Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Power of Music

So what good is classical music, anyway?

It's a question many ask, and the answer, "classical music sustains the spirit," never seems to satisfy the naysayers. But consider the remarkable story of violinst Romel Joseph.

Joseph is no stranger to extraordinary challenges. This blind Haitian musician, born in poverty, won a Fulbright, and graduated from Julliard with a degree in violin performance. After training with the Boston Symphony, Joseph turned his back on a promising concert career to return to Haiti and open up a music school.

The recent earthquake collapsed his school, pinning the violinist under the rubble. So how did he survive, buried by debris, waiting for rescue that may never come?

Romel Joseph prayed, and pictured himself performing the Tchaikovsky violin concerto. And after that, another concerto.

"I know I picked the Brahms, the Franz, the Sibelius. I picked several," Joseph said later. "I know a lot of concertos for violins. And I picked the longer ones. I pictured walking on stage and playing to a full hall. And you start playing up to the end"

Eighteen hours later, rescue workers pulled him from the debris.

Romel Joseph has dedicated his life to music. In addition to his New Victorian School in Haiti, he also established the Miami-based Walenstein Music Organization to nurture young classical music performers. He's already working on rebuilding his school.

What good is classical music? Ask Romel Joseph. In the darkest hours of his life -- as it always has -- classical music sustained his spirit.

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