pianist finds time to help
Unlike most kids his age, Chris Scherna's
ears don't perk up at the sounds of rock bands like
Maroon 5 or hip-hop artists such as 50 Cent. For him, it
is Oscar Peterson, a renowned Canadian jazz pianist that
sets his toes a tapping.
|THE QUEENS COURIER/PHOTO BY
An aspiring pianist, Chris
Scherna spends much of his time during the summer
working with Jazz for Peace, a non-profit
organization that performs benefit concerts for
other groups in need of funding. Scherna's role it
to find the local organizations that the concerts
raise money for.
A junior with a 91.5
average at Townsend Harris High School in Flushing,
Scherna spends his spare time uniting the world through
jazz. A pianist, Scherna hails from a long line of
musicians; his grandfather, Frank Hays, was a jazz
pianist and his uncle, Kevin Hays, is a well-known
pianist in Europe.
Given this family background,
Scherna was destined to discover Jazz for Peace, a
non-profit organization that performs benefit concerts
to help raise funds for fellow non-profit organizations,
while he was searching for volunteer extracurricular
activities to impress admissions counselors for college.
Scherna doesn't take part in the actual concerts. His
role is to find the local organizations in need of
funding that the concerts raise money for.
proud to be able to say that I'm doing meaningful
volunteer work and that I'm giving back to the community
directly," he said. "I enjoy doing it. It's cool being
able to go to concerts that you helped
Founded by Rick DellaRatta in 2001,
Jazz for Peace had an impressive debut; DellaRatta led
an ensemble comprised of Israelis, Palestinians, Asians,
and European jazz musicians at the United Nations.
DellaRatta has been especially impressed
with Scherna. "Chris stands apart as a lot of young
people don't understand the importance of our country's
greatest art form - jazz," he said.
experience all the world has to offer, Scherna's
exceptional academic record has garnered him invitations
to several International Conferences and
When he was 14 years of age, Scherna
went to the United Peace Summit- International Day of
Peace. Thirty kids from all over the globe - including
students from France, Israel, and Japan - met to learn
and discuss various international issues and
It was there that Scherna discovered
that despite differences in religion and cultures people
"have one goal and that is to come
Recently Scherna, a Holliswood
resident, returned from two-and-a-half weeks in Ankara,
Turkey. He was one of six kids chosen at Townsend Harris
for the Linking Individuals, Knowledge, & Culture
(LINC) Program sponsored by the U.S. State Department's
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Department to
encourage understanding between different cultures and
"Amazing," Scherna said of the trip
overseas. "I knew nothing about Turkey. I only knew that
it was 99% Muslim and it borders Iraq, Iran, and
He was struck by how modern Istanbul is.
He did not expect to see commercial strips like those in
the New York City metropolitan area, "though they were
much quieter, and not as busy," he noted.
was surprised to discover that Turkey was a democracy -
separated by church and state. Relying on images in the
American media, he expected it to be a very religious
country ruled by Muslim theology.
myriad experiences thus far, it is no wonder that
Scherna's future aspirations are just as broad. He is
uncertain but is considering a career in physics,
chemistry, or politics. As it stands, Scherna is already
a musician, world traveler, and peacemaker and he has
not even graduated yet.