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Orchestras step up for classical musicians impacted by 2016 flood

Baton Rouge Orchestra musician rescues his bass after the flood. (Photo: Paul Mauffray)

Baton Rouge Orchestra musician rescues his bass after the flood. (Photo: Paul Mauffray)

After last month's torrential rains and subsequent flooding, Paul Mauffray got a phone call from a friend in the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra. He was standing knee-deep in water when he called, Mauffray recalls, and he was saving the one thing he valued most from his inundated home: his bass.

Other musicians also saw loss from the disaster, which damaged more than 146,000 homes in the Baton Rouge region. One flutist not only had water in her home, but then discovered her flute had been submerged when the private Runnels School suffered a catastrophic level of flooding. An orchestra violinist and recent graduate of the LSU School of Music returned from an international gig to discover a flooded car. Other musicians lost homes, cars and instruments.

Mauffray, a conductor and Louisiana native, knows how they feel. "We in New Orleans can relate first-hand to these experiences, and many of us have faced similar circumstances related to Hurricane Katrina."

Mauffray has helped organize a benefit concert for Baton Rouge flood victims, featuring a performance of the Mozart Requiem by orchestra musicians combined from both the Louisiana Philharmonic and Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestras. Other headliners at the Sunday evening concert at Trinity Episcopal Church will include a chorus of singers from the New Orleans and Baton Rouge regions, vocal soloists Amy Pfrimmer, Daveda Karanas, Tyler Smith, Terrance Brown, and conductor Mauffray.

The Requiem was Mozart's final work, and one he was attempting to complete at the time of his early death. The performance starts at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1329 Jackson Ave. General admission is by donation.

Sunday's concert will be preceded by another benefit for area musicians on Thursday, Sept. 8. The Arts Care: A Benefit for Louisiana Flood Victims, is being presented by the New Orleans Opera Association and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.

"When facing substantial physical need, it is easy to overlook the impact of arts and artists when forced to consider available resources and to establish priorities for support,"said Robert Lyall, General and Artistic Director of the New Orleans Opera. "But it has been shown time and time again how vital a role the arts can play in helping to rejuvenate and restore a community in times of great need.”

Thursday's concert will feature pieces ranging from Broadway to opera to orchestral masterworks. Highlights include "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables, "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess, the Toreador Song from Carmen, "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel, "Nessun dorma" from Turandot and "Make our Garden Grow" from Candide.

The Arts Care Concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. Tickets range from $19 to $109 and are available at the New Orleans Opera’s website.

Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]