In memory of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Azusa Pacific University features cellist Marek Szpakiewicz, Ph.D., director of string studies and chamber music, in a faculty artist concert. Open to the public with free admission, the event takes place on October 20, 7-9 p.m. in Munson Chapel and will include a reception to follow. Donations are appreciated and will benefit the Soma Children’s Orchestra in Fukushima, Japan.

Szpakiewicz’s gift for the cello has not only earned him recognition within APU’s School of Music, but he has also been honored by world-renowned musicians. Yo-Yo Ma said Szpakiewicz’s, “energy, motivation, earnestness, and generosity of spirit are evident through his work.” Originally from Poland, Szpakiewicz’s work has earned him international notability and permanent residency in the United States as an Extraordinary Ability Artist.

At age 16, Szpakiewicz lived less than 400 miles away from the nuclear reactor meltdown in Chernobyl. Unable to leave, his family saw the affects of the devastating nuclear disaster. Years later, news reached Szpakiewicz of the Northern Japan earthquake and tsunami, as well as the resulting nuclear fallout in Fukushima. Moved by his memories of Chernobyl, he decided to use his musical talents to raise awareness and relief funds for those in Northern Japan, an effort close to his heart that continues today.

In 2011, Szpakiewicz received recognition from Los Angeles County for organizing a musical event to raise donations for the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan, who he hopes to commemorate at this APU faculty artist recital.

Szpakiewicz also partners with the Soma Children’s Orchestra to bring music to those in who have experienced the devastation of 2011. This will be his third recital at APU raising funds for the orchestra after the earthquake and tsunami. Remembering when he was too small to play on his school’s cellos, Szpakiewicz hopes this concert will raise donations to purchase a ¼ size cello for the children’s orchestra. This smaller instrument will provide an opportunity for younger members to join the cello section and pursue their musical passions. Szpakiewicz will personally deliver the cello later in October, after his concert in Tokyo.