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A Requiem For Haiti: Hartford-Area Musicians Holding Benefit Concert Sunday


January 22, 2010

Watching the devastation in Haiti on TV, Jack Pott of the Hartford vocal group Voce and his family made a donation to help with relief efforts. Like a lot of people, he figured that was all he could do.

But this Sunday, he and scores of other Hartford-area musicians will contribute to the cause with a concert. Pott heard about the performance this week and signed on immediately.

"It seems like the best and right thing to do," he said.

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra and singers from several choirs will perform Gabriel Fauré's Requiem at Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford at 3 p.m. All musicians, singers and stage hands are donating their services, and all proceeds will go to the American Red Cross to help Haiti's earthquake victims.

Tom Cooke, executive director of Voce, said he and artistic director Mark Singleton were in the choral group's office earlier this week when they got a message from a friend.

"He said, 'I really think musicians in town ought to do something.' Mark and I looked at each other and said, 'He's absolutely right.' Within hours, we have the Hartford Symphony Orchestra saying, 'This is great.'"

Meghann Eckenhoff, the HSO's director of artistic operations, said her organization jumped at the chance.

"We basically said yes before talking to anyone," she said. "We had to be involved with this. It's just a great cause."

Because of limited space in the church, only part of the HSO will perform (there will be a solo by violinist Leonid Sigal).

It didn't take the musicians long to decide what to perform.

"The Fauré Requiem is just a magical piece," Cooke says. "And if you look at the text, there's a lot about protecting oneself from storms. It's just one of the real gems."

Audience members will be asked during a break in the performance for donations.

"The goals of this are twofold," Cooke said. "One is to give thanks for what we have, while we're trying to reach out to this completely devastated country."

Pott also thought the Requiem was a good choice.

"It begins with 'Grant them rest eternally,' and for the thousands who perished in this, that's a wonderful sentiment," he said. "It's a beautiful major work, and it's a comforting piece of work as well."

While many other requiems take on a certain grandiosity, Pott said, Fauré's has a particular warmth.

He hopes the concert serves as a "moment of solace," especially for those with connections to Haiti.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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