Downtown Publication

May 3, 2011

Academy of the Sacred Heart Leaders of Conscience Concert
By Sally Gerak

So how did international award winning concert pianist, composer and beauty Marina Arsenijevic land in Bloomfield Hills when she immigrated from her war torn Yugoslavia in 1999? “I came to Michigan because one of my bipartisan Congressional (immigration) co-sponsors was Congressman Joe Knollenberg. The other representative was from Chicago. I liked Oakland County better than Cook County,” she explained following her concert April 14 in the chapel at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. It was a passionate, powerful performance, made even more so thanks to the three perfectly positioned cameras that captured Marina’s slender, strong fingers for display on the video screen above her. We later learned the talented AV guy, Blue World Productions’ Russell Sumner, was a perfect choice for the assignment because he was trained as a classical pianist.

Marina was the third recipient of the ASH Leaders of Conscience Award honoring those whose ethical lives and work inspire hope and optimism. Her compositions blending ethnic music have led to her hallmark “Unity through Diversity” concert. It gained national prominence when she performed it at West Point with the cadets’ glee club and band and subsequent broadcast on PBS. During the intermission of her concert at ASH, Sr. Bridget Bearss, when she presented Marina the award, noted that Marina and her music “…have brought the world together and made dreams possible.” Marina thanked ASH for recognizing her immigrant message and concluded the concert with “America the Beautiful”. At the afterglow which followed, event co-chair Hilary Hayes Bradley mentioned that she first met Marina and heard her play “America the Beautiful” in 2003 at the opening gala of the Colorado Music Festival when her father Jim Hayes was the festival chairman and CEO. “It was written in Colorado Springs and when Marina played her version of the song in that place it absolutely brought the house down. It was incredibly moving,” recalled Bradley. Learn more about Marina’s incredible talent and journey at

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