Tag: Decatur Chorus

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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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Choral Reflections on Dia de los Muertos by Mary Gowing, DCG president
2015.10.22 22:30:17

Reflections on how a choral concert (such as the DeKalb Choral Guild's Día de los Muertos Concert Sat. November 7th in Avondale) can change you: by DCG president Mary Gowing

 

Have you ever been a tourist somewhere and could see the culture around you but you didn't feel a part of it? It can seem almost like you are watching a film or a documentary but not really experiencing it. The DCG singers felt a bit like that when we began our preparations for our Día de los Muertos concert (Nov 7th). Most of us are not from a Mexican background. But the stories in the music of weeping women, witches and ancient wisdom, of cemeteries, churches and chocolate, along with the task of building the visual displays of flowers, framed photographs of loved ones passed and other touchstones of memory helped the singers begin to make the leap from outsider looking in at Dia de los Muertos to novice participants of it.

 

Here are three key ingredients we found in getting ready for that leap:

1. To hear a variety of stories from the culture, or points of views as told by different people from that culture

2. To feel safe as you are hearing the stories. If you feel threatened you will not be open to hear and absorb these challenging potential shifts of paradigm

3. A chance to reflect on what you have learned and to share with others what new understandings have arisen in you.

 

We will perform this concert at First Baptist Church of Avondale Estates on November 7th at 7:30pm. The songs will tell many different Mexican stories: like that of the nomad traveler in Pasar La Vida, and that of the Mournful Mother in Stabat Mater, yet all centering on the Mexican festival of the Day of the Dead, Día de los Muertos. We will contemplate how our loved ones remain with us always, of how past, present and future can live together. The concert may challenge stereotypes people have about Mexico, its music, people and traditions. We will end the evening with a joyous reception complete with Mariachi band, where audience and performers alike will come together to enjoy delicious traditional Pan (bread) de Muertos and sugar skull candy, among other treats, and to reflect upon and celebrate the concert together.

The DeKalb Choral Guild's Día de los Muertos concert is open to the public. Tickets are $5 for adults, children 12 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at www.dekalbchoralguild.org.



Tags: Dia de los Muertos | Decatur Chorus | Atlanta choral concert | Mariachi concert | Day of the dead concert | La Bruja | La Llorona

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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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