Cara Pollard’s 30-year career has been a balancing act between sitting in academia and following her restless spirit all over the world. With her trumpet in hand, the TCU professor has been to Europe, South America, and, perhaps most significantly, Haiti.
A visit to the tiny island nation last summer birthed her new project. Not including Pollard, the members of her Imbroglio Sextet — clarinetist Salvador Contreras, composer/conductor Sydney Guillaume, cellist Javier Navascues, and violinists Lucia Nuin, David Otto, and Katie von Braun — hail from Spain, Michigan, and California. To help raise awareness of Haitians’ poor post-earthquake living conditions and raise funds for instruments and supplies for dozens of Haitian students, the sextet is about to embark on a small tour through Texas and Louisiana. The first stop is The Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge on Friday.
Helping the children financially was a logical next step for Pollard and company, she said. After all, they were already volunteering to teach them.
The ensemble took shape last year after another trumpet professor, Tarleton State University’s Jodie Pocious, who was not feeling well, asked Pollard to fill in for her at a Haitian camp. Pollard, of course, welcomed the opportunity to teach at Ecole de Musique de Saint Trinity, an annual event that gives Haitian children access to instruments and music lessons over the course of several weeks. But Pollard had her fears. She’d heard from close friends that the third-world country was riddled with crime and disease.
“It was a culture shock for sure,” she said, recalling the bare-bones facilities and the instruments held together with little more than duct tape. “But the people were extremely welcoming and so nice and vibrant. They love music. They love art.”
Unable to speak Haitian Creole or Spanish — several visiting professors were from Pamplona — Pollard was content to join the musical conversations. There were lots of rehearsals and late-night jam sessions.
Navascues was volunteering for his second year when he met Pollard. The two hit it off, even though the Spaniard’s English was shaky at best.
“We had not met much because the strings and winds worked separately,” he recalled. “But a few days later we performed a Vivaldi aria for soprano and trumpet.”
The faculty performances went so well that violinist Alvaro Santiago (who’s not part of the upcoming tour) asked Pollard if she’d like to visit Spain and perform at the Escuela de música Joaquín Maya de la Universidad de Navarra. The discussion drew input from some of the other teachers. Guillaume suggested they form a group, to bring attention to the Haitian camp. Later that fall, the ensemble went on its first tour, performing four concerts in Spain and one in Manchester, England. Pollard said all of the shows were well-attended.
Pollard raised the idea of an American tour for the same beneficiary. The group agreed, and Pollard began making plans.
Friday’s concert will blend traditional classical music, works by Haitian composers, and original works by Guillaume. The show also will feature two artists with deep local roots. Fort Worth native Brandon Brown’s latest composition, Four Movements for Film Projector, will be performed in time with a screening of an original film by Fort Worth filmmaker Rush Olson assembled from silent movie clips. Pollard commissioned the work last year, and she and her fellow musicians performed it during their European tour. Brown will be hearing his work live for the first time Friday.
The Imbroglio has ambitious plans for next year, including a concert at Carnegie Hall, recording sessions in Spain, and clinics and performances at the Eastman School of Music.
The musicians know they can’t “fix” Haiti, but they believe that if they can help one child, they’ve fulfilled their calling as musicians.
The concerts, Navascues said, are about social solidarity, not charity.
“These kids have nothing,” Pollard added. “Things that music students take for granted, like [woodwind] reeds and valve oil, are hard for them to get. They have all this going against them, and they just want the opportunity to learn their instruments.”
8pm Fri at The Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge, 1311 Lipscomb St, FW. $10-15. 817-926-0968.[/box_info]