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The Family Tree - December/January 2006
Katrina Benefit Concert


NEWS RELEASE
Contact: Robert Currie
(908) 273-3509 

Katrina Benefit Concert Raises Funds for Rebuilding of Gulf Coast Region

Musicians Donate Talents to Show “No One Is Alone”

SUMMIT, N.J. – Joining together to offer a hand the way it knows best, the Clan Currie Society brought together musicians from its annual, award-winning Pipes of Christmas concerts to perform together with the Summit Music Festival for “No One is Alone – A Concert of Hope.”  The concert was held on October 7 at Central Presbyterian Church, which generously hosted the event.

The roster of performers included champion fiddler Paul Woodiel, soprano soloist Valerie Bernhardt, Celtic harpist Odarka Stockert, the Solid Brass ensemble and the Kearny Caledonian Pipe Band.

On an appropriately Scottish evening of mist and soft rain, the concert raised nearly $6,000, all of which went to hurricane relief aid in the Gulf Coast region devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in September. Inspired by an email conversation with clan member Arlene Torrens, of La Grange, Kentucky, who works for the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities, the Clan Currie Society quickly put together the concert with local partners and performers.

Robert Currie, president of the Clan Currie Society explained that Torrens had responded to the Society’s broadcast email message to its worldwide membership asking members to keep those in the Gulf Coast region in their thoughts and prayers and to respond “however best meets your individual ability.” Torrens, who flew in to New Jersey to attend the concert, responded letting him know that there were several Currie families in the 65 Presbyterian churches that were left unable to function after Katrina.

“I was incredibly proud of how everyone gathered together for those who are in such need,” said Torrens. “I was proud to be a Currie.”

An evening that began with soft melodic sounds of harp and fiddle concluded with a boisterous rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”  In between, the crowd was treated to a “musical jambalaya” including Scottish pipes and drums, sprightly jigs and reels, and comforting hymns and anthems, the later being led by Music Festival Artistic Director, Jason Tramm.

For Noel Werner, Minister of Music at Central Presbyterian Church, “The concert was a wonderful demonstration of what it means to be part of the Summit community and the larger New Jersey musical community.  It shows what we can accomplish when we come together for an important humanitarian effort.”

Summit Common Council President Frank Macioce attended the concert with his wife Helen.  "The evening produced a wonderful program of great music for a very worthy cause."

For Pipe Major Matt Nonnemacher of the Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Pipe Band of Redlands, CA, the concert was an opportunity to do something for family who were evacuated from the Gulf Coast. “Not only was it personal,” he said, “but it’s the honorable thing to do. People need help, and you want to do give them what you can.”

Though few concerts he participates compare to the Pipes of Christmas, Nonnemacher said “No One Is Alone” was special. “You’re always trying to do your best, but this is going to help my family and possibly to help the family of someone in the audience,” he said. “It doesn’t sound different, but it definitely feels different.”

###

Photo Captions:


Celtic Harpist Odarka Stockert of Millburn performs at “No One Is Alone,” the community fundraising concert to support hurricane relief efforts. (Photo by Warren Westura)


Members of the Kearny Caledonian Pipe Band provide a bit of Scottish pageantry to the evening.  (Photo by Warren Westura)


Solid Brass concluded the evening with a rousing rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”  (Photo by Warren Westura)

About The Clan Currie Society

The Clan Currie Society, an international, non-profit cultural and educational organization, is active in preserving and promoting highland heritage at Scottish Games, ethnic festivals, as well as community groups and classrooms.  The organization started as a family name society in Glasgow, Scotland in 1959 to further the knowledge and appreciation of the MacMhuirich bardic dynasty.  The MacMhuirichs (the Gaelic name for Currie) served for over 700 years as professional poets to the Lords of the Isles and later to the MacDonalds of Clanranald.

Today, the organization is a leading American-based foundation that focuses on celebrating the Scots-Gaelic origins of the Currie name as well as producing programs and events to honor Scotland’s rich culture and ancestry.  Amongst their many activities, the Society hosts the annual Tartan Day celebrations at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and produces the annual “Pipes of Christmas” concert.  The 2005 concert is scheduled for December 17, 2005.  For further information, visit www.clancurrie.com.

About The Summit Music Festival

The Summit Music Festival was formed in 2002 to provide a high quality summer musical experience for the many Summit area musicians who sing in other choirs and choral groups during the year.   Under the leadership of Artistic Director Jason Tramm the Festival has presented four annual concerts featuring masterworks by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Mendelssohn.

The 60 voice choir is chosen by competitive audition each season and performs with professional orchestras and soloists.   All four concerts played to capacity crowds in the Sanctuary of Central Presbyterian Church which co-sponsors the Festival.   Pre-concert lectures are held at the Summit Free Public Library.   Last December a Chamber Choir from the SMF was chosen to perform in the Clan Currie Society’s “Pipes of Christmas” concert.   The Summit Music Festival is run by a volunteer Board and supported through the generosity of its donors and friends.  For 2006, the Festival will present Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” For further information, visit www.summitmusicfestivalnj.com.


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