“The history of classical music in Haiti is symbiotic with a convent in Boston,” writes Matthew Guerrieri in Wednesday’s (1/13) Faster Times (New York City). “In 1951, Sister Anne Marie Bickerstaff [of the Society of St. Margaret], a native of Virginia, traveled to Port-au-Prince to teach at a missionary school, and found no institution for students to develop their musical talent, so she started one from scratch, based at Holy Trinity, the Episcopal cathedral and school in the city—the Ecole Ste. Trinité became Haiti’s leading conservatory, the Orchestre Philharmonique Sainte Trinité the country’s de facto national symphony, and, upon its construction in 1979, the school’s Salle Ste. Cecile the city’s main concert hall. … Information is still sketchy, but in addition to the widely reported collapse of Port-au-Prince’s Roman Catholic Cathédrale de Notre-Dame, Holy Trinity and its school have apparently also been leveled by yesterday’s earthquake. … The Society of St. Margaret in encouraging donations, either through the Society itself, Episcopal Relief and Development, or Doctors Without Borders. … Obviously, meeting the most basic survival needs of Hatians is paramount in the immediate aftermath of the quake, but Bickerstaff herself was adamant that music and education was integral to charity.”

There are several ways to support Haitian relief efforts. Here are three: you may make donations through Partners In Health or Doctors Without Borders, or use your cell phone to text “Yele” to 501501 to automatically donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund.

Posted January 14, 2010