April 16, 2007

C.U. Stages Concert In Support of Darfur

Print More

In an effort to raise both money for and awareness of the ongoing conflict in Darfur, the Big Red Relief organization held its third annual benefit concert last Friday in Bailey Hall. Combining musical and visual performances, Big Red Relief aspired to make a difference.
About 450 Cornell students and faculty, as well as members of the Ithaca College community, flocked to Bailey Hall to support the cause and enjoy the provided entertainment. The organization managed to raise $7,000, all of which will be donated to the World Food Program in order to support the Darfur cause.
The Cornell University Program Board worked in association with Big Red Relief to bring former United States Sen. George McGovern to campus last Wednesday evening to preface the event. As the founder of the World Food Program, McGovern lectured about an end to world hunger. His speech was taped and shown to the audience to open the event.
In addition to McGovern’s words, Big Red Relief aimed to capture its audience’s attention from the start with a slideshow displaying the devastation occurring in the Darfur region of western Sudan. Pictures of starving children slowly cycled through as the tone was set with a recorded version of Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah.
Afterwards, the night got off to a bang, as the Cornell Percussion Ensemble provided the first live act. The emcees, Cornell hockey players Byron Bitz ’07, and Topher Scott ’08, did their part to entertain the audience as they introduced the 13 other acts. Performances ranged from a cappella groups such as The Hangovers and Cayuga’s Waiters, dance routines from groups such as the Teszia Belly Dance Troupe and Impact Dance Troupe as well as visual performances by groups such as the Cornell Gymnastics Team and Cornell Bhangra. Various musical ensembles and bands also shared their abilities for the cause.
The audience remained involved throughout the event, clapping to keep the beat on several occasions.
“I wish every seat was filled,” said attendee Lexi Pritchett ’09. “I think it’s great that Cornell has so much talent and that it is so diverse.”
According to Big Red Relief President Esra Tara ’07, the benefit allowed a wide variety of entertainment groups to perform together in a single venue, something that one can only find during the annual Orientation Week for new students.
Not only was the organization able to allow a number of groups to showcase their talents on stage, but it also involved many more organizations behind-the-scenes. This year more than 25 groups co-sponsored the event.
Founded in 2005, Big Red Relief decided to dedicate its first benefit to those devastated by the Tsunami in Southern Asia that year.
“When we started with the Tsunami relief concert, our aim was not to be a group that put on several little shows, but to be an organization that had one huge event per year, at one time, during one night,” Tara said.
The following year, Big Red Relief beat its previous attendance record, and donated the proceeds of the benefit to support Children of War.
In fact, due to the success in prior years, Tara explained that Big Red Relief has accepted the responsibility of issuing advice to other organizations who wish to compile an event of this extent.
Tara stressed the importance of sharing the experience of the benefit.
“What we really don’t want is to claim this event. We invite all groups who want to take part,” she said.
After speaking with a number of performers, the general consensus was that of great anticipation.
“It’s our first time performing for an actual cause — it’s very exciting” said Bahaa Naamani ’08, member of the Cornell Middle Eastern Music Ensemble. “We have a cultural image to share, and [the benefit] will give us a big opportunity to expose our music to Cornell and the Ithaca community.”