Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Benefit concert in Reading, Pa., will raise money for 9/11 shrine

A Reading, Pa., church group is sponsoring a benefit concert to help rebuild the only house of worship destroyed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.

A massive fundraising campaign is underway among Greek Orthodox churches and other organizations to raise the $38 million needed for the St. Nicholas National Shrine at Ground Zero.

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Lower Manhattan was demolished when taller buildings around it collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001. After more than a decade of wrangling with government agencies, church officials finally
received approval to rebuild what will now be known as the St. Nicholas National Shrine at Ground Zero, scheduled to open in 2016.

The women’s auxiliary of a Berks County church is doing its part to help raise money by sponsoring a concert featuring two well-known classical artists — pianist Maria Asteriadou and violinist Kurt Nikkanen. The husband-and-wife performers are internationally known musicians who are donating their time and talent to raise money for the project.

The concert is scheduled for Sunday, April 26, at 3 p.m. at the Miller Center for the Arts on the campus of Reading Area Community College, 4 N. Second St., Reading.

The benefit concert is sponsored by the St. Xenia Philoptochos Society, a women’s organization at Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Reading.

"Once rebuilt, it will function again as a Greek Orthodox church, but on a larger scale it will also serve as a national shrine, a welcoming haven for millions of people of all faiths who will visit the sacred site and pause for a moment of prayer or silent reflection," said Despina Denne, president of the St. Xenia Philoptochos Society and co-chairwoman of the benefit concert along with Ann Kraras and Sharon Whitman.

Greek-born pianist Asteriadou is an acclaimed soloist and chamber musician who has recorded extensively and has performed recitals all over the world. A graduate of the Julliard School and the Manhattan School of Music, Asteriadou is an associate professor of music at Kutztown University, where she also serves as director of the Chamber Music Outreach Program.

Violinist Nikkanen is a native of Hartford, Conn., and has been playing since the age of 3 and made his Carnegie Hall debut at age 12. A graduate of the Julliard School, Nikkanen is concertmaster with the New York City Ballet Orchestra and operates a private teaching studio in New York City. He has performed all over the world and recorded the work of many major composers, including Steven R. Gerber, who wrote a violin concerto specifically for Nikkanen.

Tickets for the benefit concert are $25 per person and $15 for students under 18. To order tickets, call 610-607-6270 or order online the Miller Center website at

A “Meet the Artists” reception will be held following the performance featuring hors d’oeuvres donated by local restaurants.

Free parking for the event is available at the garage at Front and Washington streets in Reading.

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