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The Choral Commons
42 minutes | 4 months ago
Liberation Theology, Poverty, and the Choir / Yara Allen and Charon Hribar
In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America. They sought to build a broad, fusion movement that could unite poor and impacted communities across the country. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has picked up this unfinished work. From Alaska to Arkansas, the Bronx to the border, people are coming together to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy. Yara Allen and Chiron Hribar are Co-Directors of Theomusicology and Movement Arts for the Poor People’s Campaign and founders of the Moral Voices Choir. Yara Allen is Director of Cultural Arts & Theomusicologist for Repairers of the Breach, a non profit organization that works nationally to advance a moral agenda that uplifts the moral values of love, justice, and mercy for the poor, women, LGBTQ people, children, workers, immigrants, communities of color, and the sick. Chiron Hribar serves as the Director of Cultural Strategies at the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice, an organization that works to raise up generations of religious and community leaders committed to the unity and organization of the poor as the leading social force in the building of a broad transformative movement to end poverty.As choral musicians increasingly interrogate elitism and exclusion in choral practice, we search for ways to bring protest into practice and to organize and collaborate for racial, economic, and social justice.
41 minutes | 5 months ago
Intercultural Understanding and the Choir / Micah Hendler
Palestinians and Israelis are deeply divided by borders, religion, and political orientation. This is partly caused by the asymmetrical power dynamic resulting from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. This hotly contested landscape presents enormous challenges for those who seek to build choral bridges, and to create communities between groups who do not typically interact. While there have been numerous choral and musical peacebuilding efforts, fundamental questions remain about whether and how to create choral music that is focused on justice and peace.Micah Hendler is a musical changemaker and organizer, working to harness the power of youth voices to make a difference in their communities. Micah founded the Israeli-Palestinian Jerusalem Youth Chorus in 2012 as a synthesis of years of work in musical community-building and conflict transformation. The Jerusalem Youth Chorus is a choral and dialogue program for Palestinian and Israeli youth in Jerusalem, whose mission is to provide a space for these young people from East and West Jerusalem to grow together in song and dialogue. Through the co-creation of music and the sharing of stories, they empower youth in Jerusalem with the responsibility to speak and sing their truths, as they become leaders in their communities and inspire singers and listeners around the world to work for peace, justice, inclusion, and equality.
40 minutes | 5 months ago
Borders, Bridges, and the Choir / Ahmed Anzaldúa
In her book, Borderlands/La Frontera, the great Chicana poet, author, and activist, Gloria Anzaldúa writes, “Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line…The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants.” Recently, the field of choral music has begun to extend the work of social justice to borders and the harm they cause. As we struggle for ways to understand the lives of refugees, immigrants, and the displaced through music, we find ourselves seeking to engage deeply with the prohibited and the forbidden. How can we get close? How can we listen deeply? How can we compassionately reflect these stories in our music-making?Ahmed Anzaldúa is a Mexican choral conductor, classical pianist, and music educator of Egyptian descent. He is the director and founder of Border CrosSing, an organization dedicated to integrating historically-segregated audiences, repertoires, and musicians through the performance of choral music. Founded in 2017, Border CrosSing envisions fundamental change in classical music culture, so that every concert, every audience, and the artists on stage truly reflect the cultural reality of the community. Their work provides opportunities for people from different backgrounds to understand each other in new ways through their multi-lingual Puentes concert series, educational programs in schools, and collaborations with Minnesota-based arts and cultural organizations.
