By Keith Loria
On Oct. 20, Weston High School senior Thomas Bogaev held a successful charity event, Celebration of Music and Philanthropy, at the Steinway Center in Westport, which raised more than $2,500 for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and for KEYS, a non-profit that provides free instrumental lessons to disadvantaged youth.
“It was part of a charity called Keys to a Cure that I started and the purpose is to have a database website of volunteer musicians who can contribute their talents for causes, such as the event we held at Steinway,” Bogaev said. “It’s a way to easily assemble many musicians in one room to help a good cause.”
Bogaev conceived the idea last year in an effort to help young philanthropists-in-the-making the chance to host their own fundraisers, like the one he put on. Soon to be available in Fairfield County, Bogaev envisions that the database will attract gifted volunteer performers in every town in the country and beyond.
“I’m still developing the site, but I want young people to be able to use these musicians for galas and other events that young people hold to help raise money for organizations,” he said. “I have a passion for philanthropy, but I also really love piano and the arts. I wanted to find a way to combine these loves.”
For his event, the 17-year-old enlisted a bevy of singers and musicians to perform, including his parents — Broadway lyricist/performer Barbara Schottenfeld and Grammy/Emmy-winning music director composer Paul Bogaev.
Others taking part included Louise Baranger, Thomas Bogaev, Paul Bogaev, Chris Coogan, Larry Edoff, Leif Edoff, Sarah Fears, Denise Johnson, Eva Rawiszer and Samantha Rehr, offering a mix of jazz, pop, classical and musical theatre performances.
“I started out the evening talking about how this is something that other people can do and we can build this up, and then I performed two pieces on the piano,” he said. “We had 11 performers and an MC who helped transition the acts and everyone seemed to love the performers.”
Steinway donated both its venue and $165,000 grand piano for the performance and the night consisted of both a pre and post-concert reception, with 100% of the money raised going to the charities.
“I don’t have enough money to make a big difference but I wanted a way to help raise money through something I am really passionate about doing,” he said. “It ended up being a big success.”
Bogaev is not only a rising musician, but he’s also an award-winning photographer and currently has a one-man gallery show — Beauty and Despair — running at Rockwell Art in Wilton. The show opens on Nov. 16. One of the photos from that collection was auctioned off at the event. Last year, he won first place for one of his photographs in the Wilton Arts Council FOCUS ’17 photography show.
Bogaev also donates his photographic skills to galas of worthy causes, such as Adam’s House and The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation and shoots photos of the Westport Farmers Market to give publicity to the local farmers.
Once he graduates, he hopes to study music and art in college and continue his philanthropic ways.