ACTAYS, a Story of Music and Alliances

This is the story of how sometimes things really work. Nine months ago, I wouldn’t have thought this could finally happen. But it happened. And what a great experience it was! In March 2019, I attended a charity play for children at Nemomarlin Pintor Rosales, a nursery school for children aged from 0 to 3 years old in Madrid. Raquel Menéndez, the director of the school and a very good old friend of mine, had told me that Sara García Iglesias, one of the teachers of her school, had been preparing a play based on a Spanish children’s book entitled Los guardianes del castillo (The Guardians of the Castle). All the teachers at my friend’s school got involved in the play and I said to my friend: «Ok, I’ll go there and make a video of it!» That was it! There I went with my videocamera to film the show and witness the love and enthusiasm with which the teachers had been working to make it happen. Then, while I was filming, I happened to know that the show was indeed a charity play to collect money for ACTAYS. An idea crossed my mind. I have a good friend, Mikhail Pochekin. He and his brother Ivan are great violinists and I said to myself: «Why not help and join ACTAYS cause by offering a charity concert?» When the play was finished, I approached Ana Mateo, a member of ACTAYS, who was among the audience. I told her about my sudden idea of organizing a charity concert to collect money for their cause. I was a little bit jumping the gun, because I hadn’t talked to my friend Mikhail Pochekin yet. As soon as I got out of the school, I called him I think he was in Salzburg at the time and told him about the idea. He didn’t doubt a second and said: «Sure! When?» And that’s how it all started. The concert took place nine months later. And it was like delivering a baby!

ACTAYS is an association founded in 2014 by Beatriz Fernández. Her two-year-old child, Isabel, had been diagnosed with a very rare and fatal neurological disease: Tay-Sachs. In order to try and find a cure for the disease, Beatriz created ACTAYS. Sadly, her child finally died, but Beatriz kept fighting for her cause. Today ACTAYS helps and provides psychological assistance to families with children who suffer from neurological diseases.

I’ll make the story short. As soon as Mikhail Pochekin came to Madrid —he lives between Salzburg, Munich, Moscow and Madrid— we had a meeting with Natalia Suárez, director of ACTAYS, and Ana Mateo to try and find the way to carry out a charity concert to promote Tay-Sachs disease awareness. We found the invaluable collaboration of Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía in Madrid and Allianz Partners Spain. Mikhail and his brother Ivan Pochekin decided to donate their concert for the benefit of children with neurological diseases at pediatric Hospital del Niño Jesús in Madrid, where ACTAYS has a project. For those of you who don’t know about this project, I invite to to visit the «Teatrillo» (Little Theatre) at Hospital del Niño Jesús. There you’ll meet incredible volunteers and professionals, like Marialy Guédez (psycologist), who dedicate their time to make the life of children and their families better. Mikhail Pochekin and I collaborated in one activity there by bringing closer the music of violin to children in hospital and their parents. It was a fantastic and transformative experience!

Los hermanos Pochekin durante los ensayos. Auditorio Sony, 21 de diciembre de 2019.

The Pochekin brothers at the rehearsals. Auditorio Sony Madrid, December 21st 2019.

Then, on 21st December 2019, the concert finally took place at Auditorio Sony in Madrid. There are so many people and institutions to thank for making this happen… Starting by the Pochekin brothers —Ivan just came from Moscow for the concert and left at the following day— and Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía and Allianz Partners and all the media and people —I can’t help but mentioning Luz Orihuela from RNE and her radio program «Andante con motto»— who echoed this charity concert. Not to mention those people who attended the concert and contributed to ACTAYS cause.

When it comes down to music quality and exellence, the Pochekin brothers are a safe bet! They had prepared a program consisting of Haendel’s Passacaglia in G minor transcribed by Johan Halvorsen for viola and violin, the Duo for violin and viola in G major by Mozart, Asturias by Isaac Albéniz in a transcription for violin solo by Mikhail Pochekin, the Paganini’s Caprices Nos. 10 & 24 —Ivan Pochekin is a Paganini specialist— and the Sonata for two violins op. 56 by Sergey Prokofiev. The audience gave a great round of applause at the end and the Pochekin brothers played two encores: the beautiful and beautifully played Andante for two violins by Reinhold Glière and an arrangement of Silent Night for two violins. The audience even joined by singing!

Now that the musical baby has been delivered, we only hope that this experience will help others contribute to ACTAYS cause. We did! Now it’s your turn… Make your own story of music and alliances and make things work!

Michael Thallium

Global & Greatness Coach
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