Commemorating the Centennial of The Red Summer, Grace Chorale of Brooklyn Commissions “A Stone to the Head: The Death of Eugene Williams.”

This year marks two significant anniversaries in American history:  the 400th anniversary of African slaves being brought to what is now the United States and the centennial of the Red Summer of 1919, when deadly racial clashes and lynchings across the country led to the deaths of hundreds of people, mostly African-Americans, as well as the destruction of thousands of African-American homes and businesses.  In the decade leading up to the summer of 1919, the Great Migration had begun in 1910, initiating the relocation north and west of six million African-Americans from the southern United States. Spurred by economic oppression and Jim Crow segregation laws, African-Americans found employment in Northern cities that were experiencing labor shortages due to World War I. However, returning white soldiers resented black Americans who had been given the jobs they themselves once held. African-American soldiers, in turn, resented their exclusion from the peacetime benefits enjoyed by white soldiers. Tensions reached a boiling point in the spring of 1919 when the first racially motivated attacks began. Lasting from May through October, the period of these conflicts became known as the "Red Summer."

 In a spirit of equal justice and reconciliation, Grace Chorale of Brooklyn commissioned Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa, a Zimbabwean composer and singer, and Flannery Cunningham, an American composer and musicologist, to write a piece that would commemorate this seminal period in American history that is often overlooked.  They chose to tell the story of the death of Euguene Williams, and the Chorale premiered the piece in March of this year.

 Eugene Williams was killed a century ago today on Sunday July 27, 1919, when five teenagers met at the 27th Street beach by Lake Michigan. The 25th Street beach was known as the “black beach” and at 29th Street was the “white beach,” but the boys had claimed 27th Street as their own. For several weeks, a team of black boys had come to 27th Street to work on a raft that would keep them afloat on the lake. The boys could not swim, but they knew if they held onto the raft, they could safely enjoy the water.

 That Sunday, however, their safety was challenged by a white man, George Stauber, standing at the breakwater near 26th Street. The man hurled stones in an effort to drive the boys off. At first the boys made dodging the stones into a game, but the game soon turned tragic. Eugene was struck on the forehead and drowned.  All this was reported to a black policeman, who marched up to 29th Street to identify Eugene’s killer. Officer Daniel Callahan, the white police officer on duty, refused to permit the arrest. As the two policeman argued, word spread like wildfire; hundreds of black patrons descended upon 29th Street beach and violence ensued. The death of Eugene Williams triggered a vicious clash that would be recorded in history as the “Chicago Race Riot,” the most devastating of at least 25 violent racial wars that took place during the summer of 1919.

 “A Stone to the Head: The Death of Eugene Williams” is a choral drama for a mixed chamber group, including an improvising percussionist and fixed media which features mbira recordings performed by Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa. The composers explain, “The Mbira dzaVadzimu is a Madzimbabwe (present-day Zimbabwe) instrument whose ritual purpose is to facilitate communication between the human plane and the ancestral realm. In Madzimbabwe cosmologies and spiritual practice, a murdered spirit cannot become an ancestor unless Kuripa, a ritual of confession and collective responsibility, is conducted. Until this happens, the spirit is to doomed to wander listlessly in the realm of the living — Kudzungaira — with no way to transition to Nyikadzimu, the land of the ancestors. Eugene’s spirit was condemned to such a fate. The purpose of this piece is to call on Eugene’s spirit, to tell his story and to assume collective responsibility that will at last usher his spirit to the land of ancestors where he can finally rest. As such, our goal with the text was to honor Eugene’s narrative through the use of as much primary source material as possible. We spent a great deal of time in detailed research, looking at sources that would serve our intention to tell this story as honestly as we could. These sources included firsthand accounts as well as the music and songs of the time.”

 James Baldwin is quoted as saying, "The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it with us and are unconsciously controlled by it... history is literally present in all that we do."  This work is a vivid reminder of a painful chapter in American history that still defines who we are as a country today.

