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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    7th grader puts on benefit concert

    Deep golden rays coast through the windows of Rincon Market as the sun sets. It’s Valentine’s Day, and I am lucky enough to sit across from a remarkable young man for once. Twelve-year-old Aodhan Lyons, pronounced Ay-den, smiles at me while I set down the recorder, a black fedora pushing down his dark, loosely curled locks.

    “”It’s really sad,”” said Aodhan, measuring his words carefully, hesitantly. “”It was a couple days after … I saw the report on TV, and I said, ‘Hey, I can do something to support this.'””

    Aodhan watched the news reports on the earthquake that had devastated Haiti. He soaked in the dilapidated homes, the debris crowding the streets and the thousands of Haitians struggling under their overwhelming loss. Each camera shot captured the earthquake’s wrath — how it enveloped Haiti in a film of chalky dust and despair. Aodhan’s uncle, who is Haitian, lost five of his family members.

    With Aodhan’s bar mitzvah approaching, he started considering different projects, but after the report there was only one thing he knew he needed to do. He needed to help, and he wanted to hold a concert to raise funds for the victims of this natural disaster.

    With little time to spare and already balancing a full schedule, Aodhan’s Friday spilled into Saturday with back-to-back performances of a school play. Between that and promoting the concert at churches and synagogues on Sunday, he still found time to meet for this article. The “”From Tucson to Haiti”” benefit concert is scheduled to take place Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. Though much has been done, Aodhan hopes to gather more support and raise more awareness before the concert.

    It is not every day you meet a seventh grader who has excellent time management skills, takes philosophy as an elective and organizes interfaith world music benefit concerts for countries in need. But what prompted his desire for a concert?

    “”Aodhan sings a lot. He used to be part of the Tucson Jewish Youth Choir, so originally, he was thinking that maybe he could get choirs from churches and synagogues to have a concert,”” said his mother Hilary. “”I told him I knew someone at the Fox Theatre. He could talk to him about how to prepare. We ended up having a meeting with a bunch of people who were social action chairs from different synagogues and the Interfaith Community Services and Craig Sumberg from Fox Theatre.””

    Aodhan glanced at his mother’s face and then studied his hands before he spoke.

    “”I hadn’t ever put on something like this before, so I thought it would be a lot easier than it turned out to be. Then as it progressed, I figured out it was going to take a lot more work.”” Aodhan said.

    With less than a month to pull the concert together, those at the meeting, recognized as seasoned event planners, were less optimistic about what Aodhan was set on accomplishing.

    Organizing takes anywhere from a few months to half a year depending on the event and who’s playing, Sumberg said.

    “”It was a lot of work in a short amount of time. Choirs have 30 to 60 members — that’s a lot of people to get organized. So, that’s when he kind of got steered in the direction of getting some bands to perform (instead).”” Hilary said.

    Aodhan set to work searching for bands online and sending e-mails asking for their support.

    “”We had a few disappointments with bands that really wanted to perform but had other obligations.”” Hilary said. Most bands schedule performances months in advance. She realized requesting a band’s commitment to play at an event only a few weeks away was a stretch.

    But he did it. With a line up including Spirit Familia, The Triple Double Band and Odaiko Sonora Drummers — bands ranging from reggae to blues to Latin and afrobeats — the benefit concert is scheduled and ready to go.

    The American Red Cross, Interfaith Community Services, Multi-faith Alliance, various churches and synagogues in the Tucson area and Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation are supporting the event. Donations will be collected by The American Red Cross for Haitian relief.

    And what was Aodhan’s uncle think of all this?

    “”When I talked to him on the phone he said several times he was very proud of me, and that’s a great thing to hear,”” Aodhan said.

    When asked what his favorite part of organizing the event was, Aodhan didn’t mention talking with the bands, the publicity or the concert. He tilted his head and shrugged. The answer was simple.

    “”It’s just the feeling of giving.”” Aodhan said.


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