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April events at Vassar benefit the people of Haiti: the ninth annual Art Sale & Auction, April 9-11, and a benefit concert, April 24, 2010.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—This April, there will be two very special events at Vassar College to support the people of earthquake-devastated Haiti.
The Vassar Haiti Project will once again create an outpost of a Haitian Village with the ninth annual Haitian Art Sale and Auction, from Friday, April 9, through Sunday, April 11, in the multi-purpose room on the second floor of the College Center. A preview exhibition will be on view from April 4 to 7 in the Palmer Gallery, College Center. Proceeds from the art sale and auction will benefit the Haitian artisans, the village of Chermaitre, and earthquake victims.
On Saturday, April 24, the Department of Music and the Vassar Haiti Project will jointly present a benefit concert in the Chapel. “Harmony and Hope: A Musical Bridge to Haiti” will support the rebuilding of the Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince. Tickets to the concert are $10 for students; $20 for general admission (minimum donation). Donations of $50 and above will include admission to a post-concert President’s Reception.
This year the annual Haitian Art Sale and Auction (4/9 – 11) has taken on a very special significance for all concerned following the January earthquake.
“Though not directly injured by the earthquake, the villagers in Chermaitre in northwest Haiti and our contacts in Gros Morne and Cap Haitian are equally impacted by food and medical supply shortages and an influx of thousands of refugees,” advised Andrew Meade, director of international services and special projects at Vassar and co-director and founder of the Vassar Haiti Project (VHP) with his wife Lila. “In this time of great need, it is essential that we continue to provide support and relief to these communities and artisans, while at the same time maintaining our long-term commitment to the village of Chermaitre,” he emphasized. “Sales from our annual art sale and auction will be dedicated to this.”
In addition, the benefit concert in the Chapel (4/24) will support the rebuilding of the Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince.
“During the recent earthquake in Haiti, the Holy Trinity Music School, part of the historic Holy Trinity Cathedral complex in Port-au-Prince, was completely destroyed. The Salle St. Cécile, Haiti’s only concert hall, along with all of the school’s instruments and musical facilities, have been lost,” noted Kathryn Libin, associate professor of music and chair of the Department of Music at Vassar. “Our goal with this concert is to help Haiti to restore this essential part of its musical culture and, through the healing power of music, to recover from its many losses. Please join us in this musical celebration.”
“This year, through the the annual Art Sale and Auction and the benefit concert, we continue to celebrate the indomitable Haitian spirit—so vibrant, strong, and free that continually triumphs over disaster and adversity—and which is expressed so powerfully and colorfully in the nation’s artwork and music,” concluded Meade.

About the Haitian Art Sale and Auction (4/9 – 11):

The ninth annual Haitian Art Sale and Auction will feature over 300 paintings, sculptures, handcrafts, and hand-painted silk scarves, on view and for sale in the College Center’s multi-purpose room (second floor of Vassar’s historic Main Building) from Friday, April 9, through Sunday, April 11. An exhibition preview will be on view in the Palmer Gallery, April 4 – 7.
Some of the artists, whose work will be included are: Seymour Bottex, Reynald Joseph, Raymond Lafaille, Jean Laguerre, Fritzner Lamour, Mario Montilus, Fernand Pierre, Jean Adrien Seide, and Frantz Zephirin. The Vassar Haiti Project enables these Haitian artists and artisans to be self-sustaining through the sale of their artwork. The Meades noted that sales like Vassar’s are one of the only avenues for Haitian artists today to reach a marketplace.
Several people and businesses have donated art supplies, which the Meades and other VHP volunteers (now numbering over 100) sent on to the Haitian artists. This April, it will be possible to purchase a work of art that was created by an artist in Haiti artist from supplies that were donated by Hudson Valley businesses and individuals.
“The outpouring of support over these past years – and especially in wake of the earthquake – show the best of our global village,” noted Lila Meade.

The live auction will be conducted on Saturday, April 10, from 4:00 to 6:00pm by Bill Rinaldi of Rinaldi Auctions (registration and preview from 2:00 to 4:00pm). Absentee and telephone bidding will be accepted. A preview of the artwork is available at the Vassar Haiti Project website, http://projects.vassar.edu/haiti.