 Learn more about the Red Summer by reading Cameron McWhirter’s Red Summer:  The Red Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America.

Armed National Guards and African American men standing on a sidewalk during the race riots in Chicago, Illinois, 1919.   Jun Fujita/Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum

Armed National Guards and African American men standing on a sidewalk during the race riots in Chicago, Illinois, 1919.

Jun Fujita/Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum

Atlanta Homeward Choir Empowering the Homeless Through Music and Inspiring the Housed to Action-Atlanta, Georgia

Entering its fourth season, the Atlanta Homeward Choir “works to bring together members from every background and belief system who have ever battled homelessness, using music and performance art as a vessel to uplift, encourage and instill a sense of community in its participants.”  The group has received national and international media attention as it continues to “grow as it shares its mission to uplift, encourage and instill a sense of community through the music.  Members of the choir from all walks of life are guests of the Central Night Shelter, a joint effort of Central Presbyterian Church and The Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, both located on Capitol Hill in downtown Atlanta.  The shelter provides a warm place to sleep, a nourishing meal and a hot shower for approximately 100 men every night. Many of the men are currently working or actively seeking employment. 

According to their website, the Atlanta Homeward Choir “works to bring together members from every background and belief system who have ever battled homelessness, using music and performance art as a vessel to uplift, encourage and instill a sense of community in its participants.  The choir season begins when Central Night Shelter opens its doors on November 1 and continues through March 31 when it closes. Membership in the choir is open to all shelter guests, as well as to other members of the community who were once homeless and are now housed.”  The Atlanta Homeward Choir uplifts the men who participate while changing the perception of homelessness in the community by exposing the gifts in these fellow human beings who have been so easily overlooked. 

Click here to learn more about the history of the chorus and the founder, Dónal Noonan.  The group was featured on CBS after their White House performance in 2015.

Joyful Noise Chorus Brings Together Singers with Physical and Neurological Challenges and Acquired Brain Injuries- Morristown, New Jersey

Joyful Noise, founded in 2000 by director Allison Fromm and her sister, Beth Fromm, has created a singing community comprised of 45 adults ages 17-70 with physical and neurological challenges and acquired brain injuries.  The ensemble is hosted by Bancroft, a non-profit provider for individuals with brain injuries, autism, and intellectual disabilities, in southern New Jersey and Delaware.  “Joyful Noise fosters an atmosphere of community, acceptance, and teamwork in which members can discover their voices and express themselves through music.”  The chorus serves as a model and a resource for similar ensembles that seek to develop in their members a sense of pride, confidence, and the potential to contribute to our world.

“Joyful Noise has given more than eighty performances in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Illinois and has shared concerts with Harmonium, Western Wind, and Alice Parker. With funding from the Philadelphia Eagles Community Quarterback program, Joyful Noise is commissioning new works by recognized choral composers: Chester Alwes, James Bassi, Gerald Cohen, Edie Hill, Rob Kennan, Elliot Levine, J. David Moore, Nick Page, Alice Parker, Steven Sametz, and Jon Washburn.  Joyful Noise members truly love to sing, perform and share from their hearts. Their love of music is reaching across the nation, so that other adults with disabilities will have the chance to sing and share in the joy that comes from being a part of a performing ensemble.”

OperaDelaware and Wilmington Children’s Chorus Take the Choir to the Child with Neighborhood Choir Program-Wilmington, Delaware

VOICES of Kentuckiana Spreading Message of Acceptance and Equality Through Their Music-Louisville, Kentucky

VOICES of Kentuckiana, founded in 1994 as an inclusive chorus that strives to change hearts and minds through song, “is a chorus for the community that celebrates diversity and is dedicated to fostering positive social change through artistic excellence.”  Under the direction of Jeff Buhrman, the chorus initiated a Youth Outreach Program in 2014 in an effort to bring their music and their message of acceptance and equality to local high schools.  Since then, they have partnered with GSAs, GSTAs and The Louisville Youth Group on performance projects and school programming. 

