Music and art talents coalesce to impact homelessness

Septembre Russell

The Portland Cello Project will harmonize with a combination of cellists, vocalists and artists to perform a
benefit concert at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Ice Auditorium to support Linfield’s Alternative Spring Break projects.
ASB is an annual, student fundraiser-based program originating in 2005. Participants volunteer while attempting to solve issues, social problems and/or environmental concerns in association with a community organization, Community Service Coordinator Jessica Wade said. She said this year students will travel to New Orleans to work with the St.
Bernard Project on rebuilding one of the areas hit heaviest in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, St. Bernard Parrish, and Guatemala to work with Habitat for Humanity.
“This year the focus was homelessness because of our participation in the 10-year plan to end homelessness in Yamhill County,” Wade said. “We’re sending another team to Portland to focus on homelessness locally, and we’re working with various homeless service providers up in Portland, including the Goose Hollow Family Shelter.”
The concert will feature an independent cello orchestra, the Portland Cello Project, along with Linfield cellists, accompanied by vocals from Weinland front man Adam Shearer and Portland solo artist Laura Gibson, class of ’01. Seniors Zach Mitlas and Laura Johnson and Luke Zimmerman, adjunct professor of art and visual culture, will create event-inspired performance art during the concert for a silent auction to take place that evening. All proceeds will directly serve the ASB program.
“The program does a great job encouraging students to use the skills they have or take their ideas and just run with them,” senior Renata Tirta, student organizer for the concert and student co-leader for the Portland ASB trip, said.
Tirta said it was logical to invite the Portland Cello Project because the ASB program also aims to include the McMinnville community in the event. Because the group plays classical music, as well as popular covers,
students and community members can enjoy the music together, she said.
“I think it’s a really great way to do something for the community,” Mitlas said. “I think homelessness is going to be well-addressed in Portland; hopefully, it will spur some more discussion over how to help people get back on their feet.”
Mitlas said he and Tirta spoke a month ago about the concept of the benefit concert and including
artists.
“She wanted to see if I might be able to help out and gather volunteers and participants for the benefit, and it has worked out surprisingly well,” Mitlas said.
Creating performance art pieces in an open space where art can be viewed is different and adds a community-based feel, Mitlas said. Opening that process up is part of the performance because the progression is part of the piece and the audience witnesses how the work unfolds as well as the techniques the artists draw upon. Mitlas said the concert will be his first time creating such art.
“If it pushes me to do it, that’s great, but ultimately, it’s so they can raise money so they can go do their thing,” Mitlas said.
Wade said the goal is to raise funds so that students will not take any financial responsibility to participate in meaningful service, community building among students and within cities served. In addition to ASB’s community service, one-fifth of the money raised provides a monetary donation to the organizations they participate with.
“It has been really nice for me to make connections between the different activities I do in school, put them together and have the support of the student artists from the art department,” Tirta said. “[The concert] is a good way for friends, peers and classmates to help students engage in service for Spring Break and have a fun, entertaining evening in return,” she said.
Admission to the concert costs $10 for students and $15 for the general public.
To access information concerning volunteer opportunities at Linfield, visit the Career and Community Services Web site. Preview songs by Portland Cello Project at www.portlandcelloproject.com.

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