CU Wind Symphony Tour to Haiti and the Dominican Republic
The CU Wind Symphony unites student musicians in an ensemble dedicated to the study and performance of emerging and traditional wind repertoire. Recent Wind Symphony performances have featured guest artists Joshua Redman and Wynton Marsalis, and guest composers David Maslanka and Patrick Williams. The ensemble also explores music making as a vehicle for cross-cultural exchange and collaboration, and in doing so supports Cornell's core values of public engagement and global awareness. The 2019 CU Wind Symphony service-learning tour to Haiti and the Dominican Republic has been crafted to serve those goals, and is part our ongoing collaboration with the Holy Trinity School of Music in Port-au-Prince and the Carol Morgan School in Santo Domingo. We are seeking financial support to offset travel expenses for both Cornellians and our Haitian colleagues, build a supply of instruments and supplies for the Holy Trinity School of Music, continue to develop reciprocal exchange between the participating institutions, and highlight Haiti’s rich musical community in the face of continued hardship after the 2010 earthquake.
In January 2017, the CU Wind Symphony collaborated with 100 musicians from the Holy Trinity School of Music and members of the Yale Concert Band in concerts staged in the country's two largest cities, Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien. The first performance was held at the Kiosk Occide Jeanty amphitheater, adjacent to the presidential palace and built over a mass grave of thousands killed in the catastrophic earthquake that struck the city seven years earlier. Dignitaries in attendance included Provisional President Jocelerme Privert, and leaders of all nationally recognized religions. Each spoke to the importance of peace, reconciliation, and remembrance. "This concert," President Privert said, "is far from lighthearted, and was organized to remind us of our missing brothers and sisters."
Shown below, the CU Wind Symphony and Holy Trinity School of Music orchestra rehearsed with conductor David César.
After traveling north, we took part in a gala concert at Palais Sans-Souci, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near the town of Milot (shown below). (The stage was designed by architect Frederick Mangones, Cornell '73, and built specially for our performance.)
The Holy Trinity School of Music currently maintains an enrollment of approximately 1,500 students and a teaching staff of 45 full and part-time professionals, and is located next to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the primary church of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, in Port-au-Prince. Formerly located across from the Presidential Palace, the school moved into a new four-story building in November, 2009, but it was demolished two months later in the earthquake that ravaged the city. In the following image, HTSM director The Rev. David César stands in the foreground while members of the school pull instruments from the wreckage.
With nothing left and many of their friends and family members killed, surviving members of the School decided to take to the streets and play for their community. Still in shock, the young musicians instinctively turned to what they know best: the power of music. They played to lift the spirits of those in despair, honor those who had perished, and ease the fear and anxiety of those still searching for loved ones.
Members of the Wind Symphony and the Holy Trinity School of Music relaxed after our combined concert.
Leaders and members of the participating organizations gathered for a news conference hosted by the Haitian Ministry of Culture.
After leaving Haiti we spent two days at the Carol Morgan School in Santo Domingo. Shown below, Cornellians collaborated with members of the CMS bands and rehearsed for a joint concert. We used music to find common ground, and to bridge divides between culture, background, and language. Performing was, of course, only one aspect of the tour.
Reciprocity is an important part of our collaboration with Haitian musical organizations. Earlier this semester the Wind Symphony welcomed RAM, a nine-piece band based in Port-au-Prince that plays a drum-focused mix of Vodou rhythms and American rock. The following photo shows members of RAM teaching member of the Wind Symphony to play Haitian Rara horns.
From January 7-17, 2019, the CU Wind Symphony will visit Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, Santo Domingo, and Punta Cana, and make musical memories that will last a lifetime. Please visit our website for tour updates and student blogs: https://cuwinds.com. We so appreciate you taking the time to learn about our cause, and thank you for your support!
In addition to financial donations, we are accepting wind and percussion instruments, supplies (e.g., reeds, cases), and accessories for the Holy Trinity School of Music. Please contact CU Wind Symphony conductor James Spinazzola (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you wish to make a donation. We have partnered with Hickey's Music Store, and are happy to provide a valuation for tax purposes.