Sunday, January 31, 2010

Images from Symphonic Relief for Haiti concert

Today Longwood Symphony Orchestra and New England Conservatory joined together for "Symphonic Relief for Haiti," a concert that brought out the best in all of us, to raise funds for Partners In Health and the people of Haiti. Thanks to all the hard-working people at New England Conservatory and The Rendon Group.

  • 150 musicians graced the stage of Jordan hall, spanning in age over six decades, from student to seasoned professional
  • Student musicians representing The Boston Conservatory, Boston University, Longy School of Music and New England Conservatory played side by side with members of A Far Cry, Jupiter String Quartet, and Longwood Symphony Orchestra
  • Star emcee Joyce Kulhawik added sparkle, heart and passion to the performance
  • Haitian Consular General Gabrielle Dupiton and State Representative Linda Forry spoke on behalf of Haiti
  • Suzanne Battit, Director of Development for Partners In Health spoke on PIH's behalf
  • Dr. Allen Counter, who has recently returned from a humanitarian mission to Haiti, read the words of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, to "grow into your ideals so that life can never rob you of them."
From this concert, hundreds more have learned about Partners In Health, and learned about what's going on in Haiti.

From this concert, we have raised nearly $90,000 and are still totalling today's proceeds.

Angel 1

On Friday, Haitian-born Jean Bernard Cerin, who opened the concert with a moving rendition of "Grief," shared with us how important this concert was to him. It was an opportunity, he said, to do something for his people in Haiti. In the audience today was his mother. She had just flown in from Haiti to hear her son's performance. After the concert, Mrs. Cerin described the day of the earthquake. She said she was just entering a supermarket when the ground began to shake and the market itself began to undulate. She spoke of a hand of an angel, the woman next to her, who grabbed her arm and made her run back outside. A minute later, the market was flattened. When they could see again ("I was blinded") as the dust settled, her thoughts went to her daughters, who were at home. She returned home to find that half the house had collapsed during the quake. Miraculously, the family was in the other half of the house. All had survived. It was for these who survived and those that were lost that Jean Bernard sang...about weeping angels and the promise of a white dove.

Angel 2

This morning, just as I was leaving for the concert, the phone rang. It was Jonathan McPhee at the airport in Toronto, where delays and security snafus had caused him to miss the flight that would have brought him to the concert hall in time for the performance (The Boston Ballet had just performed in Ottawa's NAC the night before). Could we ask Larry Isaacson, the cover conductor for the day, to step in for this concert?

Larry was terrific, and ran a superb rehearsal, but after all that we had put into creating, organizing and producing this concert, not to mention Albert Schweitzer Portrait itself, it would still not be quite the same without Jonathan.

But Jonathan himself had just met an angel named Naresh in the Toronto airport's baggage claim. Having heard the story of our remarkable concert, and how important it was for our Maestro to be there, Naresh made phone calls, smoothed paperwork and facilitated arrangements so that Jonathan was suddenly on the next plane to Boston. Thirty minutes before LSO was to walk onstage, Jonathan McPhee touched down at Logan Airport and led the Albert Schweitzer Portrait after all.

Once again, the words of Albert Schweitzer resonate:

"Joy, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter-- to all these music gives voice, but in such a way that we are transported from the world of unrest to a world of peace, and see reality in a new way."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Symphonic Relief for Haiti: Words of a song that speak volumes

In keeping with its mission to Heal the Community through Music, Boston-based Longwood Symphony Orchestra and New England Conservatory present Symphonic Relief for Haiti at NEC’s Jordan Hall, Sunday January 31, 2010, 12:30—2 p.m. Artistic Director Jonathan McPhee will conduct LSO, an orchestra whose membership is comprised mainly of health care professionals representing nearly every medical institution in the city, and musicians from NEC will perform.

Among the performers are two with Haitian backgrounds: baritone Jean Bernard Cerin, a Master's degree candidate at the Conservatory whose family survived the Haiti earthquake but is living outside of the home in fear of aftershocks; and 17-year old Haitian-American violinist Aurélie Théramène, a student in Project STEP whose family in Haiti has also been deeply affected by the disaster. Aurélie will offer a work by J.S. Bach.

Jean Bernard will sing "Grief" by William Grant Still, with words by Langston Hughes:

Weeping Angel on pinions trailing and head bowed low in your hands.

Mourning angel with heartstrings wailing for one who in death’s hall stands.

Mourning angel silence your wailing and raise your head from your hands.

Weeping angel on your pinions trailing the white dove promise stands!

Proceeds will benefit the Stand With Haiti initiative of Partners In Health, the non-profit, Boston-based health care organization created in 1987. Longwood Symphony has had a longstanding relationship with PIH, which was one of the orchestra's Community Partners in 2006.

All musicians are donating their time and expertise to this ambitious effort because of their beliefs that music builds human capacity, elevates the soul, and prepares students for lives that enhance the public good.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Calling all Musicians: Healing Haiti through Music


A Global Concert to benefit Partners In Health

January 31, 2010

Longwood Symphony Orchestra invites musicians around the world to join in a global effort to heal the Community in Haiti through musical performances.

We have all been struck by the horror and tragedy that has occurred in Haiti. As musicians, what can we do? LET’S DO WHAT WE DO BEST.

Longwood Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra of Boston’s medical community, invites musicians across the world to raise their voices and instruments as a unified musical community to perform a global concert to benefit Partners In Health.

