Next concert makes sweet music out of politics

Posted on Oct 12, 2016 by

newVoices presents program on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness


This year’s national elections may be remembered for some of the most hate-filled, divisive rhetoric in modern politics. That rancor prompted newVoices to focus programming on a more elevated, substantial political discourse in their concert “Voice your Vote: the power of one.” The concert will present music that underscores Americans’ opportunity to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Organizers were prompted to focus on music that reflects pride in America and participation in the electoral process after learning that many young people feel their vote just doesn’t matter. “Our educators shared that young people were turned off by the partisan nature of politics, so we wanted to present a program that reconnects people with American values of freedom and liberty,” said Kristopher Ulrich, executive director of newVoices.

As part of the programming, the choir collaborated with the League of Women Voters to help in National Voter Registration Day on September 27. Volunteers worked with citizens at schools and a regional dental clinic where new citizens took the opportunity to register. “It made an impact on me to see new Americans excited to give their opinion in a meaningful way,” Ulrich said. “They were thrilled to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

The season opener concert is also the time when high school singers join the chorus. More than 35 students are members of the High School Master Singers program made up top choral singers from 12 area high schools from Clintonville to Green Bay to Oshkosh. Teen-aged singers rehearse alongside the adult singers and learn that choral singing is a life-long pursuit. Concert organizers wanted to reach these future voters with the important message of participating in the electoral process.

Representatives from the League of Women Voters will present a pre-concert talk on Wisconsin’s role in voter rights and how each vote is critical, especially in congressional, legislative and local races.

According to the League, typical voter participation in Wisconsin is only about half of eligible voters. “Our goal is to inform, educate, and register all citizens so they can exercise their right to vote,” said Jacqui Klimaszewski, vice president of voter services, League of Women Voters of Appleton. “One vote may not seem important in a national election, but it is critical in local elections which are races that truly have an impact on our daily lives.”

What’s on the concert program?

On the concert program: selections of patriotic music from revolutionary times to modern interpretations of favorite songs. Audience members will hear settings of “America the Beautiful,” “This is My Country,” “Bless this House,” and new settings of traditional patriotic songs. Familiar folk songs like “Shenandoah,” “Oh Susanna,” “This Land is Your Land,” and others will be presented.

A special selection on the program is “Frostiana,” a marriage of poetry and music that is a distinctly American choral classic. Music by composer Randall Thompson is set to Robert Frost’s poetry that expresses domestic themes of American life in melodic settings. Many consider Frost the greatest American poet who ever lived and his poem “The Road not Taken” may be one of his best known. This, and six other songs alternate between lofty expressions of freedom and more playful snapshots of daily life.

“In these selections, the composer enriched the meaning of Frost’s iconic poetry with layers of distinctive music to create a sound that is purely American,” said Dr. Phillip Swan, artistic director for newVoices. “The genius of the music is the manner in which it mirrors the poetry.”

Songs for this concert were specifically selected for their interplay of words and music. “Some of the pieces take their text from the Declaration of Independence or memorable speeches,” Swan said. “The words reflect our shared experience as Americans by birth or by choice and all reflect a deep pride in freedom and our national heritage.”

Community First

This concert is supported by our season sponsor, Community First Credit Union.

Perhaps no patriotic song stirs such emotion as the “Star Spangled Banner,” also on the program. Pop singers have twisted the melody, forgotten lyrics, and proclaimed it “unsingable,” so newVoices will present a traditional setting of the national anthem. “The song is beautiful,” Swan said. “The words and melody represent our nation’s most enduring symbol and the ideals of freedom and liberty that it represents.”

The concert “Voice Your Vote: the power of one” will be Saturday, October 22 at 7:30 pm at the Lawrence University Memorial Chapel and is sponsored by Community First Credit Union and Schenck. Tickets may be purchased online at this link.


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