About the benefit concert “Harmony and Hope: A Musical Bridge to Haiti” (4/24):

The benefit concert “Harmony and Hope: A Musical Bridge to Haiti,” on Saturday, April 24, will feature hundreds of participants, with performances by nine musical ensembles drawn from Vassar College as well as from the Hudson Valley community. Sponsored by the Vassar College Department of Music and the Vassar Haiti Project, the program will begin at 7:00pm in the Vassar Chapel. Tickets are $10 for students; $20 for general admission (minimum donation). Donations of $50 and above will include admission to a post-concert President’s Reception. Tickets will be available in advance at the College Center Information Desk, located on the first floor of Vassar’s historic Main Building.
The three Hudson Valley ensembles that will participate in the concert are: the Cappella Festiva Chamber Choir, an auditioned choir of trained vocalists celebrating its 35th anniversary season, Christine R. Howlett, artistic director, and Susan Bialek ’86, conductor; two Stringendo ensembles: the Strawberry Hill Fiddlers, a group 18 classically-trained string players from Dutchess County-area high schools, directed by Emily and Carole Schaad, as well as the award-winning Vivace Orchestra, comprised of 34 high school students from the Dutchess County-area, directed by Jonathan Handman.

“I feel it is very important for the students in the Vivace Orchestra and the Strawberry Hill Fiddlers to learn about the role music can play in times of need,” noted Jonathan Handman, director of Stringendo. “The high school students who are members of the ensembles find this cause particularly resonant as it is on behalf of their counterparts who have been studying music in Haiti.”
In addition to the community musical groups, there will be six Vassar College ensembles featured in the program: the student-run Mahagonny Ensemble, dedicated to performing contemporary classical music, Mark Van Hare ’10 and Catherine O’Kelly ’11, conductors; the student-run Baroque ensemble, the Vassar Camerata, Emily Bookwalter ’10 and Nicholas Rocha ’11, conductors; the Vassar College Choir, an auditioned mixed choral ensemble of approximately 50 students, Drew Minter, conductor; the 20-piece Vassar College Jazz Ensemble, James Osborn, director; the Vassar College Orchestra, Eduardo Navega, conductor; and the Vassar College Women’s Chorus, Christine R. Howlett, conductor.

About the Vassar Haiti Project:

Co-founders Lila and Andrew Meade grew up in Haiti and were inspired to found the Vassar Haiti Project nine years ago with the goal to provide some help to the population of a country that even before this current disaster had 98% deforestation, 70% illiteracy, and 50% unemployment. Since its founding, the VHP has raised over $500,000 – through various efforts, including the annual art sale and auction. Through these funds, VHP has helped build the seven-room school in Chermaitre.
Today, the Vassar Haiti Project (VHP) has more than 100 members and is an all-volunteer Vassar College organization. VHP maintains its initial commitment to funding primary education, while also pursuing partnership efforts to improve reforestation, education, access to clean water, and healthcare in the village. These initiatives include planting thousands of fruit and coffee trees on the hillsides around Chermaitre; establishing water collection and purification systems in Chermaitre, with the cooperation of Poughkeepsie Rotary; and with support from the Trinity Church in Fishkill, establishing the first medical clinic in L’Acul (a neighboring village of Chermaitre) last June.
“Our goal has always been to create sustainability in our adopted Haitian community. During spring break this year a Vassar Haiti Project group – 12 students and four community members – will visit Chermaitre,” noted Andrew Meade. “The last time we visited was in 2008, when we were greeted after an hour-and-a-half climb by 150 schoolchildren serenading us in front of the newly-constructed school building. This year we will assess the progress of VHP’s initiatives as well as form a direct human connection with the villagers.”
The Vassar Haiti Project blog, http://blogs.vassar.edu/haitiproject, will provide a daily chronicle for the 2010 trip to Haiti and Chermaitre.
For further information about the Vassar Haiti Project and the ninth annual Haitian Art Sale and Auction, visit http://projects.vassar.edu/haiti. A video documenting the work of the Vassar Haiti Project, may be viewed on the website.

About the Department of Music:

Music has occupied a place of prominence at Vassar College since its founding, in its curriculum, faculty, student activities, and facilities. Formed in 1865, the Department of Music offers an extensive program encompassing opportunities for majors and non-majors to explore performance, composition, history, and theory in depth. Students are encouraged to gain a broad perspective in several or all of these areas. With a student-to-faculty ratio of approximately eleven to one, and an average class size of 15, the department is able to support individual students as they work to realize their full musical potential. For additional information and details about the Vassar College Department of Music, please call (845) 437-7294 or visit the website http://music.vassar.edu.
Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at www.vassar.edu/directions.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, March 11, 2010