Music to help Hurricane Dorian response cause

Valerie Coleman and Caiti Beth McKinney will perform at Saturday's Bahamas relief concert. Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami

By Amanda M. Perez

Valerie Coleman and Caiti Beth McKinney will perform at Saturday's Bahamas relief concert. Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami

Music to help Hurricane Dorian response cause

By Amanda M. Perez
The University of Miami Frost School of Music will host a benefit concert to help those impacted by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.

As the South Florida community continues to find ways to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian, the University of Miami Frost School of Music is using the power of music to support those in need in the Bahamas.

“Watching the footage of the devastation made me feel compelled to help in any way I could,” said Charles Bergeron, associate professor of professional practice in Studio Music and Jazz.

It was that feeling of despair that inspired Bergeron to organize a benefit concert that would help aid the Bahamas. On Saturday, Sept. 28, a wide variety of faculty members and students will come together and perform at the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall all in hopes of raising funds.

"As South Floridians, we all know the devastating effects of hurricanes and it is our humane duty to take part in helping our neighbors in the Bahamas. As performing artists, Frost students and faculty are fortunate that, through the power of music, they can reach out to the public to support our community in times of need,” Bergeron said.

Bergeron said he first announced that he would be leading the effort to produce the concert during a Frost faculty retreat on campus earlier this month shortly after the hurricane struck the Bahamas. He could not believe the overwhelming help and response he received since the announcement. Assistant Professor Valerie Coleman was one of the many faculty members who immediately reached out to help his cause.

The internationally acclaimed, Grammy-nominated flutist, composer and entrepreneur recounts, “I automatically thought this needs to happen. I felt strongly about it and moved to the core. I knew I wanted to participate in it.”

Coleman, along with a variety of artists from all genres have offered their talents to bring Bergeron’s vision to life.

“We are going to have a huge program of incredible music,” Bergeron said. “It’s an eclectic concert. The performances will cross a broad spectrum of music, from classical to jazz and contemporary. Everybody in the South Florida community is welcome to attend and donate anything they can afford.”

Caiti Beth McKinney, a doctoral of Musical Arts in Horn Performance will be one of the many students performing. She thinks it is an incredible gift to have the opportunity to perform music for such an important cause.

“I clearly remember the damage our campus suffered after a minor brush with Hurricane Irma, so I can’t even imagine the devastation and suffering in the Bahamas right now,” she said. “I believe that as students at UM and members of the South Florida Community that it is our responsibility to send whatever aid we can.”

McKinney will be joining Coleman along with other faculty members on stage to perform an African-American spiritual.

“This concert really inspired me to dig into Bahamian culture and music,” said Coleman. “I quickly realized that there were many parallels between African American music and Bahamian culture. At the end of the day for music to survive, we need to declare our artistry and we need to honor the artistry of those around us.”

Both Bergeron and Coleman hope this concert will spread awareness.

 “When catastrophe strikes, people stand together for a while and then forget it happened because it becomes old news. I want people to remember that there are many who are suffering. Bahamians are beautiful people with a beautiful culture. We cannot turn a blind eye,” said Coleman.

“We want to get as much money as we can to them immediately. Looking into the future, I hope that we can do these kinds of events every year,” said Bergeron. “There are so many other causes out there that could use our love and support.”

Tickets to the relief concert are free, but donations can be made online at this link: www.miami.edu/dorian