QC School of Music partners with Cafe on Benefit

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Music feeds our soul and food keeps us alive. These two necessities will come together at a special fundraiser next Thursday, October 20 at sound conservatory1600 2nd Avenue, Rock Island.

Andrzej Kozlowski, owner of the seven-month music school and store, is playing his part in helping to end hunger in our community, by partnering with Quad Cities NEST Cafe1524 4th Avenue, Rock Island.

The Roots of Rhythm Trio will perform at the October 20 fundraiser.

The October 20 benefit event will feature a performance by the Roots of Rhythm Trio, performing old-style jazz as well as jazz precursors and lesser-known song renditions. The net result is a new approach to traditional and old jazz.

Along with the show, guests will enjoy a tasteful dinner prepared by the NEST (Nourish Everyone Sustainably Together) cafe, including a three-course meal.

Proceeds from the event will go to NEST and its efforts to expand its meal offerings during the upcoming holiday season.

“We believe no one should ever worry about getting food on their table and together we can make everyone’s holiday season a happy, well-nourished time,” Kozlowski said.

growing up poor

He and his sister (immigrants from Poland) were raised in a poor family on Long Island, NY, by a single father (their mother left them), in a 700 square foot apartment.

Andrzej Kozlowski in his teaching studio at the Sound Conservatory, 1600 2nd Ave., Rock Island (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“We were lucky, growing up in New York, the school system had good meal plan programs for underprivileged families,” he recently said. “I’ve always admired the concept of ‘pay what you can’ restaurants. For me, eating should be a right.

“To struggle with food because of life’s hardships, I don’t think it’s fair, knowing what it feels like, to have been in that position,” Kozlowski said. “When you’re an immigrant, you don’t speak the language.”

When he discovered NEST Café opening around the same time, he opened his first location (at 2235 3rd Ave., Rock Island), he took a great interest in them and has been a regular customer ever since.

“Once we start growing, I want to partner with this organization,” Kozlowski said of his thoughts. “Our goal with this partnership is to have a performance with NEST Café doing the catering.”

Much larger space

The Sound Conservatory outgrew its original location and moved to a much larger building, the former 1901 Illinois Theater. Kozlowski has the showroom and teaching studios on the ground floor ; plans to renovate the second floor into a new 400-seat performance space and music history museum, as well as luxury condominiums on the top floor.

A view of the Centennial Bridge from a future penthouse condo on the third floor of the Sound Conservatory (photo by Jonathan Turner).

They want to raise funds for the upcoming holiday season, so NEST Café can expand its offerings, Kozlowski said.

“When I think people can’t eat on vacation, that’s not right,” he said.

The NEST concept offers donation suggestions for their meals.

“They’re trying to kill the stigma of, just because you don’t have money, you shouldn’t be allowed to eat healthy,” Kozlowski said. “The other thing I love about it, their chef is a phenomenal chef. Their food is delicious – we have lunch there regularly.

NEST Cafe offers all-you-can-eat nutritious meals at 1524 4th Ave., Rock Island.

“We love it, and their food is made from scratch,” he said. “These are healthy meals that aren’t just high in calories. They are nutritionally dense.

“We live in a country where poverty levels are skyrocketing,” Kozlowski said. “We are the richest country in the world.

“We have an opportunity here to help fight that, and to have an organization like NEST providing that – it’s just a perfect storm,” he said. “People can come and enjoy great music and great food, while helping people do the same for themselves and their families. This is just the beginning of our partnership with NEST.

Longer partnership with coffee

The Sound Conservatory plans to host events like this and work with NEST Café to cater for the majority of other events. They provided appetizers for the Sound Conservatory fundraiser on September 24, and Kozlowski received very positive feedback.

Pianos for sale in the Rock Island downtown showroom (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“The response on the food was just amazing; the crab cakes were amazing,” he said. “It was high quality food, so for us to be able to offer this kind of great food for our programs, while helping an organization raise funds, is quite a win.”

Richard Wagor, bassist of the Roots of Rhythm trio, is a professor at the Conservatoire du son.

They started with six teachers in the new space this summer and grew to 11, serving 160 students in total.

Andrzej Kozlowski with Kas Shewell (photo by Jonathan Turner).

Kas Shewell, a young singer-songwriter (and singing student), now works at reception.

“She’s one of my students and having a musician who is going into professional performance, working with the staff is the perfect storm that I’m looking for,” Kozlowski said.

They are also beginning repair and maintenance of guitars and will add a piano rebuilding factory. Kozlowski tunes, repairs and rebuilds pianos and works with Gene Taets at the Sound Conservatory.

There are about 16 pianos on the show floor, some of which have been sold.

The school and store also sell T-shirts, guitars, sheet music and other musical accessories (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“One thing I’ve given a lot of attention to is finding pianos that are great value for money, so people can express their interest in an instrument and not feel pressured to shell out their savings,” said Kozlowski. .

They have a pristine 1967 Steinway, for $16,000. “You won’t find this in any other store,” he said. There’s a seven-foot Baldwin concert grand piano also for $16,000 and a Wurlitzer upright piano for $3,600.

A social hour on October 20 will be from 6-6:30 p.m., and the show and dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are a minimum donation of $40/seat, available HERE. Tickets must be purchased online; they will not be available at the door.

For more information on Sound Conservatory, click HERE.

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