Utah Symphony musicians hold fundraiser for Haitian Orchestra Institute | ParkRecord.com

Utah Symphony musicians hold fundraiser for Haitian Orchestra Institute

Haitian Orchestra Institute Assistant Conductor Pierre Leroy, front and middle left, stands with Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer in front of the 2018 HOI Orchestra in Cap Haitien. Utah Symphony musicians travel to Haiti to teach free workshops to Hatian music teachers, who make up the HOI Orhcestra.

Fundraiser for Haitian Orchestra Institute 6 p.m. on Monday, March 18 Julie Nester Gallery, 1280 Iron Horse Drive $125 RSVP to Heather Weinstock 801-869-9011 hweinstock@usuo.org

Each spring members of the Utah Symphony travel to Haiti to work with music students at the Haitian Orchestra Institute (HOI).

Most of the students, who come from a national network of 30 schools, are music teachers themselves, so training from the Utah Symphony musicians helps them with their livelihoods, said cellist John Eckstein.

“Many of the musicians we work with rely on their instrumental abilities to make a living,” Eckstein said. “We’re directly enhancing those abilities, and helping them pass on the best information possible to their students.”

Unfortunately, this year’s mission, which was originally planned for April 1 to April 7, has been delayed due to civil unrest and protests against Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, in Port-au-Prince. The protests have become violent enough for the United States State Department to recently issue a ‘do not travel’ advisory for anyone who plans to visit Haiti, according to Eckstein.

The Utah Symphony is a leader in music education on a national level…” John Eckstein, Utah Symphony cellist

“The delay is frustrating, but we are in this for the long term so we decided to hold the fundraiser as planned. The money we raise will be ready for when we are able to go,” he said.

The event, sponsored by Jim and Barbara Gaddis, the Shiebler Family and the Wieler Family foundations, is set to be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 18, at Julie Nester Gallery, 1280 Iron Horse Dr. Tickets are $125 each, and RSVPs to Heather Weinstock are due before or on March 12. RSVPs will be accepted by phone at 801-869-9011 or email athweinstock@usuo.org.

The evening will feature performances of Bach’s Third “Brandenburg Concerto;” Vivaldi’s “Summer” from “The Four Seasons” with Utah Symphony Concertmaster Madeline Adkins; Mendelssohn’s “Octet” and other selections.

Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer is scheduled to speak as well.

If people can’t attend the salon, they can still donate by visiting usuo.org/give and selecting Haitian Orchestra Institute Fund from the drop down menu.

The money raised will go toward a life-changing experience for the Haitian students, Eckstein said.

“We typically have 105 students who participate, and not only is there no tuition, but we pay for their bus travel, room and board,” he said. “We each donate our time and part of our travel expenses, so all money raised goes directly to hard costs. We don’t even have any administrative costs to speak of, so If you’re looking for a ‘bang for your buck’ charitable mission, this is the one. We’re bringing world class expertise directly to those who want it, and we’re doing it for free.”

There are 18 Utah Symphony musicians who will travel to Haiti when the advisory is lifted, Eckstein said.

The musicians represent all the orchestra’s instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion.

“It’s been so easy to gather a faculty of USUO musicians to give their time and expertise,” Eckstein said. “There are more symphony members who want to do this than we have spots to accommodate them in any given year.”

The Haitian students who participate in the workshops have ranged in age from 15 to 44, and are selected through auditions, Eckstein said.

“Auditions take place in Haiti and are run by our partner organization, BLUME Haiti,” he said.

BLUME is an acronym for Building Leaders Using Music Education.

“The Utah Symphony is a leader in music education on a national level,” Eckstein said. “We play for more school kids than other orchestras in the country, and nearly all of our members teach. It’s part of our fabric.”

Haiti has long been one of the most underdeveloped nations in North America and is still recovering from the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that killed thousands and exacerbated the country’s existing problems. This was why the Utah Symphony musician’s decided to bring their skills to the country, Eckstein said.

“In a place like Haiti, music is a tremendous social equalizer,” he said. “It opens doors in a way that we might not even imagine here.”

Not only does music help with problem solving, it helps develop self-esteem, strengthen memory and improves concentration, according to a Stanford University study.

“We offer a platform for the students to work directly with professional musicians,” Eckstein said. “These students also participate in the Institute Orchestra that is conducted by an internationally renowned conductor, our Maestro Thierry Fischer. It’s the highest-level musical training platform that is available in Haiti.”


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