Friday, March 14, 2008

We've Begun

Song of Peace has officially begun!

I wanted to write this closer to the beginning of the month, but things do not always go as planned. Nonetheless, here are some reports of Song of Peace events that have taken place thus far. All comments are excerpted, and are from participants unless otherwise mentioned:

Hope for Peace & Justice, March 1, Dallas, Texas

The Dallas Voice described the March 1 event as "an inspirational call for peace":

The audience packed the Meyerson Symphony Center to celebrate the living legend at the first annual Voices of Peace Award ceremony. The award was bestowed by Hope for Peace & Justice, a human rights and peace activist committee.

The afternoon program started with a bonanza of musical performances, video montages and speeches. The Meyerson stage was overflowing with a staggering number singers and symphonic musicians: members of the Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, The Cathedral of Hope Sanctuary Choir, The Vocal Majority, Oak Lawn United Methodist Church and New Texas Symphony Orchestra. And then director Tim Seelig welcomed another group, the First Baptist Church male chorus that spiced up the prevailing solemn flavor with a boogie-worthy version of “Down By the Riverside.”

But 10-year-old dynamo Dalton Sherman winner of a Martin Luther King Jr oratory contest practically stole the show with his spirited analysis of MLK’s sermon “The Drum Major Instinct.”

And then, with the help of a wooden cane, Angelou made her entrance. Her hour-long talk was inspired by a lyric: “When it look like the sun ain’t shining no more, you become my rainbow.” And like the master wordsmith she is, Angelou spun the stanza into gold.

While we enter the fifth year of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the sky looks dreadfully cloudy, but the Meyerson was filled with rainbows of hope.

A participant in the Hope for Peace and Justice event sent these comments:

"We are all very excited to be part of this world wide project, as well as being gratified that we as everyday folks can do something tangible for peace and an end to violence."

Nannup Music Festival, March 1 & 2, Nannup, Western Australia

"What a wonderful idea! Both of our workshops went well with lots of new people learning Dona Nobis Pacem for the first time."

First Parish in Lexington, March 2, Lexington, Massachussets

This article appeared in the local paper on February 27:

On March 2, First Parish in Lexington, Unitarian Universalist, will take part in the international Song of Peace project with a worship service entitled “Creating Peace." During the 10:30 a.m. service, artists from the First Parish congregation will speak, including assistant minister Rev. Laura Cavicchio and music director Dr. Suzanne Jubenville. The service will explore the ways in which the creative arts can be used to build a better world. The First Parish Adult Choir will sing Neil Ginsberg’s “Bells Ring for Peace,” which concludes with a prayer for peace in eight languages. After the service, the First Parish congregation will exit the church singing “Dona Nobis Pacem” as a public statement of their commitment to creating peace.

Sanctuary Concert Series, March 2, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

"We had a wonderful concert here in Pittsburgh on March 2. Our total attendance was about 250 people and everyone I talked to after the concert was so impressed and moved by the experience. We think this was the best of any of the now over 50 concerts we have produced, and it made a statement that went beyond music. We want to thank you for inspiring us to do the best job that we could do."

World Children's Choir, March 8, Arlington, Virginia

"We had videographers at the concert on Saturday night - students from the Arlington Career Center came. They will make a DVD of the performance that will include close-ups, etc. One of our singer's parents has a viral marketing business, and he is going to put the concert performance of Sing for Peace video clip on You Tube. Thank you and everyone who worked to establish this movement. I'm sure we will have many, many more singers next March."

Song of Peace, March 8, Albany, Western Australia

"We had a joyful celebration yesterday afternoon - the church was filled to capacity with just over 200 of us gathered there. I had done a radio interview earlier in the week, and following that I received phone calls from folks 100 km north and west of Albany who then travelled in to be with us. As people arrived in the afternoon, several said how much they were looking forward to the community singing a the end. We sang "By the Waters of Babylon", conducted by Teresa as a round including all two hundred of us, plus Amazing Grace, Morning Has Broken and Lord of all Hopefulness which is based on an Irish melody and reminded us to think of that country with thankfulness. Many people wanted to pay as they came in but instead we encouraged them to make an offering to the Red Cross International as they left - there was A$430.00 in the bowl! I was delighted at school today to hear from many others how much they appreciated the celebration on Saturday. Several people said afterwards that they were looking forward to 2009 but warned that we may need a bigger venue!"

Vocal Studio Performance Class, March 8, Los Altos, California

"In order to participate in this project, a group of singers sang the Latin traditional round of Dona Nobis Pacem at my voice class today. It was very nice as our accompanist for the class Paul Rosas played piano for part of the 3-4 times we sang the round, and then dropped out and joined us singing. What an amazing project... I hope
hoping more people can incorporate some form of participation into their lives, formally or informally."

Choral Arts of Chattanooga & Lee University Chorale, March 13, Chattanooga, Tennessee

An article from the Chattanooga Pulse on March 12 promoting the March 13 concert:

On Thursday, March 13, Chattanooga joins the global link [Song of Peace] as Choral Arts of Chattanooga and the Lee University Chorale present the local premiere of “Dona Nobis Pacem,” Vaughan Williams’ powerful cantata for soprano and baritone soli, chorus and orchestra, set to words by Walt Whitman, Wilfred Owen and the Bible. Song of Peace concerts are taking place worldwide during March, and on the 13th, 14th and 15th alone, performances are scheduled from England to Israel to Australia, and in the U.S., from Maryland to California.

“Dona Nobis Pacem had been on my mind for some time, without knowing that this initiative was going on,” said Dr. William Green, CAC director. “It is very moving for me personally, and I had a passion to present it to our community.

“Vaughan Williams was a medic during World War I, and Walt Whitman was a medic during the Civil War. These were men who had lived through war. But I feel the appeal to peace is also about things like the recent school shootings—that we can solve problems without violence, that our ultimate goal is peace.”

Dr. Green read an e-mail from the organizers of the Song of Peace Project, he said, “and it was as though many minds were being pulled together by the magnet of the same idea.”

More stories, pictures, and audio clips will be
posted on the Song of Peace website soon.

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