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Concert honoring Ana Márquez-Greene, student killed at Sandy Hook, returns after pandemic pause

Dave Wurtzel
Connecticut Public
An ensemble led by Jimmy Greene (above) will perform Saturday, April 29, at the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall on WCSU’s Westside Campus. Collaborators include pianist Orrin Evans, singer Claudia Acuña, bassist Dezron Douglas, and drummer Otis Brown III.

An annual benefit concert in memory of one of the children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting is returning this Saturday after a pandemic-imposed hiatus.

The “Love Wins!” event is the brainchild of saxophonist and Western Connecticut State University music professor Jimmy Greene, whose daughter, Ana Grace Márquez-Greene, died in the attack.

“In the days and weeks after she was killed, I would get calls,” Greene said. “‘What can I send in lieu of sending flowers? Is there something we can donate to? Is there some charity that you guys support?’”

Greene said he and his wife, Nelba, considered how they would like to continue their daughter’s legacy.

“We needed to do something that's reflective of what Ana loved,” Greene said. “And at the same time will help people, because she loved people and she loved music.”

That’s how Greene came to launch the Ana Grace Márquez-Greene Endowed Music Scholarship at WCSU, which helps defray the cost of tuition for selected incoming music students at the university.

Greene reflected on how the concert gives him a renewed sense of community support each year.

“The feeling of missing my daughter, the feeling of sadness and anger that she's not here, and the reasons why she's not here, that doesn't really change from year to year,” Greene said. “What does change is, I'm always amazed at how much people still want to remember her, still care, are still supportive.”

The scholarship was launched in the days following the 2012 shooting. Greene and WCSU held the award’s first benefit concert in 2015.

“After all this time, this concert, every year, has packed the auditorium every year we've done it — it's been a packed house," he said. "And so many loving people just wanting to be there and wanting to support and wanting to remember our daughter and wanting to be a blessing to our family.”

Greene, a two-time Grammy nominee, has released two records in Ana’s memory: 2014’s “Beautiful Life” and 2017’s “Flowers: Beautiful Life, Volume 2.”

Saturday’s performance will feature an ensemble led by Greene on sax, with collaborators including pianist Orrin Evans, singer Claudia Acuña, bassist Dezron Douglas, and drummer Otis Brown III.

Learn more
The concert will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall on WCSU’s Westside Campus. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door, and available for purchase online.

Chris Polansky joined Connecticut Public in March 2023 as a general assignment and breaking news reporter based in Hartford. Previously, he’s worked at Utah Public Radio in Logan, Utah, as a general assignment reporter; Lehigh Valley Public Media in Bethlehem, Pa., as an anchor and producer for All Things Considered; and at Public Radio Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla., where he both reported and hosted Morning Edition.