VHP to host Haitian boys’ choir for charity

Les Petits Chanteurs, which translates to “The Little Singers,” will perform at Vassar on Sept. 20, the first day of Freshmen Families Weekend, to raise money for their school. Photo By: Veterens’ Children
Les Petits Chanteurs, which translates to “The Little Singers,” will perform at Vassar on Sept. 20, the first day of Freshmen Families Weekend, to raise money for their school. Photo By: Veterens’ Children
Les Petits Chanteurs, which translates to “The Little Singers,” will perform at Vassar on
Sept. 20, the first day of Freshmen Families Weekend, to raise money for their school. Photo By: Veterens’ Children

Are you searching for something fun to bring your parents to as an appetizer for Freshman Families Weekend? Are you ready to listen to some fantastic music? Look no further—this Friday the 20 at 7p.m. will see a concert featuring Les Petits Chanteurs (or “The Little Singers”), an all-male SATB choir of thirty students from the Holy Trinity Music School, located in Port-au-Prince, the only music school in Haiti.

The concert will take place on the second floor of the All Campus Dining Center (ACDC), with room for about three hundred people. The boys, led by their director Jean-Bernard Desinat, will be singing a selection of music, possibly including Haitian folk songs, spiritual songs, and religious music.

Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students aged five to eighteen, and free for children younger than five. All proceeds from the concert will go toward this project.

The Vassar Haiti Project—which was founded in 2001 by Assistant Dean for Campus Life and Director of International Services Andrew Meade and his wife Lila—started planning the event in June. VHP will be tabling in the College Center prior to the performance, and tickets will also be available at the door.

Les Petits Chanteurs will be accompanied by a chamber ensemble from the Holy Trinity Music School and will follow performances by the Vassar College Choir and the Vassar College Women’s Chorus. “The two Vassar choirs are performing as a kind of special performance as a way of a reciprocal exchange,” said Vice President of Outreach at Haiti Project Inc. Sahara Pradhan ’15.

The choirs are excited to use their talents to help raise money for a good cause, and the added event gives them more opportunities to perform their repertoire. According to an emailed statement from Pilar Jefferson ’15, “Since its early on in the semester we’ll be singing pieces that we’re currently working on for our full concert in November, as well as Os Justi by Breckner, in combination with VCC, which is the song we sung at convocation.”

Event organizers also believe that the joint concert will be beneficial in more ways than one. VHP Medical Initiative Director Sarah Oliver ’15 explained in an emailed statement, “This choir is a unique opportunity to see a group of boys unite together for a cause they feel passionate about, rebuilding their school. This event is about bringing together all kinds of people and demonstrating that a love of music and quest for knowledge bridges any gaps in identity.”

Les Petits Chanteurs accepts students based on auditions and is comprised of young men as well as boys as young as seven. It was founded in 1960 and accepts singers of any economic standing. The group has completed several tours of the United States since their initial visit in 1984 and the music program at the Holy Trinity Music School has gained international notice after a performance at Tanglewood with L’Orchestre Philharmonique Sainte-Trinité.

The choir is touring the Northeast Coast this autumn to raise funds for the reconstruction of the Holy Trinity Music School, which was destroyed in an earthquake in January 2010.

Pradhan expressed her enthusiasm for the choir’s arrival. She said, “I’m really excited to see the boys and meet the choir because then suddenly everything [the Vassar Haiti Project has] been working for will become much more real. That’s what I’m most looking forward to—there’s going to be a great energy.”

She continued, “I think it’s a great learning experience on so many different levels. Part of it is helping the village of Chermaitre, which we work very closely with, and part of it is supporting artists. We buy art and we sell that artwork to make a profit which goes back to the village of Chermaitre, so it’s a cyclical process. The other part is teaching students the meaning of global citizenship. It’s meaningful in many ways.”

VHP organized a concert for Les Petits Chanteurs in the Chapel in 2010, which the group considers a great success. Despite the excitement the 2010 concert engendered in the student body, VHP recognizes that time has dulled people’s need to act. “2010 was the earthquake,” said Pradhan. “A lot of promises were made, and then our lives moved on. But the struggle is still very real for the people there who are rebuilding their entire lives. So I think [the concert is] also a moment where we can reflect, come to our bearings, and recognize that the struggle is still real and very much going on.”

Fundraising and Development Co-President Cindy Fung ’14 agreed, writing in an emailed statement, “I see the concert as a continuation and affirmation of our efforts—it is the result of our successful partnership in 2010. We are excited to have the opportunity to connect two places and two communities in this one event.”

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