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K-State Today

January 31, 2012

Music professor receives Yale alumni grant

By Nora Lewis

Nora Lewis with Jean Clinton at L'Ecole de Musique Dessaix-Baptiste in Jacmel, Haiti,  January 2011

Nora Lewis, assistant professor of music, was awarded a $6,000 grant from the Yale AlumniVentures program to provide new intermediate-level woodwind instruments for students at L’Orchestre Obed Lominy at L’École de Musique Dessaix-Baptiste in Jacmel, Haiti. Lewis and her husband, double bassist Gordon Lewis, volunteered as teachers and performers in the school's classical and jazz programs in January 2011.

This community music school was founded in 1996 by the citizens of Jacmel, with the ambitious idea to bring music to impoverished and orphaned children, whose performances would advance the cause of music and benefit the entire community. Since that time, this idea has flourished and the school currently has more than 900 students. Staffed by a core of Haitian musicians and volunteers from throughout the world, the school is supported by international and domestic partnerships such as UNESCO, FOKAL, Save the Children and the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program-U.S. While the initial grant from UNESCO allowed for the purchase of 300 instruments, many of those instruments were lost or damaged in the Januray 2010 earthquake.

For Haitian musicians and the broader community, music is the currency of hope and in Jacmel, the community is inspired by music performances. Concerts given by the school draw enthusiastic audiences who emotionally connect with the music and fill the 300-seat auditorium beyond capacity. This grant will help provide two oboes, one flute, one clarinet, and reeds that are greatly needed for the creativity of these passionate and dedicated young musicians to flourish. The Yale AlumniVentures program is sponsored by the Yale University School of Music with the purpose to advance the cause of music.

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