45 minutes | 5 months ago
Multiculturalism, Authenticity, and the Choir / Patty Cuyler and Mollie Stone
Since late last century, choral musicians and music educators have been deeply invested in multiculturalism as a pedagogical tool for bridging cultural divides and building empathy. Multiculturalism’s great potential has been accompanied by a host of related problems, from cultural sensitivity and questions of authenticity, to the ethical transmission of cultural practices. More recently, the discourse has centered around cultural appropriation, coloniality, and fairness. In the center of this tangled and slippery conversation, choral musicians are struggling to find an equity-centered way of global and non-Eurocentric music-making.Patty Cuyler is workshop leader and choral director known for her expertise in teaching Corsican, Georgian and South African music. Since 1995, she has been co-director of Village Harmony, a Vermont-based community music organization with educational and travel programs centered around communal song traditions around the world. Mollie Stone serves as Choral Conductor and Lecturer at the University of Chicago, Director of World Music and Conductor at Chicago Children's Choir, Co-Director of Chicago World Music Chorus, and a teacher for Village Harmony. She lectures and gives workshops on Black South African choral music across the country, working to promote the work of Black South African composers, conductors and choirs.The songs you heard throughout this episode featured the artistry of culture bearers who regularly collaborate with Village Harmony. We are particularly grateful for recordings from the Zedashe Ensemble, Bongani Magatyana and the Bongweni Old Apostolic Church Choirs, the University of Capetown Choir for Africa, Marie-Ange Geronimi, Jean-Etienne Langianni and the late Jacky Micaelli.
42 minutes | 5 months ago
Racial Justice, Activism, and the Choir / Tesfa Wondemagegnehu
Tesfa Wondemagegnehu is a conductor, educator, and activist. He teaches at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he conducts two choirs and teaches courses on the intersection of Music & Social Justice movements. Through the love and dedication of music teachers with whom he has studied, and an abundance of grit and determination, Tesfa has risen to be one of the most sought-after conductors and educators in the country and is on the cutting edge of music-related social justice movements throughout the United States. He is the co-founder of the Justice Choir movement, a grassroots movement that aspires to harness the empathetic, collaborative, and collective power of communal singing for social and environmental change.The songs you heard in the middle of the episode were recorded at a Black Lives Matter protest that took place in Washington, DC, on June 8th. The recording was generously provided by Micah Hendler who leads the DC chapter of the Justice Choir. The sound sculpture that you heard at the beginning and end of this interview was devised by creative producer Chris Clark and featured narration by members of VOICES21C.
50 minutes | 6 months ago
Indigeneity and Decolonial Choral Practice / Jace Kaholokula Saplan
Indigenous people have been subjected to colonization for centuries. However, by contrast with several other settler nations, the genocide of indigenous people in the United States has rarely entered the mainstream narrative. Recently, some in our profession are interrogating the colonial nature of the Euro paradigm of choral music while searching for more expressive and authentic expressions of indigenous culture.Conductor, educator, and scholar, Dr. Jace Kaholokula Saplan is known for his work in celebrating the intersection between Hawaiian music and choral performance. He is director of choral activities and assistant professor of music at the University of Hawai’i, and the founder and artistic director of Nā Wai Chamber Choir. Nā Wai Chamber Choir is a treble ensemble dedicated to the preservation, propagation, and innovation of Hawaiian choral music. They perform a diverse array of repertoire from across the world, rooting process and perspectives through a Hawaiian lens. Since 2009, Nā Wai has commissioned and mentored emerging Native Hawaiian composers and choral musicians, toured throughout rural Hawaiian communities, and led workshops on the performance of Hawaiian choral music throughout the country.
46 minutes | 6 months ago
Girl Power, Creative Youth Development, and the Choir / Alysia Lee
Alysia Lee is the Founder and Artistic Director of Sister Cities Girlchoir, the El Sistema-inspired, girl empowerment, choral academy in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey. She is the education program supervisor for Fine Arts education for the Maryland State Department of Education where she shares her vision of statewide equity and excellence across five arts disciplines: music, dance, visual arts, theatre, and media arts. In today’s episode, Emilie and André speak with Alysia Lee about her work with the Sister Cities Girlchoir and about creating opportunities for girls to collectively narrate their own past and present experiences as well as their connections to historical, social, political, and economic futures.
