Tonight's MISO Concert Benefits School in Haiti

Romel Joseph, who started the New Victorian School in Port-au-Prince, is MISO violist Victoria Joseph's father.

A late Valentine's concert lured hundreds to the Gusman Concert Hall at the University of Miami Friday night, where the Miami Symphony Orchestra hosted the first of two heart-filled concerts to benefit the people of Haiti through the work of one remarkable survivor.

"For two days I didn't hear anything from my father," said MISO violist Victoria Joseph. Her dad, Juilliard-trained violinist Romel Joseph, was inside the school he started for underpriveleged children in Port-au-Prince when the devastating earthquake hit last month. The legally blind musician was trapped for 18 hours under the rubble, with his pregnant wife dead two floors below.

His saving grace, he says, was replaying concertos in his mind to help keep him sane and alive.

Joseph has been recuperating at Jackson Memorial for weeks now, having undergone 13 surgeries for two crushed les and two fractured playing fingers, but all he wants to do is go back and rebuild his New Victorian School and music conservatory. His daughter's MISO friends wanted badly to help.

"Our musicians wanted to give their services to help Haiti," said Eduardo Marturet the MISO Conductor. "I thought, if we were to do one, it had to be very special, so why don't we focus on the school?"

The orchestra put together "A Valentine's Nostalgia," featuring De Falla's El Amor Brujo, selections from Bizet's Carmen, and Prokofiev's  Romeo & Juliet Suite. The final performance is tonight at Lincoln Theatre, with proceeds benefiting Walenstein Musical Organization and its efforts to rebuild the New Victorian School.

"He's a survivor and a fighter, " said Victoria Joseph of her father, who already rebuilt the school once before after an electrical fire destroyed it in 2000.  "He inspires me to keep going no matter how hard things's like he said, it will take more than an earthquake for him to stop what he's doing in Haiti."

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