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Be the Harmony You Want to See in the World by Mary Gowing
2016.08.19 19:13:28

Be the Harmony You Want to See in the World

Okay, I totally stole that, with a little modification, from Gandhi. He said be the change you want to see in the world. As the president of the Atlanta-area community chorus, The DeKalb Choral Guild, I have a tendency to think in musical terms. And with auditions for our group taking place this week and next harmony has been on my mind. The more I think about it the more I believe that there might be something to being the harmony as well as being the change in the world. Harmony, musically in a chorus, is a when different people sing different notes/pitches and yet when sung together they sound pleasing and like they are meant to be together. In life and culture we often use the term harmony as a metaphor for getting along well in social relationships and we often strive for this. I propose that by singing in a chorus in musical harmony the chorus and the individuals in it can also create more social harmony in the world. How, you ask? Because people who sing in choruses have the expectation and experience that both musical harmony and social harmony are possible, (at least within the chorus). This is because we learn this by our participation in a chorus. And this is because even musical harmony doesn’t happen without a lot of coordinated effort and a shared vision for a desired result. We come together as a chorus at the beginning of a season, many of us strangers, as new people join the group. We have to learn to know and trust one another as we learn the music in order to sing together as a single voice instead of many individual voices. We also know what else it takes to create harmony and the musical analogy transfers well into the social realm. It takes dedication, it takes work, it takes understanding the voices around you, it takes having good leadership, it takes understanding the leadership and speaking out when needed, it takes being willing to become part of a whole at the same time as being an individual voice, it takes trust and caring and even compassion. When we do all this successfully as in the DeKalb Choral Guild we then have a hope that it can happen at home, at work, in our cities, states, country and the world. So I invite everyone who enjoys singing to consider joining a chorus, civic or religious, and becoming the harmony to hope to see in the world! The DeKalb Choral Guild is holding auditions for all voice parts Monday August 22nd. Call to schedule your audition at 678-318-1362 and for more information go to: www.dekalbchoralguild.org

MAryGSF

Mary Gowing, DeKalb Choral Guild, president



Tags: chorus audition | singing | a capella | community choir | choir | Atlanta chorus | Decatur Chorus | classical

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Hope, Peace, Joy and Love--a Holiday message from DCG president Mary Gowing
2015.12.15 23:23:25

Okay, take at least 3 big deep breaths. This season of time between Thanksgiving and New Year can get a bit hectic and crazy. So first off, take some big breaths.  Really, while you are reading this, start your deep breathing. You'll feel more relaxed just by letting in more air. It's something we in the choral biz know, and partly why singing feels so good. Are you still doing your breathing? Good, keep going while I wish you 4 things:


The first thing I wish you is Hope. I wish you the kind of Hope that sings in the midst of war and conflict as expressed in the song Prayer of the Children by Kurt Bestor which we sang last January in our Et in Terra Pax concert.You can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/mary-gowing-1/prayerofthechildrendcg/s-Wswv6. Whether that confict is international in scope,  in your community, in your family or in your own spirit I wish you the Hope that knows that there will be a better day.


Still taking those relaxing breaths? Good. The second wish I have for you is Peace. The kind of peace that a mother wishes and bestows on her chiild while holding her in her arms and singing her a lullaby. This wish for peace is expressed well by Iraqi Peace Song by Lori Tennenhouse which the DCG women and I sang in 2010. https://soundcloud.com/mary-gowing-1/iraqi-peace-song/s-Svffu. I wish you the kind of peace in that lullaby: of knowing you are loved and knowing you have a place in the world. Just deep breathing can help initiate a peaceful feeling. Try it when you aren't reading blogs and emails, perhaps in the maestrom of holiday chaos. 


Thirdly, I wish you Joy. The kind of joy I feel when singing with the DCG. I wish for you to be able to follow what you are passionate about and to be able to share your interests with others and inspire them to pursue their own Joy. I wish you the Joy that comes from being in the zone of relaxed focus while occupied in a meaningful endeavor. An example of this joy for me is singing Mozart's Missa Brevis with my favorite chorus, in particular the Gloria section. https://soundcloud.com/mary-gowing-1/missa-brevis-gloria. What joyful music that is. I wish you that!


Lastly, I wish you Love. Not so much the romantic kind, though if that is what you are interested in I wish you that too. I wish the kind that is within you and that is compassionate and patient and seeks the kindest way.I wish you a loving heart that is curious and open to other people, no matter how different, difficult or unlovable they are presently. I wish you a love that grows and radiates to others. I wish you a love that is action oriented because you feel kinship with the universe,  as in the song We Are that the DCG sang at Sure Stars Shining concert in 2014:https://soundcloud.com/mary-gowing-1/we-are-1/s-ic2uJ.


I wish you and the whole world Hope, Peace, Joy and Love this holiday. And I wish for you the relaxation that comes from lots a deep breaths whether while singing, meditating, or while not blowing up at Aunt Edna for whatever she just did that managed to push just the right buttons but somehow you did some deep breaths and the urge to garrote her passed.


Happy Holidays!

