When Greg Miller evacuated his home just north of Lake Pontchartrain in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he loaded up the car with his wife...

Share story

When Greg Miller evacuated his home just north of Lake Pontchartrain in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he loaded up the car with his wife, three dogs and anything else they could carry — only to realize shortly later that his trombone wasn’t in the car.

A trombonist with the Louisiana Philharmonic, based in New Orleans, Miller gave the State Police a panicky phone call, and they let him go back to his town of Mandeville to recover his instrument — as long as he left again promptly.

Now he’s in Seattle, staying with fellow trombonist and Seattle Symphony member Steve Fissel. Miller and his fellow Louisiana Phil brassman, trumpeter Vance Woolf, will be among the players in tonight’s free benefit concert presented by the symphony in Benaroya Hall.

“We’re so lucky to have lifelong friends who are very good to us,” Miller said. “Steve just called and said, ‘Come on over!’ “

Tonight the Seattle Symphony says “come on over” to Pacific Northwest residents who want to contribute to relief efforts for the Katrina victims — hearing some great symphonic music at the same time. The orchestra is the first major symphony nationwide to organize a benefit concert such as today’s 8 p.m. program.

“Symphony of Relief”

Tickets: Free general admission tickets for “A Symphony of Relief” may be picked up in person only at the Seattle Symphony ticket office in Benaroya Hall (corner of Third and Union) before 7:45 tonight (subject to availability; up to four tickets per household). Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; concert starts at 8 p.m. at the hall, 200 University St., Seattle.

Donations: Checks or cash donations will be accepted during the evening. Credit-card transactions will not be available. Those who write checks made out to the “American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund” will be issued receipts by the Red Cross. No receipts will be given for cash donations.

Death Cab for Cutie benefit


Details: Death Cab for Cutie’s special benefit concert to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina at 8 p.m. Wednesday is already sold out. The show at the Showbox features fellow Seattleites Harvey Danger and Viva Voce opening (21 and

older).

Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley event


When: Monday; doors open at 6 p.m. on Monday, music starts at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., Seattle.

Details: Headlining a long list of performers are Henry Butler, Annieville Blues and Lee Oskar; the emcee is Robin Lloyd of KPLU, and the deejay is Greg Vandy of KEXP. A minimum donation of $25 is suggested; all proceeds go to New Orleans displaced musicians (wwoz.org/clinic

or www.jazzalley.com).

Two other large-scale local benefits also are in the works. Wednesday at Seattle’s Showbox, the band Death Cab for Cutie will headline a sold-out concert to aid the hurricane victims. And Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley is hosting a fund-raiser for the New Orleans Jazz Clinic on Monday evening, with several noted jazz/blues artists participating.

Greg Miller says he and his wife are lucky: Their house was one of about five in a row in their subdivision that didn’t sustain major damage. Driving back to get that trombone, however, was a harrowing trip.

“There was not a single tree standing,” he said. “No telephone poles; no power lines. One telephone pole was sticking out of a house across the street from us. Big pine trees had flown 100 yards down the street.”

Miller, Woolf and the other players also are worried about the fate of their orchestra, formerly the New Orleans Symphony, which reorganized as the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra after a period of serious financial difficulties. Ironically, this season was to have been the big push by the board and the community to boost the LPO’s fortunes; clearly, that won’t happen now.

“We’re all just amazed,” Miller said, “that the Seattle Symphony people have stepped forward on our behalf like this. But I know that people in the LPO would have done the same thing for them. It’s a small world — symphonies are like families, so we’re all sort of related.”

The impulse for the benefit came from the staff, with an e-mail sent out by public relations director Mary Langholz: “How can we help?” Orchestra manager Jennifer Adair came up with the idea of a benefit concert on a night when there was a gap in the orchestra’s schedule; Seattle Symphony music director Gerard Schwarz immediately approved, and the orchestra players were unanimously in favor. Cellist Lynn Harrell, who plays subscription programs Wednesday through Sunday, offered to play the lovely Fauré “Elegie” with the orchestra.

“To be able to feel you can use music in a tangible way to make a difference is a wonderful thing,” said Schwarz. Schwarz, like all the orchestral players, Harrell, staff and ushers, is donating his time for tonight’s benefit concert.

The program opens with Copland’s inspiring “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Audience members will have a chance to scope out the visiting concertmaster, Elisabeth Adkins, who performs the Adagio movement of the Bach Concerto for Violin and Oboe with principal oboe Nathan Hughes; then there’s a movement from Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony. The finale is the Brahms grand Symphony No. 4.

“I anticipate everybody coming,” Schwarz said, “and being very generous. It makes us all very proud to be able to pull this together so quickly and to use music to make a difference.”

Death Cab for Cutie also responded quickly, said manager Jordan Kurland. “The band really wanted to do something to help aid those affected by the hurricane. They were already renting the Showbox for two nights of dress rehearsal to get ready for the fall tour,” Kurland said.

“Chad [Queirolo, Showbox booker] — as he did in January after the tsunami — was looking to put together a show so they decided to turn the second night into a benefit. Chad and the Showbox were generous enough to donate the room so that all proceeds from ticket sales will be donated.”

Tickets were announced last week, and fans of DCFC acted fast: The show is sold out. The band’s North American tour starts Oct. 3 and its Seattle shows — concluding the tour at the Paramount Theatre — are also sold out. The ticketless can catch the band Sept. 27 on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

More ways to help

You can always contact the American Red Cross (800-HELP-NOW, 800-435-7669; www.redcross.org) to contribute.

Those who want to give specifically to musical causes should go to www.artsjournal. com/adaptistration, which has news of the efforts to help displaced Gulf Coast musicians, including members of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, with hundreds of offers of housing and help pouring in from across the country. The American Federation of Musicians, the American Symphony Orchestra League and MusiCares have all established fund-raising efforts to help musicians in cities affected by Hurricane Katrina. These efforts and others are listed in the above Arts Journal/Adaptistration Web site, where blogger Drew McManus has established an online clearinghouse.

Find more local Hurricane Katrina benefit concerts in the concerts list.

Melinda Bargreen: mbargreen@seattletimes.com