The goal of
Symphonic Relief for Haiti is:

• to raise $250,000 through the gift of music for the humanitarian work of

Partners In Health in Haiti
• to honor the men and women

of Partners In Health who are giving

their time and expertise

• to stand in solidarity with local Haitian communities

The objective
for these concerts is to raise $250,000 for Partners In Health to support the ongoing relief work that we know must continue for years, even after the initial flurry of interest has waned.

Join us in this global effort through your gifts of music, song and financial support. Please notify us of all scheduled concerts and it will be posted on the Symphonic Relief for Haiti website.

What you and your ensemble can do:

If you have concerts already scheduled during the weekend of January 30-31:

Make an appeal from stage asking your audience to donate to Partners In Health

Ask volunteers to collect funds during intermission

Create an event page on PIH’s website, with the title listed as “Symphonic Relief for Haiti

Insert an envelope for Partners In Health in your program books

Direct your donors to donate online:

If you do not yet have a concert scheduled:

Hold a chamber music cultivation event at the home of a sponsor

Offer to perform in the Haitian community, seek sponsorship

Perform in a hospital in support of physicians traveling to Haiti, collect funds in the lobby

Direct your donors to donate online:


Once you have collected funds from your event, you can donate online at

You can also write a check of the entire sum to Partners In Health. Please indicate that the contribution is part of Symphonic Relief for Haiti and mail to: Symphonic Relief

c/o Longwood Symphony Orchestra

P.O. Box 886

Brookline MA 02446


  • Please invite all of your musicians to think of ideas to creatively be a part of this movement, as a full ensemble and individually.
  • Let us know what/where/when/funds raised! We are working on a Google map that can show ALL of the concerts happening around the world.
  • If you have a press release about your project, please send it to us at so we can post it on our shared website.
  • If you have any other ideas, feel free to contact us at or 617.667.1527.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A visit to Boston's Health Care for the Homeless Program

by Lisa M. Wong, M.D.

My life is my argument. --Dr. Albert Schweitzer

In October 1991, I participated in a remarkable two-day symposium organized by the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. The occasion was the launch of the Schweitzer U.S. Fellows Program. The topic was to consider the community health challenges that Dr. Schweitzer might have faced were he a healthcare provider in Boston in the 1990s.

A remarkable group of leaders was convened, joined by medical students, staff and patients . We focused on the topics of AIDS, Domestic Violence, Children's Health Disparities, and Homelessness. The two-day conference, which overspread every available meeting space in the city of Boston, culminated in a Reverence for Life concert performed by Longwood Symphony Orchestra, violinists Dr. Stephen Frucht and Lynn Chang, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The symposium was conceived and facilitated by Judge Mark Wolf and Dr. Lachlan Forrow with the youthful enthusiasm and energy of Schweitzer fellows, including two remarkable medical students, Philip Pulaski and Alison May.

LSO's Healing Art of Music program, the centerpiece of its programs, was created in response to the Reverence for Life concert. We looked out at the sold-out concert hall and could not help noticing the empty seats - empty for a reason -victims of domestic violence could not appear in such a public space, and homeless could not make the 10:00 curfew if they attended an 8:00 performance. The music and this realization had a significant impact on the audience and an equally profound impact on the musicians themselves. It was after that concert that LSO decided that each performance should support and raise awareness for a medical charity.

It was also at this remarkable, life-changing event that I met Dr. Jim O'Connell, founder and President of Boston's Healthcare for the Homeless Program and practicing street physician. Our friendship has continued since that time, as has my deep admiration for his commitment and humanity.

In 2003, Longwood Symphony Orchestra collaborated with BHCHP to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of Barbara McInnis House. This was one of the first major fundraising initiatives BHCHP had ever endeavored, and it was extremely successful, engaging new corporate donors and empowering their Board members. We worked together again the following year, raising community awareness and significant funds.

Over the years, we have developed a relationship with McInnis House, meeting with Dr. Robert Taube, Executive Director, and sharing music with the residents. One of our violinists, Jennifer Chang, has even spent time on the wards here as a medical student. Since 2003, LSO has continued to play annual chamber music performances for McInnis House patients.

In 2005 BHCHP launched a major fundraising capital campaign for the building of a new facility. The new Jean Yawkey Place was dedicated in May 2008, and members of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra were there to play at the opening.

Just last week, on January 11, I met Jim O'Connell and Cheryl Kane for my own long-awaited tour of the new facility. What I saw and learned is an inspiration.

Here is the model of a medical home, not just for Boston's homeless, but for the wider community. It is a medical home in which a patient is known and respected. He walks through the door and his doctor greets him by name. "Hey, Joe. How's the leg doing now?" A nurse guides a patient down the stairs to the pharmacy that is conveniently located adjacent to the clinic. Patients are admitted directly upstairs to McInnis House or across the street to Boston Medical Center. There is dental care, social services, and psychiatry, all housed within the same facility. These are not "easy" patients, but they are treated with dignity, respect and professionalism.

Our visit upstairs to tour the new Barbara McInnis House includes meeting with the caring people in the Admissions Department, the dedicated chef who gave up a successful restaurant career to serve, and the newly admitted patient who shares his thoughts about his challenging social situation.

This is how medicine needs to be practiced, not just here in a hospital for homeless individuals but across the country. But there is one more surprise in store.

Back at the medical clinic. Jim introduces me to two of his dedicated medical colleagues. It takes me a moment to recognize them.

I am surprised but then not at all surprised to find Drs. Philip Pulaski and Dr. Alison May here in the clinic, having dedicated their lives to working with the homeless. They are the same two Schweitzer fellows I met at the Reverenc For Life symposium in 1991, nearly twenty years ago!

The result of the voyage does not depend on the speed of the ship, but on whether or not it keeps a true course. --Dr. Albert Schweitzer