A mixed crowd of both students and New Haven residents filled nearly all of Woolsey Hall’s 3,000 seats for the Yale School of Music’s Yale-New Haven Benefit Concert Friday, the first of several weekend events in a campus-wide effort to raise funds for tsunami relief.
Featuring performances by a volunteer orchestra, the Yale Glee Club, the Yale Camerata and the Yale Concert Band, the event’s organizers hoped to use music to facilitate a spirit of compassion following the late December tsunamis that ravaged South Asia. Music School Dean Robert Blocker spearheaded the fund-raising effort after local musicians, as well as New Haven Symphony members, expressed interest in staging a benefit concert.
“We didn’t really set a goal monetarily,” Blocker said. “Basically, we wanted a whole hall filled — we wanted as many people to come as possible. We had an opportunity, we had community, and whether we raised $100 or $100,000, it was a chance for us to show our compassion and concern for our fellow men.”
Maestro Shinik Hahm conducted an orchestra comprised of volunteer musicians from the Yale Philharmonia, the New Haven Symphony and the Yale Symphony Orchestra. The musicians performed Mozart’s Symphonia Concertante and Barber’s Adagio for Strings after just one rehearsal, which took place the same day as the concert.
“The music selection expresses our feelings towards the sad events,” Hahm said. “Some of our members are from those countries which have been deeply damaged, so we tried to express plaintive feelings for the families, relatives and friends.”
After an opening address from University Secretary Linda Lorimer, a number of religious Yale students — representing the Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Christian faiths — addressed the audience by reciting prayers.
Vivek Kasinath ’06, a Hindu, delivered a Sanskrit prayer. The Yale Chaplain’s Office asked Kasinath to deliver the prayer because he is on the membership list for the now-defunct Yale Vedanta Society, “the only religious” Hindu philosophy study group, he said.
“The one that I chose to recite specifically dealt with death,” Kasinath said. “It’s telling the most famous prayer about death, and it may be more appropriate than others because it focuses on the external aspect of the soul, rather than the departure of someone from the worldly world.”
Though the exact amount of proceeds raised will not be known for several days, all profits will go to the American Red Cross. Still, Hahm de-emphasized the monetary aspect of the concert, instead insisting that celebrating music as a form of outreach is most important.
“I try not to get any applause for myself,” Hahm said. “You bow to your audience because the music goes to the victims and it comforts everyone who had a terrible feeling about the incident. I feel I still want to do something more, but at least I started something.”