The Vienna Philharmonic has put €25,000 towards buying and renovating a former inn in St Aegyd, and it has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise a further €75,000.
In a statement, it said it decided to take direct action with a sustainable project to help some of the thousands of refugees who have been arriving in Austria over the past months.
Andreas Grossbauer, chairman of the orchestra, said the project is not just about a humanitarian attitude but also about “encouraging an understanding in which everyone can benefit long term – the communities and our own society.”
The building will house four refugee families and will also function as a meeting place and according to the orchestra, “a place for cultural dialogue”.
The house will be managed by the Diakonie Refugee Commission, but Grossbauer said that Philharmonic members will remain “personally connected” with residents of the home through benefit concerts and other activities.
The project has the backing of conductors Sir Simon Rattle, Christoph Eschenbach and Daniel Barenboim.
German-born Eschenbach, who was orphaned during World War II, said: “I was a refugee. I know exactly what a refugee must go through who has suffered, for example, in Syria, under the Assad Regime and finally, somehow, finds his way out and then is confronted with the question: 'Will I be accepted or not? Will I survive or not?' We have to help.”
Daniel Barenboim called it “an absolutely necessary campaign” during “an extraordinary time in human history”.
People who donate money to the crowdfunding project are offered incentives ranging from one of the orchestra's recordings (for a €30 donation) to a standing ticket to the orchestra's world-famous New Year's Day Concert for a donation of €500.