Zeitoun Day: Panelists presented New Orleans-related music

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”Alec Mapes-Frances” align=”alignleft” width=”300″]Zeitoun Arts[/media-credit]

The Jazz Ensemble plays as students and faculty members enter the Arts and Music Panel.

by Meredith Abrams

What is the connection between the music and culture of New Orleans and Dave Eggers’s Zeitoun, asked counselor Matthew Ford to open the Arts and Music Panel in the little theatre.

“How did Katrina affect the New Orleans arts community, and what role did it play in the city’s recovery?” Ford questioned

Ford also addressed any students who had not read the book. “Don’t worry about making connections to the book,” he said. “Just be in the moment and enjoy the Panel.”

“We just don’t want anyone who hasn’t read the novel to feel disconnected,” he added.

The first panelist to present was Italian teacher David Master. He sang “This City,” a song by Steve Earl, and played the guitar. Sophomore Alex Fabry accompanied him on the trumpet.

Earl was an actor on the television show Treme, which is about post-Katrina New Orleans. On the show, Earl played a musician.

“The song is about the resilience of the city, and the resilience of each single person,” Master said.

A native of New Orleans, musician Charles Burchell was the next panelist to perform. Burchell is a senior at the New England Conservatory.

He grew up in New Orleans and was 15 when Hurricane Katrina hit. He said he remembers how he felt lucky that his house was on relatively high ground.

“I lost very little compared to some other people,” Burchell said. “The water came up just to my doorstep and warped the wood of my front door, but not any farther.”

He said that music is an integral part of New Orleans. “I remember coming back a few months after the storm, and it was weird to see the streetlights off.

“But there was this little jazz club open with maybe 10 people in the audience, and the music was healing them in a way,” Burchell said.

“It was an important part of the city coming back together after the storm. The music helps people deal with their experiences.”

Burchell played a traditional second-line rhythm on the drum set. It is a style often played at funerals, he said.

The rhythm begins slowly but becomes more upbeat to celebrate the life of the individual who has passed away. “It’s a party,” Burchell said.

Performing after Burchell was music teacher Richard Labedz, who conducted the jazz ensemble in “Just a Closer Walk,” a jazz tune.

“New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz because it was a melting pot of all these different influences,” Labedz said.

The panel then concluded the presentation by answering questions from the audience.