Mary Gowing

DeKalb Choral Guild, president





Tags: Avondale chorus | Decatur Community Chorus | Atlanta chorus | Joy | Love | Peace | Hope | Holiday | DCG

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Muse Sings by Mary E. Root, Music Director, DeKalb Choral Guild
2015.08.13 15:14:05

Muse Sings

Mary E. Root, Music Director, DeKalb Choral Guild

 

Joining a Chorus is Worth It

 

'Tis the season of community chorus auditions! Each year, as summer wanes, community choruses begin gearing up for rehearsal and performance season. Audition notices go out, and, thus, begins the scramble and competition for good, dedicated singers. I direct an auditioned community chorus, and I find that I do not want to harass and cajole singers to consider our chorus; I want singers to be drawn to our chorus because this is a good chorus that prepares and sings excellent and interesting repertoire and because of our mission to be a compassionate chorus.

Singing in our chorus, the DeKalb Choral Guild, chorus requires significant commitment: repertoire must be studied outside rehearsal; there are membership dues and required performance attire; weekly rehearsal attendance is required; members are often asked to assist with duties beyond singing and with fundraising. And then, there is the audition required of all new prospective singers. Some singers view the audition as a badge, a rite of passage. Singers will often describe the "war wounds" of auditioning. I've blogged about my thoughts on the process of auditioning (see http://www.dekalbchoralguild.org/blog/viewpost/296.html), so I will summarize by saying that I can learn all I need to know about a prospective singer from a well-prepared solo and a conversation. I refer to the DCG audition as "the kinder, gentler, compassionate audition."

To save everyone some time, I am forthright about the music we sing: this is not choral arrangements of pop tunes – we sing serious, relevant choral music that spans from ancient to contemporary. I try to choose music that is accessible to audiences and worthy of their listening. As a chorus we focus on beautiful, deliberate choral sound, and solid vocal technique. We also focus on meaningful interpretation.

I recently rediscovered a quote from musician Brian Eno; I share it with you now for your consideration because I think it speaks so well to what the DeKalb Choral Guild aspires:

"When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a cappella [sic] singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That's one of the great feelings — to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue."

So, if you are reading this, and you are a singer thinking of joining a community chorus in the Atlanta area, I hope you will consider our chorus, the DeKalb Choral Guild. I will be honored to hear you sing and discuss membership with you. To schedule your audition, please leave a message at 678-318-1362. Our audition coordinator will call you back in quick fashion. Come, be a part of our singing community!

 



Tags: DCG | Mary Root | Decatur Chorus | chorus | community chorus | choir | joining a singing group | auditions | DeKalb Choral Guild | Atlanta chorus

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On Being a Compassionate Chorus By Mary Gowing, DeKalb Choral Guild, president
2015.07.15 20:48:06

Last year the DeKalb Choral Guild signed the Charter for Compassion and became one of the first of that organizatoin's many arts partners. The Charter itself is a beautifully written document laying out a committment to respecting all people. Ever since signing the Charter, we as an organization, have been ruminating on how we can run our organization with more compassion. At our annual meeting in May, Robert Johnson, from Compassionate Atlanta, came to us and facilitated a dynamic discussion about this. At our recent DCG board meeting we continued asking how we can be more compassionate: in board meeting, in rehearsals, in our relationships, in our programming, in our concerts... I, as DCG president, opened the meeting with a statement that I wrote about how I hope we can operate our organizational business in a compassionate way. The following is what I presented to the board.

 

Being the Compassionate Chorus

In planning, dreaming, discussing the business of the DCG; in rehearsing, studying and singing music of the DCG, in taking tickets, performing and welcoming guests to the DCG; in giving of ourselves in myriad ways to the DCG let us always be mindful that it takes intention to have and express compassion for one another, our community and the world.

 

To be the compassionate chorus, we need to continue to create and maintain a culture of mutual respect and trust. To do this we need to be free to express ourselves without fear of punishment and repudiation; we need the space to experiment, to try, to fail and to try again; and we all need to be valued for the unique people we are and for our contributions we bring to the DCG.

 

I hope that in all aspects of our DCG dealings we can continue to nurture this compassionate culture and when anyone of us fails, as we, being human, will do, that we respond with understanding, knowing that we, each of us, have our own failings and shortcomings, and that we can accept our imperfection while still moving forward with a continued sense of shared purpose. MG

 

Atlanta has signed the charter and so has Decatur. Avondale hasn't yet. Is it making a difference? It has to the DeKalb Choral Guild.

 

This August the DCG is holding auditions for all voice parts: Seeking Compassionate Singers to share in excellent and  innovative musical experiences that enrich our community and ourselves. Call for an audition appointment. 678-318-1362. Auditions will be held on Mondays Aug 17th and 24th.

 

 

Charter for Compassion:

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect. 

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.


If you would like to officail sign the charter as an individual or as an organization click here

 



Tags: Decatur singing auditions | Decatur Chorus | atlanta community chorus | Atlanta chorus | DeKalb Choral Guild | Chorus auditions | charter for compassion

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