VOICES has a large footprint in the broader Louisville community.  The group has performed at the Indiana Bicentennial Celebration, Volunteers of America’s annual breakfast, the Louisville AIDS Walk, Kentuckiana Pride Festival, Shine on Louisville, The March for Justice, and World AIDS Day.  VOICES has partnered with choruses from Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Nashville to present joint concerts in Louisville, and they have performed with the Louisville Orchestra, the Louisville Brass Ensemble, the Louisville Gay Men’s Chorus, and with several community church choirs.

VOICES values inclusivity, courage, musicianship, cooperation, empowerment, integrity and joy.  The chorus has participated in international LGBTA choral festivals in Tampa (1996), San Jose (2000), Montreal (2004), Miami (2008), and Denver (2012, 2016).  “Joe Nord, who has been a member of VOICES for two years, loves the inclusiveness. ‘For a few years, I had been wanting to join a choral group but I hadn’t sung in several years and was concerned that I wouldn’t be good enough. My friend, Paula Head, had been singing with VOICES of Kentuckiana for several years and suggested I come to their open enrollment in the Fall of 2013. I knew very quickly I had found the right group!’”

Maybelle Community Singers Connecting Portland’s Isolated and Ignored-Portland, Oregon

The Maybelle Center for Community in Old Town/Downtown Portland believes that no one deserves to live in isolation. They have been building community and relationships with individuals for 25 years.  “Maybelle Center for Community is doing something unusual and powerful. We are creating connection and community for people that have been isolated and ignored by society. Each year, we assist nearly 500 people, helping them to connect to the community and care that helps them live better lives.”

Last year, the Center hired a choir director and piano accompanist when they created the Maybelle Community Singers as a way to use choral music to create community and a sense of belonging.  Choir members joined the choir for fifteen weeks at the end of which they gave a performance at the Center’s summer open house.  “Vince Irelan is one of the Maybelle members. He describes himself as transgender pre-op.  ‘That makes it very difficult in this world. I have to come home to all this loneliness. I'm kind of cast out by my own circumstance,’ said Vince. ‘It's the place I call home. Where people call me family,’ said Vince.”  The choir is now preparing for its next concert.

Voices of Omaha Brings Together the Greater Omaha Community with Annual Performances of Handel’s Messiah -Omaha, Nebraska

Voices of Omaha’s sole mission since 1969 has been to present an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah without admission charge as a gift to the community.  The 195-voice non-auditioned chorus “is committed to developing a diverse audience and chorus membership by maintaining relevance in the present and nurturing musicians of all ages to assure an audience and chorus for the future.”  More recently, the group struggled to engage new singers, so they launched a seven-year strategic growth project in 2011 to assess their image, their diversity of audience and chorus members, and their educational outreach. 

 As a result of this plan, they have attracted twenty high school-age students who participate in the chorus or orchestra; they print programs, announcements and audition materials in English and Spanish to broaden their audience turnout; they waive dues and provide scores and concert attire for high school performers; they create an audio description of the performance in English for those who are visually impaired, and they have an ASL interpreter for audience members who have deafness.

“Seeing young people, singers and instrumentalists, excited about performing a Baroque masterpiece like Messiah is thrilling to me,” says Voices of Omaha artistic director Edward Hurd. “These talented young people breathe life into everything they do and their enthusiasm is contagious. Indeed, they are the serious choir and orchestra members of the future. It brings us great joy to fan the flames of their passion for fine music!”

Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African-American Song Gives Voice to One of America's Great Musical Traditions-Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African-American Song is a group of nearly 40 singers committed to promoting the tremendously wide range of experiences expressed in African-American music.  The organization’s roots go back to informal gatherings in the 1960s at the home of Edmonia Simmons during college breaks, when a group of singers gathered to sing together. “In 1984, Dr. Lee Norris Mackey, protégé of Simmons, undertook a research project to investigate the programming performance practices, and recordings of African American spirituals by choirs of Historically Black Colleges, and Universities. He found that there had been a significant decline in the performance of spirituals, especially in the Southeast and among Historically Black Colleges and Universities; thus the need, mission, and name of the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song were affirmed.”  Dr. Mackey formally establish the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song in 1984.”

