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November 1, 2017IM -
Nearly one month after damage from Hurricane Maria left 10% to 15% of Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra members homeless, the orchestra began a series of free concerts to help heal the island’s people. The orchestra’s musicians are members of Local 555 (San Juan, PR).
“Our idea is to play for those who need more,” says Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra Music Director Maximiano Valdés in a WBUR radio interview. “There are many people left with nothing here.” The themes of the concerts, which include both classical and traditional Puerto Rican music, will be loss, survival, and rebuilding.
Local 555 President Miguel Rivera, a trumpet player, also took part in the radio interview. He said the needs of the people go beyond food and water. “The people of Puerto Rico need food for the soul, I think. And music for me, is the best art because it goes right to your heart,” he says.
The first concert was performed October 13 in San Juan. The goal is to bring music to the hearts of many of those affected by the hurricane. The musicians plan to perform throughout November, not only in the capital city, but also in smaller interior cities.
“I think it is very important that we start performing as an orchestra and reaching out to people because we need to feel hope and I think music helps us feel hope,” says piccolo player Ana María Hernández. “Music is the universal language, and it can definitely heal people.”
Composer and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda’s benefit single, “Almost Like Praying” continues to raise funds for relief. NBC aired a special about his fundraising efforts on October 24 for the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS hurricane relief fund.