32 minutes | 6 months ago
Reimagining the Choir: Chorus America Virtual Conference 2020 / Emilie Amrein and André de Quadros
Black activist and poet, Sonya Renee Taylor, writes, “We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was never normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, My friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”This week, instead of a long form interview, we’re sharing a portion of the presentation Emilie and André gave to Chorus America this past June, three weeks after the brutal murder of George Floyd and the countless uprisings for Black Lives around the country. The conversation, titled Reimagining the Choir, explored some uncomfortable topics before considering a pathway forward based on mutuality, community, and reciprocal relationships.
43 minutes | 6 months ago
Empowering Song, Incarceration, and the Choir / Emily Howe and Bobby Iacoviello
The Empowering Song approach was originally developed in Massachusetts prisons by André de Quadros, Emily Howe, and Jamie Hillman to create an artistic interdisciplinarity that, while rooted in music, stretches into different arts areas. This approach which traverses improvisation and storytelling through poetry, songwriting, visual arts, movement, and theatre, has been used in multiple choral settings and missions, including community choruses, reconciliation and peace-building projects, mental health programs, and displacement contexts.Emily Howe is an ethnomusicologist, music educator, and conductor based in Boston. In 2012, Emily started co-teaching in Boston University's Prison Education Program, where she has worked to develop interdisciplinary pedagogical strategies that empower incarcerated people to explore their creative potential. She currently teaches at Curry College in Boston. Bobby Iacoviello is a formerly incarcerated person who participated in the Empowering Song course through the Boston University Prison Education Program.
49 minutes | 6 months ago
Race, Mass Incarceration, and the Choir / Halim Flowers
HALIM A. FLOWERS was arrested at the age of sixteen and sentenced as an adult to two life sentences in the District of Columbia. His experiences as a child in the adult prison system were filmed in the Emmy award-winning documentary “Thug Life In DC.” In 2005, he started his own publishing company, SATO Communications, through which he has published eleven books. On March 21, 2019, Halim was released from prison after serving twenty-two years. Halim Flowers is an artist, poet, and performer. His fashion line “Ideallionaires” is a social justice brand that incorporates his poetry into apparel to amplify social impact. He serves as a consultant for Vera Institute, where he uses his experiences as a juvenile lifer to educate attorneys, judges, and prosecutors on how to effectively implement restorative justice principles into our juvenile justice system. You can learn more about Halim on his website www.halimaflowers.com.In early 2020, VOICES 21C, a Boston-based artists’ collective developed a program on peace and justice for performance at the Eastern Division conference of the American Choral Directors Association. For the third act on race and mass incarceration, the ensemble invited Halim to collaborate in poetry, narrative, and song. Discover VOICES21C at www.voices21c.org.
49 minutes | 7 months ago
Disability Justice, Radical Inclusion, and the Choir / Andrew Clark and Kristina Gillis
KRISTINA GILLIS is a graduate of the threshold program at Lesley University and a member of Cambridge Common Voices. ANDY CLARK teaches at Harvard University and is director of Cambridge Common Voices, a choral organization that strives to create an inclusive musical space and practice and explore innovative approaches to music making.CAMBRIDGE COMMON VOICES is a community chorus established in partnership between Harvard College and the threshold program at Lesley University. A transition program for young adults with diverse learning challenges. We spoke with the group's director Andy Clark and founding member Kristina Gillis, in late May.
49 minutes | 7 months ago
Refugees, Forced Migration, and the Choir / Jeremy Haneman
JEREMY HANEMAN is a conductor and musical director who specialises in choral and operatic repertoire. He is the Co-Director of Together Productions, a company that produces ground-breaking work using music and the arts to inspire social change.SINGING OUR LIVES is a ground-breaking project bringing refugee, migrant and local communities together with professional musicians to compose new music and perform together. Conceived and developed by Together Productions, the project has attracted partners including the Royal Opera House, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the International Organization for Migration, amongst many others. The project celebrates diversity and solidarity through choral music, and has pioneered a unique collaborative dialogue and composition process that results in powerful new works reflecting the culture and experiences of hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds across the UK.
7 minutes | 7 months ago
Introducing The Choral Commons
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