Music Alchemy : The Press


A chamber music concert for Haiti

Posted February 9, 2010 11:55 AM
By Andreae Downs
Globe Correspondent

For violist Gillian Rogell, chamber music is all about connection. A long-dormant one was just renewed after the Haitian earthquake Jan. 12 and has led to a benefit concert for the stricken island.

Rogell's connection to Haiti dates from 2000, when she read a front-page Boston Globe story about three sisters with a fierce interest in music in Port-au-Prince.

"I wanted to do something to change the world a bit for the better," she said.

So in 2001, Rogell raised funds through her non-profit, Aspinwall Hill Foundation for Chamber Music for two of the Tatgrin sisters, Debora and Francoise to visit Brookline. There they attended the New England Conservatory's Festival Youth Orchestra Summer Program, lived in Rogell's home for two weeks, and were taken around the state by the local Haitian community.

The girls, then 13 and 15, returned to Port-au-Prince and all three continued to thrive. Until the quake, Francoise studied law and was pursuing a master's degree, Debora was studying international relations, and the youngest, Rebecca, was a nursing student.

They remained in touch with Rogell, who started trying to reach them as soon as she heard of the Jan. 12 tremor.

After about a week, she succeeded through Facebook, which for some reason was more reliable than email or the telephone. All survived, although Rebecca, who was in class when the quake hit, was injured. They now live on a sidewalk, since their home was destroyed.

Now Rogell is planning a Feb. 28 concert to benefit the Partners in Health Haitian initiative. The concert will feature some of the 14 chamber groups she coaches professionally.

"I was planning a concert anyways to showcase the more advanced groups, and then the earthquake happened," Rogell said.

Other local entities have pitched in: St. Paul's Episcopal Church is donating the concert space; Trader Joe's is donating food for the reception.

A chamber Music Relief Concert for Haiti will feature selections from Beethoven, Brahms, Baksa, and Poulec, Sunday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 15 St. Paul St., Brookline. Suggestion donation of $10 at the door. All proceeds benefit Partners in Health Stand With Haiti initiative (www.pih.org). For details, visit www.MusicAlchemy.net.

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