Performing Arts Center honors Katrina victims

050902-N-5328N-228 New Orleans (Sept. 2, 2005) - Four days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast, many parts of New Orleans remain flooded. The Navy's involvement in the humanitarian assistance operations is led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in conjunction with the Department of Defense. U.S. Navy photo by Gary Nichols (RELEASED)

Written by: Abigail Bowes/Contributing Writer

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center is hosting a concert in honor of those devastated.

“[The concert is an] all-encompassing musical journey that celebrates people that are still striving to overcome the hardship that we face,” said Brenton Alston, School of Music assistant professor.

“Chimes of Freedom: Hurricane Katrina,” will be the first performance in the Chimes of Freedom concert sequence, which deals with four major historical events, said Alston, the concert’s conductor.

The second installment of the concert features music written in honor of the victims of WWII and Vietnam. The third will celebrate the triumph of the American Spirit.

Finally, the fourth installment will honor the victims of the Holocaust, which will end with a performance of David Maslanka’s “Remember Me.” The final concert will take place Wednesday, April 13.

Alston said the title, “Chimes of Freedom,” was inspired by by Bob Dylan, who expressed solidarity for people who are treated unjustly. Dylan believed that thunder rumbles in sympathy for them.

“Chimes of Freedom,” allows people to come together and connect with each other, said Michelle Vires, School of Music junior accountant manager. She said people affected by the hurricane need to heal through music.

“Music brings people together in spite of all adversity. It’s like therapy,” Vires said.

The University’s Wind Ensemble, which consists of students playing wind and percussion instruments, will showcase their talent at the concert. The music has some jazz influence, while still including other musical genres like Calypso.

Calypso is West Indian music using African rhythm, typically with words improvised on a topical theme.

Alston said that even though the concert is titled after the hurricane, the music shows meaning to other historical natural disasters.

“Regardless of its name, this concert is not only about Hurricane Katrina,” she said.

“Katrina, sure, but it’s a much larger issue. [It’s about] all of the inevitable natural occurrences and how we deal with them.”

Both Alston and Vires agree that natural disasters have been a recurring feature in the news and that this concert will shed light on the devastations and foster a sense of community among those who attend the event.

The concert yearns to create a connection through music, said Vires.

“Music serves a variety of purposes — entertainment, emotional, educational — and it’s our job to do all of those things,” she said.

With the use of today’s technology, a greater audience is connected to music, said Alston.  

“With the onslaught of technology and the instant availability of so much with the click of a smart device, there’s a connectivity that you can’t replace,” Alston said.

He also said that despite the good uses of smart phones, he hopes that they will not be a distraction to bringing the audience together in memory of the devastations.

These natural occurrences are a big concern, especially in Florida, Alston said.

“[There are] all these different struggles. Maybe it’s not just environmental, but [it is] also about what we do to each other, so [it’s about] humanity.”

He said the concert is meant to impact people’s lives.

“I really like the way they are trying to increase solidarity by putting this concert on,” said Schnaida Cazeau, a psychology major student.

“They’re helping people to have a place to come together and reflect on an extremely important event in U.S. history,” she said.

Tickets cost $5 for FIU students, and $10 at the door, and for the general public. The concert will be held at the Performing Arts Center Concert Hall Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Image courtesy of Creative Commons

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