Young Canadian fiddler raises funds for Beirut

Max Francis, a fiddle player who put on a fundraising concert for Lebanon, stands next to his father, Aaron Francis.
Max Francis, a fiddle player who put on a fundraising concert for Lebanon, stands next to his father, Aaron Francis. Photo submitted by Aaron Francis.

“Thank you everyone for tuning in, I’m so happy to be here with you tonight,” says 9-year-old Max Francis, of Vancouver.

“This is my concert for Beirut, I’m raising money to help children and families in Lebanon.”

Max is sitting in a chair and holding a fiddle at the ready for a 40 minute Facebook livestream fundraiser concert held on August 18th, 2020. As of November 1, 2020, it had received 1.6K views.

The concert raised just over a thousand dollars, which Max donated to the Humanitarian Coalition.

“It was a family effort,” says Aaron Francis, his father, who played guitar alongside his son in a few of the songs.

The livestream concert included a few popular songs on the guitar, like ‘Heart of Gold’ by Neil Young, and ‘Blowing in the Wind’ by Bob Dylan, but mostly featured Max playing the fiddle and playing some of his favourites, like ‘Fly in the Rain’ by Calvin Vollrath and ‘La Fée des Dents’ by André Brunet.

When asked about his son’s musical talent, Aaron says that Max has already surpassed him. Max has been playing the fiddle for three years now, and has already written his own fiddle tune, ‘Mommy’s Waltz’, which he has dedicated to — you guessed it — his mother.

It all started with simple curiosity. He grew up with instruments in the house, and when he picked up the fiddle, he just wanted to try it. He also plays the guitar, the ukulele and the piano.

Aaron says that this is not Max’s first fundraiser – he’s been playing his music from a young age at community fundraisers or volunteering his talents in senior care homes. “We have tried to bring Max up within a community that values caring, compassion, and global awareness,” he says.

“He understands that music has the power to connect people heart to heart.”

When the explosion happened in the port of Beirut, Max knew he wanted to help the people of Lebanon. Keeping in mind COVID-19 and personal safety, Max asked his parents for help setting up a virtual concert, a livestream on Facebook that could be shared with friends and family.

The family chose the Humanitarian Coalition because they wanted to make sure their funds for Lebanon would go to a trusted Canadian organization.

“I would like to give my love and many big hugs to the people of Lebanon,” says Max, “especially the children in Beirut, who are struggling in this hard time.”

When Max is not playing music or fundraising to help others around the world, he likes to practice judo, or go for a bike ride with his father.