Haiti benefit makes music at the chapel

Faculty members and students came together on Monday night to show their ongoing support for the recovering nation of Haiti.

Showcased in one of Laurier’s least-explored buildings – the seminary – staff and students proved they care by sharing their talents and raising money to help rebuild the earthquake-ravaged country.

Donations were not only fuelled by generosity and simple goodwill, but by the promise from English professor Ed Jewinski that he would cut off his beloved ponytail if $500 was raised.

The performances, organized by English student Lacey Beer, shone the spotlight on a wide range of talented members of the Laurier community – from poetic professors and student songwriters to piano prodigies and highland dancers; the artistic spectrum was undoubtedly well-covered.

English and film studies professor Markus Poetzsch opened the night with a few self-penned poems about the Holocaust, Sudanese refugees and an insightful description of a meeting with a man in a palliative care unit.

He was followed by English professor and local activist Madelaine Hron, who was joined onstage by her colleagues Tanis MacDonald and Mariam Pirbhai.

Hron recited Haitian poetry in native Creole tongue while MacDonald and Pirbhai provided English translations.

Laurier alumnus Richard Garvey also presented work directly related to the nation in need with his original song “Sometimes it Takes an Earthquake to Shake You”, while most other performers chose to read and sing more generic, uplifting pieces, such as Laurier student Janice Lee’s lighthearted and cleverly-written original songs.

Fellow Golden Hawk Jack Drysdale proved that back-up bands aren’t always necessary as he wooed the crowd with a couple heart-felt solos.

On the other hand, Matthew Taylor, Steph Kujtan, Justin Shaw and Graham Shaw’s band blew the unsuspecting audience away with renditions of Radiohead’s “High and Dry” and The Beatles’ classic “Oh Darling!”.

The night’s real showstopper, however, was young prodigy Amadeusz Kazubowski-Houston on the piano.

As the barely-teenage musical virtuoso sat down and began to play, jaws were dropping left, right and centre.

He powered through Chopin’s “Ballade #3 in Ab Major”, leaving the crowd astounded by the combination of his young age and insane prowess on the ivories.

These performances were complimented by a range of readings and songs that truly demonstrated a genuine sense of compassion from the Laurier student body and faculty.

Donations were collected on a pay-what-you-can basis at the door with a bake sale at intermission to further contribute to the cause of helping Haiti.

So did Jewinski lose the infamous ponytail? With a grand total of $558 raised on Monday night, a draw was held to determine who would be the lucky haircutter.

Performer Janice Lee was selected as one of the people to chop it off and Jewinski stuck to his word – moments later he was posing with his locks in hand, smile on face.

Beer’s “Song and Verse for Haiti” not only raised funds but provided an evening of entertainment for the audience, and reassured everybody else that the Laurier community’s social conscience is still able to shine through the midterms, papers and hangovers that we face on a regular basis.