Tag Archives: Haiti

Haiti Blog, Pt. 4

Day 7 – Saturday, April 1, 2017

All of the rehearsals and concerts having been completed successfully, we enjoyed our day off at the beach.

A spontaneous ball game began with locals and several musicians.

The local kids were very friendly and open.



 Day 8 – Sunday, April 2, 2017

Being a Sunday, the Mission Aviation charter flights were not available to transport us back to Port-au-Prince, so various groups, depending on their return flight schedule, made the arduous trip over the mountains in shuttle vans. There were unforeseen complications when the early morning group had to stop and wait as some nearby villagers had created road blocks with bonfires, large boulders and smaller rocks and broken glass strewn across the only road up to Port-au-Prince. Apparently, it was a protest against the government because the villagers were without electricity for four days. What was a 15 minute flight at the start of the trip was a 3 or 4 hour journey by vehicle.

Luckily, the roads were eventually partially cleared, and all parties were able to make their flights in time. Considering what a large scale trip with so many components this was, the week went remarkably smoothly, a testament to Janet’s planning skills, knowledge of Haiti and the students as well as John and Yuki’s efforts at organizing the week. And best of all, the heart of our mission, which was about the music and teaching was a resounding success!

Haiti Blog, Pt. 3

Day 5 – Thursday, March 30, 2017

The fourth session with the students further coalesced the music students and faculty, and we worked on strengthening each section and some specific spots that Maestro Fischer had mentioned needed work.

The students also told their coaches what issues had come up in the full orchestra rehearsal, and the sessions were increasingly easy and efficient.

In the afternoon, many of the faculty members rehearsed for the evening faculty chamber music concert to be held in the orchestra rehearsal space at the school.

That evening, the concert was packed with the students and many musicians and supporters from the community.


Day 6 – Friday, March 31, 2017

The student orchestra dress rehearsal took place in the morning, to be followed with sectionals and lessons with the Utah Symphony members in the afternoon, and the much anticipated final concert at night followed by a banquet for all back at the music school.

A large church, which was also a multi-purpose venue, served as a rehearsal and concert space for the day, and the students adjusted quickly to the new acoustics of the very live hall.

Some of the brass and lower strings took the afternoon off from sectionals to preserve their “chops” after a very intense week of constantly rehearsing and practicing.

The program for the evening:

Gabrieli – Brass ensemble work arranged by Jeff Luke
Schubert – Unfinished Symphony (first movement)
Percussion ensemble led by Eric Hopkins
Lamothe (Haitian composer) – Danza No. 4 (Canes Nicolas conducting)
Beethoven – Symphony No. 5 (first movement)
Bizet – Selections from Carmen: Prélude, Aragonaise, Les Toréadors
Grieg – “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt

The exuberant students celebrate a successful week at the post-concert after party.

Haiti Blog, Pt. 2

Day 3 – Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The teaching schedule now started in the mornings, from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, with the bus picking us up early to take us to the school.

After teaching, we were free to stay in town for lunch, or to return to the hotel for beach activities or rest. Meanwhile, Janet had been driven all the way back to Port-au-Prince to welcome Maestro Thierry Fischer. Violist Roberta Zalkind had had a chamber music concert on Monday in Salt Lake City, so she and Scott Harrison, teaching a music management course also arrived Tuesday.

The three plus Janet took a 5 seater plane from Port-au-Prince in time for Fischer to conduct the afternoon full orchestra rehearsal. 

Utah Symphony trumpet player, Jeff Luke had arranged a Gabrieli piece for large brass ensemble, to be rehearsed that afternoon and conducted by Fischer. 

Jeff hopped on a motorcycle taxi (moto) to the school and watched some of the rehearsal with the maestro. 

Maestro Fischer at his first rehearsal with the orchestra, working on Beethoven 5.



Day 4, – Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The morning was once again dedicated to sectionals, technique class and private lessons as each instrument group got to know their Utah Symphony coaches better, and the coaches grasped and addressed the technical issues and challenges for the students.

In true Haitian style, it became clear at the last minute that a tap tap (a covered pick-up truck with wooden slats for seats) would be available to transport us to Bassin Bleu and back for an afternoon faculty outing.

The musicians thoroughly enjoyed the natural swimming hole despite the rustic transport.

The viola faculty have assembled: Whittney Thomas and Roberta Zalkind

Haiti Blog, Pt. 1

Sixteen members of the Utah Symphony and our Music Director, Thierry Fischer, traveled to Haiti to work for one week with 113 of Haiti’s most dedicated music students and teachers. In association with the American non-profit BLUME Haiti (Building Leaders Using Music Education) this group would collectively create the first ever Haitian National Orchestral Institute. The colonial seaside town of Jacmel, Haiti was the setting for this meaningful and groundbreaking week.


Day 1 – Sunday, March 26, 2017

Many of us took red eye flights immediately after finishing the all-Bach concert at Abravanel Hall. After various layovers, the musicians arrived in Port-au-Prince where an arranged shuttle took us to Hotel Kinam for a one-night stay before our 15 minute long charter flight with Mission Aviation (doesn’t fly on Sundays) to Jacmel the next day.



Day 2 – Monday, March 27, 2017

The hotel shuttle took us through the winding streets of Port-au-Prince to the charter flight section of the airport where every piece of luggage, passenger, and carry on was weighed with care. We had booked a nine seater plane to fly us in two shifts. Upon arriving at the small landing strip in Jacmel, Janet Anthony, the president of BLUME Haiti, greeted us.
The bus that we had hired for the week (for student and faculty transport) took us to the hotel. When the whole group had arrived in Jacmel, we were bussed into town to greet the whole student orchestra briefly.
The 100 plus music students had already gathered in Jacmel from all parts of Haiti, and were already rehearsing with Haitian conductor, Canes Nicolas, in preparation for Thierry Fischer’s arrival the next day.
After lunch, the first session of teaching (sectionals) began. Afterwards, the faculty had dinner together at Hotel Florita, an historical coffee merchant house in the historic downtown district on a cobblestone street.

Haiti Mentors

Musician mentors share some thoughts on the first Haitian National Orchestral Institute project

David Porter, Violin

Lee Livengood, Clarinet

Maestro Thierry Fischer, Conductor & John Eckstein, Cello

David Binder, Trombone

Stephen Proser, French Horn

John Paul Lucas, Luthier

Mercedes Smith, Flute

Roberta Zalkind, Viola

Yuki MacQueen, Violin

Anne Lee, Cello

Whittney Thomas, Viola

Claude Halter, Violin