Music To Help Heal Haiti's Wounds

Haiti quake survivor Romel Joseph, a violinist, lay trapped under the rubble of the demolished children's music school he founded for 18 hours before being rescued. Host Guy Raz talks with Joseph and Eduardo Marturet of the Miami Symphony Orchestra, which is performing a charity concert to help rebuild the Port-au-Prince school.

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(Soundbite of music)

GUY RAZ, host:

This is music from Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" ballet. And tomorrow night in Miami, the city's symphony orchestra will perform this piece at a charity concert to benefit a children's music school in Haiti that was destroyed by last month's earthquake.

The founder of the New Victorian School in Port-au-Prince is Romel Joseph, a Juilliard-trained violinist. He was inside the school on January 12th when the quake hit. For 18 hours, Joseph was trapped under the rubble. His left hand, the one he uses to hold the violin neck, was crushed. His young, pregnant wife was in the building, too, and she did not survive.

A month ago, we spoke with Romel Joseph as he was recovering from initial surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. He is still there, and on the line with me.

Romel Joseph, welcome back to the program.

Mr. ROMEL JOSEPH (Violinist; Founder, New Victorian School): Well, thank you for inviting me, and it's always a pleasure.

RAZ: Also with us is Eduardo Marturet. He is the maestro of the Miami Symphony Orchestra. He's at WLRN in Miami.

Maestro, welcome to you.

Mr. EDUARDO MARTURET (Maestro, Miami Symphony Orchestra): Thank you. It's a pleasure to be there with you guys.

RAZ: First to you, Romel Joseph. When we last spoke, you had just undergone surgery. It's just a little more than a week after the earthquake. I understand you've had something like 13 more procedures since. How are you feeling?

Mr. JOSEPH: I'm feeling great. And the purpose of all these surgeries is to clean those wounds and wait for them to heal instead of amputating, which would be faster. But then I wouldn't be able to work.

RAZ: And what is the condition of your hand, the hand that you use to hold the violin neck.

Mr. JOSEPH: Yes. They're supposed to remove the cast tomorrow actually. So, I should find out soon what the suggestion will be.

RAZ: Whether you'll be able to play the violin again?

Mr. JOSEPH: If the fingers are healed, then I'll probably go through a therapy. And I've been using the piano that Stevie Wonder gave me just to exercise.

RAZ: Stevie Wonder gave you his keyboards. Yeah.

Mr. JOSEPH: His personal keyboard, which was really generous. I don't have to turn my head around on a violin. A keyboard is easier. And I'm hoping that I'll be able to play the violin again, which I love and I really would like to continue playing.

RAZ: Maestro Marturet, the Miami Symphony Orchestra, your symphony orchestra, will perform a benefit concert for Romel Joseph's school in Haiti that was destroyed. It'll happen tomorrow night. I understand that you found out about Romel Joseph through his daughter Victoria, who's actually a member of the Miami Symphony Orchestra. What does she play there?

Mr. MARTURET: Yes. Victoria is a member of our viola section for over a year now. And I learned about this because she came up to me and said, maestro, I might not be able to be at rehearsal tomorrow night because I might be flying to Haiti to look for my father, because we don't know if he's alive or not.

The next thing we hear is that her father is in Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. And the whole thing developed. You know, the orchestra was very touched - every member of our orchestra was very touched with her story. And I thought it would be more interesting, more special, more honest really to concentrate on this cause because it was very close to us, it is very close to us.

RAZ: Romel Joseph, when we spoke to you about a month ago, you were optimistic, very optimistic, about rebuilding a school and returning to Haiti. Do you have any idea when you can go back and start doing that?

Mr. JOSEPH: Well, it all depends on how fast I healed and how fast I could walk. We have estimated maybe in about three to four weeks. However, the only thing I don't know is how soon I'm able to walk and I'm functional. That I will go back to Haiti and I will start the reconstruction of the Victorian school.

RAZ: That's Romel Joseph. He's the founder of the New Victorian School. It's a music school that was destroyed in last month's earthquake in Haiti. We also spoke with Eduardo Marturet. He is the maestro of the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

Tomorrow night, that orchestra will hold a benefit concert on behalf of the New Victorian School. It begins at 8 p.m. at the Lincoln Theater in Miami Beach.

Gentlemen, thank you both.

Mr. JOSEPH: Thank you so very much for the invitation.

Mr. MARTURET: Thank you. Pleasure.

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