After a busy hurricane season, many thousands have had to rebuild their lives, feeling the hard effects of all-too-real catastrophes. SFCM student Ashlyn Herd ’18 feels that extra attention should be given to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“After the two hurricanes that rocked Houston and Florida in September, there was a lot of destruction and devastation that followed,” says Herd. “Luckily, both regions were prepared for the weather and received large amounts of money from the government to get back on their feet.
“In the case of Puerto Rico, which was hit by two hurricanes less than a week apart, the communities weren’t prepared and they haven’t received the same amount of aid that Florida and Texas received,” she says. “Donor fatigue can be very common in these types of situations, but I am determined not to forget the people of Puerto Rico.”
As a response, she has organized a benefit concert at SFCM for the victims of these storms in Puerto Rico.
“More people have died post-hurricane because they do not have the adequate resources to even keep the hospitals running,” she says. “I was getting sick of just watching the news and feeling hopeless, so I talked to a few students, and many were feeling the same way I was.”
Ultimately—and fittingly for SFCM students—music was the answer.
“In times like these, it's very easy to feel numb to the constant suffering,” says Daniel Gelman ’18, a trumpet major participating in the concert. “This benefit recital is a wonderful idea and opportunity because it allows us musicians to make a difference in something that really matters.”
Gelman will perform “Erstarrung” from Schubert’s Winterreise at the concert. He notes that “Erstarrung” translates to “Numbness,” a metaphor for the perceived collective reaction to these recent disasters. “While the exact reasoning for the numbness may vary from person to person, I think it's safe to say many people can relate to the pain portrayed in this song,” he says.
All the participants have selected works that speak to grief and loss, but also carry a sense of optimism. Other works to be performed include Brahms’ “Wie Melodien zieht es mir,” Jake Heggie’s “I Shall Not Live in Vain,” and Handel’s “Come Unto Him” from Messiah.
“I am hoping that our music can stir up some emotions in everyone to give what they can,” says Herd. “We are all here to study music because we love it, so why not use our passion and talent for something positive? I am truly proud that this will be a one hundred percent-run student recital, and I am grateful for the support of the Conservatory administration for their facilities and guidance in putting it together.”
The concert, Staying Afloat: A Benefit Recital for the People of Puerto Rico, takes place Monday, November 6 at 8:30 PM. There is a suggested donation of $10 and one hundred percent of the proceeds will go directly to the Red Cross’ Puerto Rico relief fund.