New Ensemble, New Community, New Perspectives

As a percussionist jumping into the CU Wind Symphony for the first time, I thought the tour to Haiti and the DR would be overwhelming: new people, new music, new cultures. In fact, I’ve really been embracing the new experiences here, and the community at large has embraced me back.

As for the new people, I’m so honored to be welcomed by the percussion section, the rest of the band, and the Saint Trinity musicians, all at the same time.

As for the new music, I’ve had to relearn how to function in a concert setting, since I haven’t performed like this since I played percussion in the Cornell Symphony Orchestra my freshman year (I am a senior now). Most of my recent percussion experience comes from the Big Red Marching Band Drumline, which approaches music very differently: very little sheet music, a lot of memorizing, and a whole lot of dancing and marching while playing.

As for the new culture, the trip thus far has been so unlike most service-learning tours that Americans usually hear about, where privileged people give “aid” to marginalized peoples (typically those who have been historically victimized by colonization and unwanted foreign intervention). So, the collaborative nature between us and the music school students has created a synergy, rather than an unrequited act of giving temporary aid. Instead, we are sharing music with each other and learning from each other. We have made our two worlds collide despite the differences in situation, race, and language. French is an official language of Haiti and I have been learning French for nine years, but the more widely spoken language is Creole. When I had conversations with the Saint Trinity students, they kindly adapted and spoke French with me. The Wind Symphony is not here with an agenda to gain anything or temporarily “help”, but rather to form a mutualistic and long lasting relationship through the medium of the universal language: music.

-Julie Kapuvari, Percussion