World-renowned performers to present Musicians United for Haiti

VERO BEACH — Music lovers will be treated to a unique concert opportunity on Wednesday, June 29 as world class, professional musicians join together to present “Musicians United for Haiti.” 

The concert begins at 7 p.m. at the Vero Beach High School Performing Arts Center, which is donating the use of the facility for the performance.  Tickets for this exceptional concert are $30, with proceeds to benefit two local non-profit organizations, Haiti Partners and Haiti Clinic. These extraordinary musicians will be in Vero Beach for a week as faculty members of the Mike Block String Camp, which takes place from June 27 to July 2.

“All of the musicians are donating their time to perform that night,” said Kathryn Johnston, Executive Director of the camp.  “It’s an unbelievable coup because these are world-famous performers, all of whom are highly-regarded in the music world.  When I asked if they would be willing to perform at a benefit concert to support Haiti relief efforts, they immediately responded with an enthusiastic, ‘Yes, absolutely!'”

Mike Block, hailed by Yo-Yo Ma as the “ideal musician of the 21st Century,” is a Julliard trained multi-genre cellist and frequent performer with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble.  Block has toured with numerous nationally known string groups and is the Artistic Director and host of GALA: Global Art – Local Audience, a concert series at the Brooklyn Lyceum featuring a diverse array of musicians and artists in unique collaborations. He is also the lead teaching artist for Silk Road Connect, a partnership that joins musicians from around the world in presentations to sixth-grade classes in the NYC public schools.

Vero Beach resident Kathryn Johnston, an attorney and mediator with the Dispute Resolution Center of the Treasure Coast, first met Block at a music camp in Kansas City attended by her daughter Bridget, Principal Cellist with the Vero Beach High School Symphony Orchestra and 2011 graduate.  Since that initial meeting, Block has proved to be a very popular clinician and performer at local public schools in Indian River County.

“Vero Beach has never seen the likes of this crowd,” said Johnston referencing the faculty musicians involved in the camp and the concert. “Each one has an international following.”

Showcasing world-renowned musicians from a variety of folk, jazz, and classical styles, “Musicians United for Haiti” will feature solos and collaborations between the performers, including both instrumental music and songs.

Performers include Grammy-nominated Darol Anger, a brilliant violinist, fiddler, composer, producer and educator, is at home in a number of musical genres, some of which he helped to invent.  His music can be heard on NPR’s “Car Talk” theme, and he is a featured soloist on dozens of recordings and motion picture soundtracks. Anger has performed and taught all over the world, is a McDowell and U Cross Fellow, and is an Associate Professor at the prestigious Berklee College of music.

Dazzling bluegrass fiddler Brittany Haas plays fiddle in the internationally-acclaimed band Crooked Still, one of the most popular and innovative Alternative-Bluegrass bands in the country.  Her repertoire focuses on Appalachian mountain music played on the five-string fiddle. She studied with Darol Anger for several years and is a 2009 graduate of Princeton University, where she was also member of the marching band.

The music of exciting fiddler Hanneke Cassel, has been described by the Boston Globe as “exuberant and rhythmic, somehow both wild and innocent, delivered with captivating melodic clarity and an irresistible playfulness.”   At a young age, Cassel won the coveted title of U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion.  In addition, she holds a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Berklee College of Music, and has performed and taught all over the world.

Vibrant Celtic cellist Natalie Haas, also a Julliard graduate, is a seasoned performer, recording artist, and teacher who regularly plays with master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser throughout Europe and North America.Their first duo release, Fire & Grace, was awarded the Best Album of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards 2004.  Hass has appeared on over 50 albums, and teaches periodically at fiddle camps and workshops around the globe.

Victor Lin is an acclaimed jazz pianist and violinist with a primary focus on education.  Lin has an undergraduate degree in music from the University of Washington, a Master’s degree in jazz studies from Rutgers University, and is currently finishing his doctorate in music education at Columbia University Teachers College, where he teaches jazz piano and jazz ensembles.  He has been on the faculty of the prestigious Stanford Jazz Workshop for the past eleven years, taught at the Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camp for three years, and also directs the jazz program at The Calhoun School in Manhattan.

Musical madman Joe Craven is a creativity educator, visual artist, actor/storyteller, festival emcee and recipient of the 2009 Folk Alliance Far-West Performer of the Year.  Craven has created music and sound effects for commercials, soundtracks and computer games playing on anything that has strings attached; violin, mandolin, tin can, bedpan, cookie tin, tenor guitar/banjo, mouth bow, canjoe, cuatro, berimbau, balalaika, boot ‘n lace and double-necked “whatever.” “Everything Joe touches turns to music,” says mandolinist David Grisman.

After 20 years performing classical violin and viola, Lauren Rioux crossed over to vernacular string styles, quickly becoming a rising star as an Appalachian fiddler, and currently performing with Scott Nygaard& Crow Molly, Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings, and the String Nation Orkestra. Rioux plays an active role in strings education throughout Maine where she maintains a rambunctious private studio of over 30 violinists, violists, and fiddlers ranging from age five to 65.

This is the first time Haiti Partners, which works through education to empower Haitians to develop leaders and teach teachers, and Haiti Clinic, which runs a free primary care clinic in Cité Soleil, have combined for a fundraising event.

“I think it’s a natural partnership; the organizations complement each other,” said Johnston.

Tickets are available via PayPal at

Tickets are also available at The Dispute Resolution Center, 1962 26th Avenue (Rte. 60 & 26th Ave.), (772) 567-5641 or the office of Dr. Neil Heskel, 865 37th Place, (772) 567-4445.

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