Loyola University Chicago

Department of Fine and Performing Arts

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Sebastian Agignoae Founds Organization To Serve Displaced Musicians

Sebastian Agignoae Founds Organization To Serve Displaced Musicians

Loyola alumnus Sebastian Agignoae (BA ‘16) embodies the Ignatian call to serve others in his work with The International Orchestra of Refugees, which uses music as a transformative medium for peace and social change. 

“At the intersection of magis and ad majorem dei gloriam, Loyola University Chicago instilled in me the drive to strive for excellence for the greater glory of God.”

When Sebasian was 23, however, he discovered that his father was a Romanian refugee who fled from the communist regime in his country.

“I finally understood my father and no longer looked at him as a hard, Central European man, but an individual with a story of tragedy, burden, and resilience.”

Like his father, there are an estimated 68 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. In response to this humanitarian crisis, Sebastian was called to founded the International Orchestra of Refugees (IOR) as a way of empowering displaced musicians to become musical ambassadors for peace, through orchestral opportunities and community building. 

Using the leadership skills he built at Loyola along with his passion for music, Sebastian set out to partner with organizations that would be interested in supporting the IOR’s mission. 

“Loyola fostered an environment that helped bring the International Orchestra of Refugees to life in its own inimitable way.” 

Sebastian’s efforts to gain support and increase the visibility of IOR have recently flourished. In 2019 IOR Delegation participated in the United Nations Glogal Engagement Summit. he was invited to the Glogal Engagement Summit at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, has received national media coverage, and grown its Board of Directors, which includes Loyola Director of Music, Anthony Molinaro 

In 2019 Sebastian began to pursue his MA in Pubic Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. IOR was accepted to the Venture Incubation Program at Harvard University, a 12-week incubator where ventures like IOR can explore, develop, test, and further refine ideas, alongside a network of highly-curated advisors and mentors. In February 2020, IOR was named a Semi-Finalist in Harvard University’s 2020 President’s Innovation Challenge, and is in the running for the Bertarelli Foundation Prizes totaling $150,000 awarded to the grand prize and runner-up winners. 

For Sebastian, music "enables peace-building by bringing different people together in shared and communicative experiences.” Through the International Orchestra of Refugees, Sebatian brings together his pasion for music, his leadership skills, and his family's history in the service of others.