“The mission of the Society expanded to include art music of African American composers,” said Roland Carter, director from 1990-2012. “In 1990, the name changed to the Society for the Preservation of African American Song to reflect this expansion.”  The Choral Society has a regular season of performances that feature a blended program of African-American music, including art music, out-of-print pieces, old standards, some Gospel, and always some spirituals.  The organization is now connected with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Las Vegas Master Singers a Wellspring of Creativity & Joy in the Desert-Las Vegas, Nevada

When one thinks of Las Vegas, choral music is likely the last thing to come to mind.  However, The Las Vegas Master Singers have been defying that stereotype by making stunning choral music in the Las Vegas Valley since 1993.  The 100-voice community choir, founded by Susan L. Johnson, grew from a small group of dedicated vocalists who came together to sing "for the joy of it." Since then, the Master Singers quickly became recognized as one of the premiere choral organizations in the Las Vegas Valley.

The choir, under the direction of David B. Weiller, is comprised of teachers, choral directors, organists, pianists, and performers from the Southern Nevada community who are committed to forging partnerships with other arts organizations.  LVMS performs with Las Vegas Philharmonic, the Henderson Civic Symphony, the Desert Chorale, the Nevada Chamber Symphony, the Southern Nevada Opera Association, and the Cultural Arts Society.  The group has welcomed students from the Las Vegas Academy, Nevada School of the Arts, Las Vegas Dance Theater Studios, Palo Verde High School Chamber Singers and Boys Chorus of Southern Nevada as guest performers.

Birmingham Girls Choir Creating a Space for Girls from Diverse Backgrounds to Join In Song-Birmingham, Alabama

The Birmingham Girls Choir, founded in 1998 as the Birmingham Children’s Choir, is a multi-cultural organization for girls in grades 1-12 that celebrates diversity through the study and community-wide performances of choral music.  “BGC seeks to enrich the lives of girls from all religious, racial, cultural and economic backgrounds.”  In 2011, the group transitioned to a girls choir in order to allow for more cooperation with the Birmingham Boys Choir.

BGC plays an important role in the greater Birmingham area by creating a space for girls from diverse  backgrounds to come together and enhance the cultural fabric of the community.   The choir has performed in nursing homes, the local children’s hospital, and has sung the national anthem for Birmingham Baron’s games and the Harlem Globetrotters appearance at Stamford University.  In addition to participating in opera productions at the University of Alabama and Opera Birmingham, the choir participates in various regional choral festivals.  The girls recently took a 3-day trip to Chattanooga, and in October, they hosted the Matsiko World Orphan Choir.

International Children’s Choir Creating a Window Into the Soul of Humanity-

The International Children’s Choir, now in its 25th year, is the realization of Dr. Kathy Sorensen’s vision to create a musical ensemble that celebrates folk music traditions, therefore deepening the understanding that one has of the humanity of others.  Her doctoral research involved interviewing immigrants and refugees and asking them to sing their favorite songs. Many people interviewed had left oppressive regimes which had destroyed their instruments and outlawed their traditional folk music in an effort to take away their cultural identity.  Her belief that music unites people and that it serves as a window into the soul of people from other cultures has led to the formation of a dynamic choral community.

The ICC, which includes children ages 6-17, is world renowned for singing in many languages and performing in authentic, colorful costumes from around the world.  They have represented the American continent in the opening ceremonies of the World Choir Olympics in Xiamen China, performed in Austria, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Norway, and Russia and have sung for the Dalai Lama, royalty, heads of state, and for hundreds of dignitaries and delegations from around the world.  The group has collaborated with the Utah Symphony, Utah Opera, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Fredericke von Stade, John Williams, and the King Singers, and  they have sung for video game and movie soundtracks.  “But of course, our choir members are from right here in Utah; from different backgrounds, races and religions. Everyone is welcome!”

Voices from the Heart-A 200-Voice Women’s Alternative Chorus in Pourtsmouth, New Hampshire

Founded in 1995 by Joanne Connolly, Voices from the Heart is a 200-voiced women’s alternative chorus located in Portsmouth, NH. The community of women from New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts come together to rehearse, perform and share the joy that comes from making music together.  In addition to their spring and fall concerts, they perform in small groups for special community events, and for memorial services honoring Voices members who have passed away.  “We knit comfort shawls for members going through challenging times, we raise money for charitable causes, we share news through our monthly newsletter and we get together for hikes, parties and community celebrations.  We talk, we laugh and we cry together in an environment of trust and friendship.”

Voices from the Heart has embarked on three international trips to carry their message of goodwill and celebration to Ireland, Croatia and Cuba with another trip to South Africa scheduled for July, 2018.  In advance of each trip, the group raises funds for a non-profit in the countries where they tour.  They are currently raising funds for MusicWorks in South Africa. 

Joanne Connolly was inspired to start Voices after attending a workshop with Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock. Connolly says, “It was amazing to do away with written music, and work together with other women to learn parts and create such soulful sounds! I wanted to recreate that experience in Portsmouth, NH. The response to the group has far exceeded my wildest dreams! These women and their singing have given me great joy!”  Her vision has grown to include Con Tutti World Music Chorus, a mixed group founded to sing and celebrate a range of seasonal multicultural music from many traditions.  The choir collaborates with various guest artists and the group, Drumamma, a drum ensemble founded nearly a decade ago that accompanies the chorus on nearly every concert. 

The Therapy Choirs of Michigan: It’s About More Than Just Singing!

Co-Director, Len McCulloch founded The Therapy Choirs of Michigan with the objective of aiding the rehabilitation of those in need through singing in a choir, what he has coined as "CHOIRTHERAPY.”  “I was working as a psychotherapist in a rehabilitation facility for people recovering from traumatic brain injuries when a unique patient came to our program.  The man had spent the previous eighteen years in State Hospital.  He was distinctive because we knew he could talk, but he wouldn't.  One day, someone told me they had heard him singing!  When I saw him next, I said ‘I know you don't like to talk but, can you sing?’  He belted out a beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace."  I’m not sure why, but my response was, ‘We have a choir now and you are it!’  He and I met in my office and communicated by singing simple songs back and forth.  After a while, he eventually began talking!  In the mean-time, other patients heard our singing, asked me about the choir, and joined." 

TCM’s goal is to create an exceptional group of vocalists, not necessarily in sound, but in spirit.  “We aim to provide a therapeutic experience to all who are involved with us, singers and volunteers alike.  All potential members need is a positive attitude and a willingness to have fun; no prior singing ability is required.  Through our "CHOIRTHERAPY", we aim to inspire ‘differently-abled’ people to enjoy all aspects of their life and to build their hope for the future.”  In addition, TCM continues to raise public awareness and educate the general population about the people who sing in their choirs.

TCM has three therapy choirs for people of all ages with developmental disabilities and various special needs.  They are developing concepts for The Developmentally Disabled Peoples Choir, The Seniors’ Therapy Choir, The Children’s Therapy Choir, and the Veterans’ Therapy Choir.  “We have shown, over the past decade, that choir therapy enhances self-esteem, alleviates depression, increases socialization, aides memory and related cognitive functions and is very enjoyable.”  The group has performed over 200 concerts in the last decade.

One Voice Chorus Demonstrating “Radical Inclusion” in Richmond, Virginia

Evanston Civic Chorus United Through Harmony-Evanston, Wyoming

Evanston, Wyoming, population 12,400, was founded during the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad.  The first train arrived in December 1868.  With an elevation of 6,800’, the city enjoys over 300 days of sunshine.  The mayor states on the town’s website, “I don’t think a day goes by that we don’t see an antelope or mule deer or maybe even both! Within the Bear River State Park we enjoy our own herd of buffalo and even a couple of bull elk!”

Since 2007, the Evanston Civic Chorus, a non-auditioned group, has been welcoming singers and enriching the community with their choral concerts.  It began as a community class offered by Uinta B.O.C.E.S #1 Education Center and then in 2012, the Evanston Civic Orchestra board voted to adopt the Civic Chorus, so membership was no longer by class enrollment.  “Though the details of how the Chorus functions have changed, and membership varies from year to year, the focus on community has remained constant since the beginning.  Singing together as a community unites us - Unison through Harmony.”

In addition to their two concerts a year, the chorus has performed at the Memorial Day Ceremony, the Fresh Air, Freedom and Fun Festival on July 4th, the Uinta County Museum Dedication, and the opening ceremony of the Tour of Utah bike race.  According to their website, “some of their most meaningful performances have been for audiences at the State Hospital and the Senior Center.”

Symphony Chorus of New Orleans Embodies the Resilient Spirit of the “Big Easy”-New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is known for many things including its architecture, cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and its distinct music tradition.  The “Big Easy” has remained resilient in the face of defying odds. A large portion of the city is situated at or below sea level after all!  Those organizations who thrive despite the odds are those who are able to adapt.  Symphony Chorus of New Orleans is one of those organizations.

Symphony Chorus (then, known as New Orleans Symphony Chorus) was founded in 1981 by Larry Wyatt under the auspices of the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra. When the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra ceased operations in 1991 and re-emerged as the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chorus reorganized as an entity separate from the orchestra and became known as Symphony Chorus of New Orleans.  While the group specializes in the performance of choral-orchestral works, the 60-member volunteer community chorus performs numerous concerts each year under the direction of Steven Edwards that include a variety of popular, R&B, and jazz-based New Orleans music.  The chorus has performed in Carnegie Hall twice, and in 2016 they travelled to Florence, Italy to perform with the Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina.

The stated mission of the chorus is “To make a difference in the lives of our singers, our audience, and our community through the power and beauty of choral singing.”  To that end, the group premieres new works, hosts choral workshops that are open to the community and collaborates with Singers of United Lands (SOUL) to provide educational outreach to numerous elementary, middle, and high school students.  The week-long residency has sent the SOUL Vocal Quartet to sing and do workshops in the Greater New Orleans Area’s public, private, and parochial schools, libraries, retirement communities, colleges, and universities. The week culminates in a festival concert featuring SOUL, SCNO, and area school and college choirs performing multi-cultural choral music that has included selections from 40 countries in 34 different languages over the last decade.

Lowcountry Voices Celebrate Rich Cultural Heritage of the African-American Choral Tradition-North Charleston, South Carolina

South Carolina’s coastal region, known as the Lowcountry, has a rich musical history that has been shaped by people who have inhabited the region, including the native Edisto, Sewee and Kiawah Indians, planters from Barbados, early French Huguenot settlers and of course West African and Caribbean slaves brought to work the rice, indigo and later, cotton, plantations that were the Carolinas' economic engine. Today the influences of Gullah culture, including remnants of a creole-based language and culinary and craft traditions, are a vital part of Lowcountry heritage.

In 2012, Nathan Nelson founded Lowcountry Voices, a multicultural and ethnically diverse choral performing arts organization based in North Charleston, SC, in an effort to give voice to those distinct traditions and to preserve the cultural legacy and authenticity of African-American music.  Its repertoire includes traditional and contemporary gospel music, spirituals, hymns, jazz, classical choral music, and music from the theater and movies.  The choir is based in North Charleston, but its members are drawn from across the entire Lowcountry region and beyond.  

LCV has cultivated partnerships with various choirs in the region, including the College of Charleston Gospel Choir and Claflin University Concert Choir, and has performed at the Inaugural Lincoln Center Global Exchange Evening Performance and with James Taylor in 2015.  The Lowcountry Voices provided music at the services for the Honorable Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the slain pastor of the Mother Emanuel AME tragedy, and provided the background singing behind President Obama’s rendition of Amazing Grace.  In July, 2015, LCV took the sounds of the Lowcountry internationally to Bermuda for two enthusiastically received performances. 

