Israel Cuenca is from Ecuador and works at U of L. | Courtesy of Israel Cuenca
Israel Cuenca is from Ecuador and works at U of L. | Courtesy of Israel Cuenca

On Saturday, April 16, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the small South American country of Ecuador, destroying many cities and villages along its coastline. It killed more than 650 people, injured over 4,000 and affected nearly 34,000. Since then, two additional earthquakes have hit the same area, but it does not appear the aftershocks have caused additional damage.

Israel Cuenca — a native of Ecuador who works as an IT, sound and video engineering assistant at U of L’s School of Music — watched in horror as the scenes of his decimated homeland unfolded in media coverage. Luckily his family resides in Loja, the southern part of the country, where no injuries were reported. But he couldn’t sit back and do nothing.

Two days after the earthquake, Cuenca decided to organize a benefit concert to help raise funds for his country. The “Hope for Ecuador Benefit Concert” will take place Sunday, May 22, at U of L’s Comstock Hall and features numerous Louisville musicians who stepped up for the cause.

Cuenca, who left Ecuador in 2008 when he got a full scholarship to U of L, says he was humbled by the willingness of the musicians and U of L to help with the concert. He tells Insider he was most surprised by “the willingness, time flexibility and great help of all the musicians who will be performing in this concert and the support of the Louisville community in general, different organizations in town, the Ecuadorian community in Louisville, family and friends.”

Appalatin will play at the "Hope for Ecuador" concert.
Appalatin will play at the “Hope for Ecuador” concert.

The benefit features Harry Pickens, Appalatin, the Lunares Flamenco Ensemble and Jerry Tolson Band, as well as the duos Carly Johnson and Craig Wagner, Michael Tracy and Winton Reynolds, Reese Land and Carlos Cuenca, and Ecuadorian singers Daniela Carrion and Paula Andre.

“This event will bring together hundreds of people for great music, dancing and community support in a lively atmosphere,” Cuenca says in the press release. “The people of Ecuador need help and this is a way our Louisville community can help them.”

“Hope for Ecuador” will run 6-8 p.m. on Sunday, May 22, at Comstock Hall. Tickets are $10, and all proceeds go to Water Step, Sister Cities, Red Cross Ecuador and the Minister of Social Inclusion in Ecuador, which all are providing on-the-ground disaster relief.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."