InterVol, a humanitarian and medical relief nonprofit, will be the cause behind a West Coast concert May 11 featuring New York Philharmonic principal trombonist and Bay Area native Joe Alessi.
Alessi will perform at 7:30 p.m. at Sonoma State University’s Evert B. Person Theatre in Rohnert Park. He is performing at the invitation of local physician Dr. Aimee Chagnon, a doctor who has worked with InterVol in Haiti and Rwanda.
InterVol is a non-profit volunteer organization founded in 1989 by Rochester, N.Y., physician Dr. Ralph Pennino. It is dedicated to serving others by recovering and redistributing medical supplies and equipment; building hospitals; providing training for local medical practitioners, and providing emergency medical relief.
“This event is not only about raising money, but for the medical community to understand that they can be useful in global relief,” said Dr. Chagnon, who has participated in InterVol’s Volunteer Medical Professionals program for the last several years.
As a neurologist, Chagnon once thought like many specialists that her training made her less useful in a crisis. But that changed after she felt a call to action in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. “As American doctors, we are incredibly well-trained and there is so much any specialist can do to save and better lives in the third world,” she said. “You are drawn in to make something better and then you realize that the work is making you better.”
Dr. Pennino, InterVol’s founder, expressed his appreciation for the planned concert. “On the evening of the concert I will be in Leogane, Haiti, along with other medical and non-medical volunteers. We will be helping a local hospital rebuild its services and supplying badly needed equipment. We will also rebuild housing for an orphanage. Proceeds from the concert will help both of these projects, which were made necessary by the devastating earthquake in 2010.
“I would like to thank Joe Alessi and the Sonoma State University Music Department for their efforts and support. I also want to thank my good friends Aimee Chagnon and her husband Dan Nichols, with whom I had the opportunity to volunteer in Haiti and Rwanda,” said Dr. Pennino.
Dr. Chagnon has a neurology and pain management clinic in Sonoma and Nichols is an architect. Nichols has accompanied his wife on InterVol travels and is grateful for the opportunity to volunteer at everything from dispensing medicine to organizing volunteers to helping build clinics.
The two are personal friends of Joe Alessi, who is known worldwide as a trombone soloist, recitalist, chamber music performer, and master teacher. Principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic since 1985, he began musical studies with his father Joseph Alessi Sr. As a high school student in San Rafael, he was a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony before continuing his musical training at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Alessi’s Sonoma State appearance coincides with the New York Philharmonic’s West Coast tour of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
Alessi is donating his artist fee to support InterVol’s humanitarian missions. “They are a stellar group of doctors and nurses who do fabulous work all over the world,” said Alessi.
In addition to Haiti, InterVol responds to medical needs in Rwanda, Native American reservations in the United States, Ghana, Ethiopia, Brazil, Moldova and Somalia. Doctors volunteer their time to travel with InterVol on special projects, usually on trips of one to three weeks, guided by Dr. Pennino and his team. Unlike other travelling medical teams that may require commitments for longer periods of time, InterVol offers physicians the opportunity to donate time more typical of their vacation schedules to make a huge difference in the lives of others.
Tickets to the benefit concert are $15-$25 and available online at sonoma.edu/music or by calling the SSU box office at 664.2353. Seats are general admission and advance purchase is recommended.
For more information about InterVol or to donate or volunteer, please visit: intervol.org