Category Archives: Haiti/DR Blog 2017

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Palace update!

More to come, but here’s a quick picture of our concert last night at the Palais Sans-Souci with the HTMS musicians!

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Midday on the Mountain

Most of the ensemble today headed out for a trip to the Citadelle before our afternoon rehearsal and performance at the Palais Sans-Souci. On the way, they ended up meeting the U.S. ambassador, who will also be at the concert later. Who would have thought! I hope to have one of them tell us more about it later, as I spent my morning relaxing at the hotel, ensuring I was fully recharged for the afternoon. I stayed behind with a few other folk, and eventually–getting a bit antsy–we ventured up the trails behind our hotel. The hotel is built into the side of a mountain, as many structures here are, and affords beautiful views of the city below. From what we could see, the city is bustling with people in markets and on the streets, and looks to be less congested that Port-au-Prince. I hope to see more of it when we head to the palace (not much was going on last night in the rain when we first arrived).

As for the afternoon, from the pictures I’ve seen of the palace and the stage that’s been built, I can only assume it will be amazing. I’m looking forward to both performing again with our Haitian friends and seeing the castle grounds. Very grateful to those who set up the concert and who physically built the stage, right at the base of the main palace steps.  I was also hoping to have time to sing with the Haitian choir, as some other ensemble members and I are also in choirs back at Cornell, and the Haitian choir sounds beautiful. If we get the chance, I’ll be sure to update, but if not I am content just being able to listen to them.

–Jonathan Karsch, saxophone, president, healthy ensemble member

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Our Haitian Trek

So far I’ve only been helping others post their thoughts on here, but it’s been an interesting day and seemed as good as any for me to take the reins. Why so interesting? The weekly concert at our hotel–featuring the RAM band–was last night, and played until about 4.5 hours before we had to wake up, eat breakfast, and head out to Cap-Haitien. It was well worth it, though, and a solid way to unwind after our first performance here. Aside from the expected delays and stop-and-gos we have become accustomed to, many ensemble members also felt a bit under the weather, all in unison (but all are now in fine health, after a day of travel and rest). That’s not to say it wasn’t an enjoyable 10 hour busride through Haiti. Whaaaattt, 10 hours?? Haiti’s not that big, right? Well no, but buses and narrow, mountainous roads do not a smooth ride make.

The scenery, however, was wonderful (in between attempts to sleep off our sickness). For me, it provided a great contrast to the New York geology I usually associate with hilly roadways (see below). Our trombonist Hendryck, who spent some of his formative years in Port-au-Prince, remarked how incredible it was to finally venture out of the city and see the Haitian coast. I think he takes the cake for most positive attitude of the day. But aside from the difficulties of transporting a hundred musicians across a country, the journey made it evident how difficult it is to rebuild and distribute aid after a natural disaster. If it took us 10 hours to travel up the coast, I can only imagine what it was like helping victims of Hurricane Matthew a few months ago, in the southwest of the country.

–Jonathan Karsch, tenor saxophone, CU Winds president

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CU Winds unites student musicians in an ensemble dedicated to the study and performance of emerging and traditional wind repertoire. We explore music making as a vehicle for cross-cultural exchange and collaboration, and in doing so support Cornell's core values of public engagement and global awareness.