Beyond the Headlines: Haiti in Music at Unity Temple | Concert preview
The Crossing Borders Music Collective explores Haitian identity in its inaugural concert.
“I want to provide audiences a way to look at Haitian culture other than what we see in the news,” says cellist and music educator Tom Clowes. “Yes, it’s very poor economically, but also very rich in art and culture.” Since 2000, the Rogers Park resident has spent almost every summer in the remote Central Plateau village of Cange, where he teaches at the Holy Trinity Music School summer camp. “During many of my trips there I’ve played chamber music by Haitian composers and realized that they were almost entirely unknown—not just in this country, but in Haiti, too,” he says. Determined to expose North American audiences to Haitian music, Clowes has spent the last five years putting on benefit concerts showcasing music by Haitian and Latin American composers.
“I’m interested in works that explore the concept of Haitian identity,” Clowes says. “Most Haitian composers combine Haitian, African and voodoo elements with Western-style classical traditions.” With that in mind, Clowes and several others set up the nonprofit Crossing Borders Music Collective last December. “Beyond the Headlines: Haiti in Music” is the group’s first concert and features string quartets led by Haitian composers Claude Dauphin and Jean “Rudy” Perrault. Other composers on the program include former Holy Trinity Philharmonic Orchestra director Julio Racine, 18-year-old music student Sabrina Jean-Louis and Trinity School affiliates Fritz Bernardin and Robert Durand. Proceeds from the concert benefit the charitable organization Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti.