Butler School of Music hosts HurricAID Benefit

Zachary Guerrero

Students and faculty joined together Tuesday night for a Butler School of Music benefit concert for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

The four-hour concert held at Bates Recital Hall featured more than 30 songs, consisting of genres such as jazz, mariachi and classical music. It was free to the public, and donations were encouraged to help raise funds. Concert organizers Darlene Wiley, a professor of voice, and Hanan Alattar, an alumna, said they wanted to use the event to benefit a campus-wide fundraiser that was previously organized by the Student Emergency Fund, the Registrar’s Office and the Dean of Students to assist Harvey victims.

“We were all distressed because such a large percentage of our students come from the Houston area, and we knew that some were much worse off than others,” Wiley said. “We have students who have a foot of water in their home, and a lot of (them) were here for the start of school, but nonetheless, we were concerned.”

Last month, Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast less than a week before classes were scheduled to begin. More than half of all UT-Austin students are from areas affected by the storm, according to J.B. Bird, UT director of media relations.

The concert was streamed online, as multiple soloists and ensembles were performed by students playing alongside faculty.

Skyla Lowery, development associate in the College of Fine Arts, said the money will go directly to the students through financial aid, allowing them to spend the money depending on their situation.

“The Student Emergency Fund on campus helps students in any emergency that comes up in their lives, but specifically now, it’s Hurricane Harvey,” Lowery said. “They said they have about 1,500 requests a year for excused absences, and the week of Harvey they had over 1,000 requests just that week alone.”

Music performance graduate student Beibei Sheng said his song is about living a beautiful life, and he hopes the victims of Hurricane Harvey find peace in their daily lives.

“I want to send them a message that everything is going to be fine,” Sheng said. “I want to give them hope. We can help and support each other, so I think this music will send that message to the people.”

Donations for students effected by Hurricane Harvey are still being accepted online.