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The donor: Arthur Lewinowicz

The gift: Creating the Power of Strings Foundation

The reason: To teach children to play the violin

Arthur Lewinowicz began playing the violin at 4 and he has since become an accomplished musician, composer and teacher.

He always wanted to do more than perform and a few years ago he launched Toronto Singing Strings, a violin program for children. Mr. Lewinowicz, 27, developed the curriculum, sourced inexpensive instruments and provided mentoring opportunities for students. He also started the Power of Strings, a private foundation that provides instruments and free lessons to students from low-income families.

Singing Strings teaches a wide variety of styles – from classical to jazz and even hip hop – and it grew to 350 students. “I was just trying to teach a lot of kids how to play violin and make it cool for them,” Mr. Lewinowicz recalled from his home in Toronto.

Everything took a turn last September when Mr. Lewinowicz was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He underwent several rounds of chemotherapy, but the disease had spread to his lungs. He recently had surgery to remove several tumours in one lung and went into cardiac arrest during the operation. He’s now recovering and even composed some music while in hospital. But he faces more surgery.

He’s had to suspend Singing Strings while he recuperates, but a group of friends has organized a concert to raise money to keep it going. The event is on March 8 at Toronto’s Relish Bar and Grill and it will feature eight artists. “He’s an amazing musician,” said singer-songwriter Linda Lavender, who is organizing the concert.

Mr. Lewinowicz is planning to attend and play a set. And when parents of his students ask whether Singing Strings will restart, he replies: “Absolutely. Call me back after March break," he said. "I’m planning on going skiing, too, so I better be fine.”