The annual fall concert is part of the choir’s commitment to presenting community engagement programming on a topical issue that affects the region. Past issues have dealt with topics such as sex trafficking, suicide, and homelessness. The goal of the programming is not to reach conclusions, but to have a respectful discussion of all sides of the issue, then frame the emotions within powerful, choral music.
Almost 42% of Americans live in a household with at least one, this access is assured by the U.S. Bill of Rights, and deaths from them are on the rise since 2017. The topic is gun violenceand newVoices choir will again explore a social issue through a combination of a musical performance and community events.
“One issue we face as as society is we create silos and people tend to stay in their own circles, but many of these issues require us to have a respectful discussion,” said Dr. Phillip Swan, artistic director for newVoices.
“We need to have a dialog–our goal is not to reach a conclusion, but to start a discussion.”
To do so, newVoices plans a series of free public forums prior to the fall performance. Experts from law enforcement, the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE) and others will join in two forums:
- Oct. 10, 7 pm featuring Nancy Jones from the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE)
- Oct. 15, 7 pm featuring expert panel discussion with representatives from the Appleton Police Department, WAVE and others.
- Both sessions will be held at the Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2600 E. Philip Lane, Appleton and are open to the public.
In programming the concert, Swan selected recent compositions, all of which were created in response to gun violence and recent mass shootings.
- Joshua Clausen’s “Requiem” was composed for the victims of American mass shootings, their families and friends and debuted in March 2018. He was inspired by a report on public radio that assigned a pitched tone to recent shootings—the louder the note, the more people were killed that day. The powerful, reflective piece will be performed live with a sound track of the data sonification present throughout.
- The choir will premiere a mixed-voice setting of Appleton native David Fisher’s “26.” Fisher, who is a Lawrence University graduate, was inspired by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings—the title of the composition refers to the lives lost in that incident. His composition premiered in May 2019 and was performed by Lawrence University’s Cantala women’s chorus.
- Daniel Elder’s composition “Absalom” was written in response to the presence of both violence and reconciliation in society today and had its premiere in May of 2019.
The concert will conclude with music reflecting on the topics of help, hope, and peace—most notably with a hopeful composition entitled “Light, Beauty, Peace.” “We can have disagreements about issues, but the only solution is to find light and peace through the love we have for each other,” Swan said.