki Hayama, and Marcus Amaker

Melanie Scholtz is a South African born, multi award winning jazz singer and composer. She started playing the piano from the age of 5 and went on to study Opera at The University of Cape Town Opera School where she graduated Cum Laude with a Performer’s Diploma in Opera 2000. Melanie went on to teach at the University of Cape Town from 2004-2005. Melanie has released five successful solo albums and has won many awards In 2010, Melanie was named the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz and In 2012, won all three prizes at the prestigious Jazz Revelations competition as part of the Jazz a Juan Festival in Nice, France. She has performed all over the world including her native country, South Africa, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the United States.

Miki Hayama (she/her) is a GRAMMY nominated piano/ keyboard player, arranger and musical director, born in Kyoto, Japan, lives in NYC. She graduated from Osaka College of Music where majored in classical piano, and studied jazz piano with renowned jazz pianist Sadayasu Fujii in Kyoto. After graduated from College, she started to work at many Jazz clubs in Kansai area. Her ambition to pursue Jazz didn’t stop her but made her move to New York. Since 2003, Ms. Hayama has been busy making quite a respected name for herself on New York’s jazz scene. She has toured and shared the stage and recordings with many greats —Kenny Garrett, Ralph Peterson, Sean Jones, Tia Fuller, Michael Dease, Vincent Herring, Bruce Williams, Roy Hargrove, JD Allen, Greg Osby, Mark Shim, Cindy Blackman-Santana, Nnenna Freelon, Jazzmeia Horn, ChristianMcBride, Eric Harland, Gary Thomas, and even the queen of soul, ArethaFranklin to name a few. Recently, she worked as a musical director as well as an arranger and keyboardists on Nnenna Freelon’s new studio album “ Time Traveler “ which was released on May 21, 2021, and won the GRAMMY nomination.

Marcus Amaker (he/him) is a husband, a dad, a son, a music nerd, and a Star Wars obsessive. He served as the first Poet Laureate of Charleston, South Carolina, from 2016—22. In 2021, he became an Academy of American Poets fellow. He’s also a prolific performer, the award-winning graphic designer of a national music journal (No Depression), a musician, an opera librettist, the creator of a poetry festival, a teaching artist, and an advocate for youth poets. His poetry has been recognized by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Washington Post, The Kennedy Center, American Poets Magazine, The Washington National Opera, The Portland Opera, Button Poetry, NPR,  The Chicago Tribune, Edutopia, Departures Magazine, People’s World, PBS Newshour, SC Public Radio, Charleston Magazine, Charleston City Paper, North Dakota Quarterly, Post and Courier, Garden & Gun, Charleston Scene and several other publications. In 2019, he won a Governor’s Arts award in South Carolina, and was named the artist-in-residence of the Gaillard Center, a world-renowned performance and education venue. His poetry was used by the Washington National Opera for its Presidential Inauguration Day Concert in 2021, and has been studied in classrooms around the country. One of his poems is on two Grammy-nominated albums, and Marcus has recorded three albums with Grammy Award winning drummer and producer Quentin E. Baxter. His original opera with composer Gillian Rae Perry, The Weight of Light, will premiere at the Chicago Opera Theater in 2024. June 3, 2021, was named “Marcus Amaker Day” by John Tecklenburg, mayor of Charleston, SC. He lives in North Charleston, SC, with his wife, their daughter, and a cat named after Wu-Tang Clan. His tenth book is Hold What Makes You Whole, from Free Verse Press. His 40th album, a machine & its threads, will be released in 2024 by an electronic music label based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Midori & Friends’ Program Representatives

Not only will you enjoy special performances by the featured artists listed above, but you will also hear a Midori & Friends Play to Learn student choir from P.S. 62Q. These elementary school students are actively engaging in Midori & Friends programming, and they are thrilled to share what they have learned with you. The student choir will be led by our very own Education Program Manager, Laurent Grant Williams. This is an opportunity for you to speak with students who are being impacted by Midori & Friends programming in real time.


The Harmony for Change Award

Midori & Friends will honor American violinist Randall Goosby as the inaugural recipient of the 2024 Harmony for Change Award at this event. This prestigious accolade recognizes remarkable young musicians who have emerged as champions, leaders, and advocates for the classical music community. On November 30th, you will have the pleasure of meeting Randall Goosby and witnessing this historic moment for Midori & Friends! Click here to learn more about Randall Goosby and the Harmony for Change Award.


Special thanks to our generous sponsors:

Click here to get your tickets now!