Magazine article Strings

Quake Survivor Vows to Rebuild Music School for Haitian Children

Magazine article Strings

Quake Survivor Vows to Rebuild Music School for Haitian Children

Article excerpt

From beneath a collapsed building, violinist Romei Joseph pledged to rebuild classrooms at his Port-au-Prince schoolhouse

TRAPPED FOR 18 HOURS under the rubble of his music school that had collapsed in the deadly Haitian earthquake, blind violinist Romei Joseph knew he had a mission to fulfill: he would return to Port-au-Prince to teach the city's impoverished children.

Speaking from a hospital bed at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami ten days after being evacuated aboard a US military plane, the 50-year-old Joseph was "in high spirits and a high pain level."

He had just undergone three surgeries to repair injuries to his right foot, which had been crushed by a concrete wall, and three broken fingers on one hand.

"It could be worse," he said, noting that his pregnant wife Myslie, 26, and their unborn child, had been among the more than 150,000 victims of the disaster.

Joseph drew international media attention after the January 12 temblorwhen CBS News, NPR, and theMiami Herald reported his compelling story. "Somewhere in the dust and blood of his own grave . . . Joseph began to play the strains of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto," the Herald recounted. "Even with his left leg pinned in the rubble of his collapsed music school, he moved onto Brahms and then Mozart."

Indeed, after hearing rescuers burrowing through three stories of broken concrete that lay above, Joseph did pass the time alternating between prayer and meditation and playing violin concertos over in his mind. "It's hard to understand, but it helped me get out of the bad environment I was in for that amount of time," he said. "It helped the time go fast. But believe me, after a certain point, I was no longer thinking about violin concertos - I was focused on helping the men get me out, so the wall wouldn't collapse on top of me."

Raised in poverty in Port-au-Prince by nuns, Joseph received scholarships and a Fulbright grant, graduating from the University of Cincinnati and earning a masters degree in violin performance from the Juilliard School. …

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