After a quick visit to the Haiti Youth Orchestra in December, it was very clear to me that the Haitian musicians had improved immensely from June. Like usual, I spent several hours working with the musicians: first listening to the amazing new music they had learned since I last visited them, then leading clinics, working with the strings, and teaching master classes. After two days of working with them, Maestro Mackly politely asked that I please leave so the orchestra could have a ‘closed rehearsal’ preparing for the concert that evening. Maestro Mackly later explained to me that the concert featured us Americans as their “special guests” and he didn’t want us to hear them play before this special concert.
That night, we were, once again, shocked by the amazing spectacle of the concert. Set in the church jam-packed with hundreds of local Haitians, the orchestra wowed us all. This nearly 2-hour performance featuring speeches by Maestro Mackly, Pére Alphonse (the priest of the Episcopal Church in Mirebalais) and several orchestra members proved just how proud the members and the community was of their Haiti Youth Orchestra. The program included a beautiful flute duet of the popular American piece “Say Something,” Christmas tunes such as “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells”, and finally “The Star-Spangled Banner”! It was a beautiful week.