March 3, 2010

Instrumental in helping Haiti


— By . KIM

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Robert Moody directs the Portland Symphony Orchestra during an open rehearsal Sunday at Merrill Auditorium. More than 250 people attended the rehearsal, donating nearly $5,000 for Haiti relief efforts by the Konbit Sante group.

Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

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Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Carol and John Furman seized on the chance to sit in on a rehearsal of the Portland Symphony Orchestra while supporting Haiti earthquake relief efforts at the same time.

They weren't alone. The special fundraiser for Konbit Sante Cap-Haitien Health Partnership drew more than 250 people to Merrill Auditorium on Sunday morning. The Portland-based organization supports the public health system in northern Haiti, with much of its work centered at the Justinian Hospital in Cap Haitien, a sister city to Portland.

When news of the earthquake in Haiti broke, PSO Executive Director Ari Solotoff got in touch with Konbit Sante. He was already familiar with the organization through its founders, Wendy and Michael Taylor.

Within several days, the arrangements had been made to open the ''Head and Heart'' rehearsal to the public and collect donations for Konbit Sante at the door. The PSO's rehearsals, which are open to students free of charge, typically draw 50 to 75 people.

Sunday's open rehearsal -- PSO's first such fundraiser for another organization -- raised more than $4,900, said Emily Gilkinson, Konbit Sante's operations manager. Donations were also being collected at the door for the afternoon performance.

''It's wonderful,'' Gilkinson said. ''People in the community are taking an interest and making a connection.''

The rehearsal event was just one of a number of fundraising efforts for Konbit Sante's earthquake response fund. Konbit Sante set up the fund with $25,000 and soon received another $50,000 in contributions. A telethon sponsored by the city and WGME-TV netted an additional $66,000.

The Furmans, who are musicians and teachers living in Gray, liked feeling that their money would go to good use.

''If it's affiliated with the Portland symphony, we feel it's a pretty solid organization to donate to,'' John Furman said during the intermission. ''They have such a fine reputation for quality.''

The ''Head and Heart'' program included Ravel's ''Pavane for a Dead Princess,'' Mozart's Symphony No. 25 in G minor and ''Headcase'' -- Brett William Dietz's contemporary ''opera introspective'' about his recovery from a stroke he suffered at age 29.

''This program is all about music and healing,'' Solotoff said.


Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:


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