Opening concert to examine homelessness and housing insecurity

Posted on Oct 2, 2017 by

Our first concert for the 40th anniversary season starts with a community-based series of events and live performances dealing with the issue of homelessness and housing insecurity. Each fall, we present a program of issue-based programming designed to raise awareness of relevant topics facing our community.

“We have found that music goes where nothing else can go–expressing issues through music touches the soul of a matter and explains the emotion through deeper storytelling,” said Jason Henderson, executive director of newVoices. “Our organizational mission is to strengthen our community through the unifying power of choral music and this program is a powerful expression of that goal.”

The choir will present a series of events coinciding with a live performance entitled “Home: Where is Your Heart?” on October 21 at the Lawrence University Memorial Chapel in Appleton. The concert is being presented in collaboration with the Fox Cities Housing Coalition, Homeless Connections and the Fox Valley Warming Shelter and will examine the issue of homelessness and housing insecurity from a variety of perspectives. In addition to the live performance, the collaboration includes:

  • Public forum at the Appleton Public Library on October 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm with representatives from partner organizations to discuss the issues surrounding homelessness and housing insecurity. Discussion will suround the challenges for the “hidden homeless” in the community.
  • Pre-concert discussion starting at 6:15pm prior to the October 21 concert featuring Joe Mauthe from the Fox Cities Housing Coalition to educate concertgoers on the extent and impact of homelessness and housing insecurity in our community and actions to address these issues.
  • StoryCatchers of Appleton will participate in the concert, sharing stories of those in the community coping with homelessness.

Joe Mauthe, executive director of the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities, has been involved in shaping the direction of the program. “We often end up explaining the issue of homelessness and housing insecurity through outcomes, numbers, statistics and trends,” Mauthe said, “but this program is sure to get to the real heart of the issue – the raw emotions of struggle and hope that come from losing a home and rebuilding a life – powerfully expressed through music and poetry.”

NewVoices Artistic Director Phillip Swan identified the issue of homelessness as one he wanted to express through choral programming. In selecting music, he divided the program into sections that focus on the areas of struggle facing those experiencing homelessness: the journey, the struggle, a section on how home is defined, and the hope for a better future.

“Any concert we’re involved in has to make an impact,” Swan said. “I want our audience to be moved. To be able to share an idea together and have music impact all of us is the most exciting thing I can do in my lifetime.”Of special note, the concert features many recent compositions from living choral composers as well as more familiar settings such as “Wayfaring Stranger” and “The Storm is Passing Over.” “The music is varied and is a true mix of more recognizable settings with some powerful new compositions,” Swan added.

In 2016, the choir received a national award for education and community engagement presented by Chorus America. The award recognized programs that expand a chorus’ role in its community through mission-based programming, music education, artistic excellence and meaningful collaborations.

The fall concert welcomes top young singers in the High School Master Singers program. Each year, regional choir directors nominate top choral students to practice and perform with the adults in newVoices. This year, 22 students from nine high schools are joining the concert. “It’s an opportunity for these young singers to learn that choral music is something they can do throughout their lives,” said Dan Van Sickle, newVoices assistant conductor and choir director at Appleton East High School. “These kids are usually the most dedicated singers in their high school choirs, but this is an environment where all 100 singers share a high level of passion and they learn from the adult singers and a collegiate level conductor,” he said.

This season is the beginning of newVoices 40th anniversary season and the full season is presented by Community First Credit Union.

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