Locals, music lovers, and good samaritans responded to the story of Nico, the homeless musician, who was robbed at knifepoint of his 125 year-old violin given to him by his late mother. After weeks of organizing, a group of benefactors was able to gift Nico with a replacement violin, his sole source of income.
“I am eternally grateful for the response by the community,” said an emotional Nico. “While my mother’s violin had great meaning to me, I am very happy to be playing again in the North End.” Nico became a victim of what he called “junkies” coming through the Prado late at night and robbing the homeless that sleep there. Though he kept the violin his mother gave him strapped around his body when he slept, one of the robbers literally cut if off his body.
Nico’s benefactors include Barbara Thomas, Berklee College of Music and Engineering, Philip Lima, Asst. Chair of Berklee College of Music Voice Department and Paul Dulude, proprietor of New England Violins, who donated the violin. Making the connection to Nico were David Oriola, local music manager along with North Enders, Heidi Noce and Leslie Horn. The latter raised over $2,000 in a successful GoFundMe campaign to replace basic necessities (socks, etc.), offer gift cards and a pre-paid phone helping Nico get back on his feet.
David Oriola presented Nico with the violin during the weekend San Gennaro Feast in the North End. After a quick warm-up, Nico was once again playing for the public at the feast itself, courtesy of organizers Frank DePasquale, Nick Varano and Pasquale Trotta.
Though still shaken by being mugged, Nico said the North End remains the best place for him to play violin on the Freedom Trail at the Paul Revere Mall, known as the Prado. He encourages locals and visitors to stop by and hear him play.