Group teams with other performers, organizations for marathon concert
It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon when an earthquake measuring a calamitous 7.3 on the Richter scale devastated the island nation of Haiti, leaving more than 230,000 people dead, more than 300,000 injured and the country in chaos.
Those who survived the quake were left without food or drinkable water and shelter. Most of the buildings were in ruins, and those still standing were on the verge of collapse, twitching and shuddering through the aftershocks.
The world scrambled to respond, and now, a month later, relief efforts continue. But it is a Herculean task, with Haiti’s leaders predicting that it will take years for the country to recover from what was just the latest in a long history of disasters, both natural and manmade.
For some people outside of Haiti, the earthquake was little more than another set of horrifying images on the evening news — heartbreaking to see, but not something they felt the need to respond to.
Jonathan Palant was not one of those people.
"The earthquake in Haiti has affected the whole world, and everyone has a responsibility to do something about it," said Palant, artistic director of Dallas’ Turtle Creek Chorale. "To stand by and do nothing would be more than apathetic. It would be irresponsible.
"We can’t forget the tragedies we’ve had here in the U.S. We can’t forget Hurricane Katrina; we can’t forget 9-11. But this is Haiti’s 9-11. And we have to help."
That’s why, a little more than two weeks ago, Palant began working to organize "Voices for Haiti: An Emergency Benefit Concert Marathon" for Friday, Feb. 19, to raise money for the Haiti relief effort.
The list of performers include Turtle Creek Chorale, ENCORE!, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, Cathedral of Hope Choir and Orchestra, Men’s Chorus of Hamilton Park Baptist Church, Resounding Harmony, Liz Mikel, Linda and Larry Petty, Anton Shaw, Gary Floyd and the cast of Theatre 3’s "I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change," past winners of the Voice of Pride compentition, Texas Christian University’s Concert Chorale.
Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt will be participating and award-winning playwright Del Shores, author/creator of "Sordid Lives," will be on hand for some stand-up comedy and to sign autographs.
Admission to the concert will be a suggested minimum donation of $25, but those who can’t afford that much won’t be turned away, Palant said.
"That’s just a suggested minimum. We hope some people will give more, of course, but there may be some who can’t afford $25. We just want people to come and to donate what they can," he said.
Palant said that the performers asked to participate responded quickly and positively, and so did the individuals, organizations and businesses who are sponsoring the event.
American Airlines is flying in Shores to participate, and Caven Enterprises Inc. is donating publicity and water. A TCC member who owns a vending company is donating a variety of candy that will be sold, along with the water from Caven, during the event to help up the proceeds. Palant also noted that those who attend the concert and give a donation will receive an armband, and that anyone who has an armband from the concert can get into Caven Enterprises’ S4 bar free of charge on Friday night.
Other sponsors include Cathedral of Hope, Creative GrafX, Dallas Voice and radio station WRR Classical 101.1FM.
"Everything we need is being donated, and every effort is being given out of pure good will," Palant said. "This is an unbudgeted event for the Chorale, and the Chorale has not had to spend one dollar to put it on."
Because of that, he added, 100 percent of the money brought in by the concert will go directly to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to be used for Haiti relief efforts, and donations are 100 percent tax deductible.
Palant acknowledged that some people may not be able to — or willing to — sit through an entire six-hour concert. But, he said, "You don’t have to. Come early and hear Anton Shaw, or come later and hear the Turtle Creek Chorale. Have dinner and then come to the concert. Or come to the concert and then go have dinner. Or come and go and come back."
He also said that while the concert won’t be a celebration, considering the tragedy in Haiti, neither will it be "six hours of depression and sadness. "This will be an uplifting experience. It’s about coming together, from a community and from the grassroots level, to help people in need."
VOICES FOR HAITI
• A six-hour concert marathon to raise money for earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
• Friday, Feb. 19, from 6 p.m. to midnight, at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road.
• Suggested minimum donation of $25 per person.
• Performers/participants include Turtle Creek Chorale, ENCORE!, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, Cathedral of Hope Choir and Orchestra, Men’s Chorus of Hamilton Park Baptist Church, Resounding Harmony, Liz Mikel, Linda and Larry Petty, Anton Shaw, Gary Floyd and the cast of Theatre 3’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, past Voice of Pride winners, TCU’s Concert Chorale, City Councilmember Angela Hunt, Del Shores and more.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 12, 2010.