An Evening of Fine Arts: Fine Entertainment

March 12, 2010

The Black Men’s Forum’s Haiti benefit concert, Evening of Fine Arts, was greeted by a small but enthusiastic audience. The concert, which took place on Saturday, February 26th at 7:00pm in Lowell Lecture Hall, raised money for the CARE organization’s work in Haiti, and featured classical music, visual art, and dance.

As the audience drifted in, recordings of classic jazz standards like “Fever” and “Someone to Watch Over Me” set a light but classy mood.  The stage was lined with four striking pieces of artwork created by Monique Callahan ‘12. The paintings, close-ups both physically and emotionally of human hope and struggle, were pertinent to the evening’s cause. One depicted an anguished face, and another presented a woman in a vibrant red blouse reaching out an empowered hand.

The night began when the show’s charismatic host, Justin W. White ’10, made a comical entrance. White stood rigidly in front of a grand piano at the center of the stage.  His head jerked right and left, and then he robotically took a seat.  After tinkering at the keys, White stood back up and formally introduced the evening to an amused audience.  Despite White’s delightful introduction, classical piano music was not the strength of the show; the musicians showed some hesitation and were rhythmically inconsistent. In two pieces, piano music overwhelmed the other instruments. Both a saxophonist and a violinist performed heartfelt renditions of classic pieces, but their piano accompanists seemed to overshadow their individual acts. This was especially true for the saxophonist, whose recorded accompaniment started off too loud.

There were, however, many highlights and a healthy amount of variety in Evening of Fine Arts, including a Shakespearian sonnet recited by Eskor Johnson ’11 and a light piece played by Mureji Fatunde ’12 on the marimba, a traditional African xylophone. The a cappella group Key Change gave a soothing rendition of the jazz standard “At Last,” with a well-rehearsed, rich sound. Unlike the guttural, stirring rendition of the song by Etta James, the “Key Change” soloist sang with a beautiful, smooth control until the last note. Coral Martin ‘10 was the only dancer in the show, performing a short ballet exhibit. Martin contrasted sharp and flowing movement, and performed to an interesting score composed of both music and words.

Later, in a slightly gimmicky but much appreciated number, Clayton Brooks ‘10 sported a spiffy suit and sang two classic Frank Sinatra songs, “Fly Me to the Moon,” and “Night and Day.” The small crowd was perfect for Brooks’ full-out acting, which he topped off by serenading a female audience member and tossing his hat to surprised admirers. The final number, perhaps the strongest of the night, showcased the jazzy voice of Barthalomew Sillah ’12 in “Summertime” by George Gershwin. His accompanist, Keith Doelling ’11, who had performed both vocals and self-accompaniment earlier in the program, once again demonstrated his skillful piano playing by complimenting Sillah’s sultry tone.

After just over an hour, White finished off the evening, putting aside his jokes and calling upon the audience to donate. His statement, “take your pizza money, your drink money, and give it to people who need it,” resonated in the minds of attendees, reminding us of how fortunate we are and how important it is to give to others in times of need.  Evening of Fine Arts was for a good good cause and featured many enjoyable performances.  It deserved a larger audience.

- The Harvard Art Review Dance Board and Music Board


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