Next weekend, Ojai’s Topa Mountain Winery will play host to a multicultural event that will please the ear as well as the palate. Winds and Wines takes place on Friday, Aug. 11, and it will feature some of the finest wind musicians in the world. “We have a phenomenal, international, star-studded lineup,” says world musician, composer and educator John Zeretzke. “Some of the most renowned flute players are coming up from Los Angeles.”
Musicians slated to perform include Jacob Scesney (sax), Laura Walter (classical flute), Hasan Minawi (Arabic flutes), Martin Espino (flutes of Ancient Mexico), Persian flute master Houman Pourmehdi and Zeretzke himself — all exceptionally talented and lauded names in world music.
The event is a fundraiser for Flutes Across the World (FAW), a nonprofit that seeks to unite people across borders and cultures through music. The concept is simple: Children in the United States decorate flutes that they then give to children in other countries. Throughout the process, they learn about the country to which the individual instrument will be sent: its geography, customs and traditions, language and, of course, art and music. “Kids here in America are learning about what it’s like to be a kid in another part of the world through the flute,” explains John Zeretzke, who founded FAW in 2009. “They are really connecting to another child. . . . Our program also supports indigenous music.”
FAW started in the Philippines, working in tandem with the local community and other charities and individuals involved in humanitarian work. It’s taken the program into other countries as well: Haiti, Nepal, Nigeria, Honduras, Indonesia and even closer to home, reaching out to the Lakota and Apache Nations. The most recent “music mission,” planned for the fall, will involve bringing 1,600 flutes to Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Zeretzke will also be training Philippine teachers and social workers to continue the program.
Flutes may seem like odd devices for humanitarian outreach, but Zeretzke has found that FAW has had a profound effect on both the giver and the receiver. American children involved in the program learn more about the world, art and music. Many alums grow up to become volunteers. And the recipients? “We’re hearing stories of kids in other parts of the world who never forget their American friend who reached out to them,” Zeretzke says.
“Programs such as these show who we are as Americans,” Zeretzke adds. “It’s giving from the heart.”
These flutes serve as a bridge to greater understanding and compassion, which Zeretzke hopes will eventually pave the way toward peace.
Winds and Wines takes place on Friday, Aug. 11, at Topa Mountain Winery, 821 W. Ojai Ave., Ojai. For more information, call 798-2480 or visit www.flutesacrosstheworld.org.