Katrina benefit raises voice
A little over a month after Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast, the Conservatory held a benefit concert on Monday in collaboration with Cleveland radio station WCLV and the American Red Cross to raise money to help with the relief effort. The concert was broadcast live on the radio and featured the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra, the Oberlin Musical Union and the Oberlin Jazz Septet.
“Giving to this cause is one of the most important things we can do in the United States,” said David Stull, dean of the Conservatory, in a speech before the concert.
The audience recognized this, and in spite of a small turnout, the concert raised about $3000 at the door in voluntary donations. Also, as a result of the radio broadcast, the Red Cross had terrific web and phone donation activity that night, though an exact total has not been reported yet.
Perhaps the audience might have been a bit larger on a different day; Monday night was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It was the only time the concert could happen given tight schedules both on the radio and in Finney Chapel, where the concert was held. The schedules of the various performance ensembles also had to be accommodated.
“In the end, it was a choice between having a fundraiser on Rosh Hashanah or not having one at all,” Stull said.
He also attributed the small turnout in part to the fact that many people in the area had already given money to the cause.
“There was a flurry of donations soon after the hurricane hit,” Stull said, “but as time wears on, we tend to forget that the need is still urgent. We are very proud of all the students who participated in the concert and enormously grateful to everyone who gave money.”
The evening got off to a rather bland start, with the Chamber Orchestra playing sections of Hector Berlioz’s Romeo et Juliette under the baton of Timothy Weiss. The piece began with slow, yearning melodies in the string section. The music was picked up by the winds and eventually arrived at a lively dance section.
The piece paled in comparison to the next one, Igor Stravinsky’s Le Chant du Rossignol, an orchestral adaptation of sections from his opera Le Rossingol. The piece had a much fresher sound, and even though it was far more challenging technically, the orchestra seemed to play it better than it did the Berlioz.
The piece demonstrated Stravinsky’s mastery of color and orchestration. Concertmistress Yuncong Zhang and principle flautist Insung Baik were featured prominently.
Next the chorus, conducted by Professor Hugh Ferguson Floyd performed two sections of the Mozart Requiem, accompanied by Daniel Tappe on the Finney organ. The chorus performed well, as did Tappe, but the use of organ instead of the orchestra for which Mozart scored the piece was questionable. The organ gave the piece an artificial, almost circus-like sound.
After an intermission, the Jazz Septet played three pieces: “Stars Fell on Alabama,” “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans” and “Bright Mississippi.” The first two were subdued, mellow tunes, and they were played with an incredible sense of nostalgia. For “New Orleans”, the group brought out Nina Moffitt, a first year in the College, to sing. Her clean voice fit the song perfectly. The final piece was more upbeat, and highlighted the virtuosity of the performers.
“One of the great ways to bring any community together is through song,” Stull said, when he returned to speak at the end of the concert.
On that note, the audience was invited to join in the singing of
“Amazing Grace,” once again accompanied by Tappe on the organ. It
all grew louder with every verse, culminating in a plagal cadence, which left
the audience with a sense that something had been accomplished.