Community Chorus Project Creating Community One Chorus At A Time-Chapel Hill, North Carolina

In 2011 by Lauren Bromley Hodge founded the Community Chorus Project in collaborations with the Department of Music at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill“We seek to create positive social impact while creating diverse and inclusive music programming of the highest standard. Our credo is Creating Community One Chorus at a Time, and our goal is to plant lifelong seeds of creativity, fun and artistry in middle and high school age singers.”

CCP's programs, led by 17 staff members, include the Summer Glee Musical Theater Intensive for ages 11-16, Summer Recording Workshop for high school students ages 14-18, and Saturday Glee Club for ages 11-16.  Participants receive personalized vocal instruction and opportunities to perform ambitious arrangements of pop songs.  CCP also offers an adult PopUp Chorus, an ad hoc chorus for adults that invites all adults to show up and sing.

“Participating in a chorus is a community building activity that enables people to blend their voices with others, increase their confidence and work as a team. Music proves time and time again that it is able to cross cultural boundaries, bridge ethnic divides, and is truly the universal language. And it is fun!  The continued erosion of music in our schools, due to lack of funding and focus on the arts, creates a need for community-based music programs for students. We work to create opportunities for people to sing together, regardless of income, background or experience to create community and to revel in music.”

Des Moines Diversity Chorus Giving Voice to Common Hopes and Dreams of Those Living in Iowa’s Capital City-Des Moines, Iowa

The Des Moines Diversity Chorus celebrated their 20th anniversary of using choral music to gain a deeper appreciation for the people living in Iowa’s capital.  The music they sing reflects the diverse traditions and influences of Iowa's ethnic, social and cultural groups.  The group welcomes people of all backgrounds.  “We have reached a varied audience over the years with our message that we all share in common hopes and dreams, though we may experience them differently.”

DMDC has a strong commitment to cultivating partnerships with individual artists and ensembles that represent varied backgrounds.  The group has performed for local MLK, Jr. Memorial observances, Habitat for Humanity build dedications, City of Des Moines International Human Rights Day celebration, Earth Day celebrations, Interfaith Holocaust Memorial services and Iowa Cubs games.  Under the direction of Julie Murphy, the group has collaborated with the Heartland Youth Chorus, Nuer Drumming Group (Sudanese), Las Guitarras de Mexico, The Blue Grass Pals, Backyard Boyz, Whyld Girls, New Visions Dance Troupe, gospel choirs, photographers, composers, vocalists and numerous other artists.  Their unwavering commitment to using choral music to bring people together and to give voice to the variety of human experiences in their community is making the greater Des Moines area a stronger community one song at a time.

Appalachian Children’s Chorus Empowering West Virginia's Youth -Charleston, West Virginia

The Appalachian Children’s Chorus, located in West Virginia’s capital city of Charleston (pop. approx. 51,000), was founded in 1990 by Selina Midkiff with just 12 singers.  Today, they serve as the official Children’s Chorus of West Virginia, and, in that capacity, they have performed for governors, presidents and heads of state, and travelled to Carnegie Hall and on international tours to Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Ireland and England.  The choir’s mission is “to provide artistic excellence, a quality music education and extraordinary opportunities while creating a positive effect on the lives of West Virginia’s youth.”

The organization has grown to include six choirs of children in kindergarten through 12th grade that are located in three counties.  ACC welcomes children of all racial, cultural, religious and economic backgrounds and provides opportunities to offer a superior music education, to experience the world through music of other cultures, and to foster the personal and social growth of choir members.  The choir hosts the national Appalachian Festival of Young Voices, an annual celebration of folk music in mountain tradition. “The chorus's history is rich with tradition, replete with spirit and ably representative of all that is good about the State of West Virginia.”