Augustana College Choir to perform concert

News | February 29, 2016

The Augustana College choir will return from a California tour to perform a home concert at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 11, at St. Paul. Admission is free; a freewill offering will be accepted.

Forty-eight students will perform choral works ranging from traditional spirituals to chants and powerful contemporary works – all serving a purpose in telling the story and process of social justice.

For centuries, music has told the story of struggle, progress and unity. This performance program will highlight the process of awareness of social justice issues – leading to discussions, and finally to taking action.

Beginning with “To the Mothers of Brazil: Salve Regina” by Marian Antiphon, the issues are introduced. This piece specifically brings awareness to the struggles women face in Brazilian culture.

The next piece in the program, “How Can I Cry?” by California native Moira Smiley, takes an introspective look at how people can get behind the issues and inspire change.

Then, for the call to action, “Prayer of St. Francis” by Barrie Cabena ignites a movement from turning the negativity in the world into positive action, encouraging humanity to think about what we, in our various fields and disciplines, can do to bring justice to the oppressed.

One of the distinctions of the Augustana Choir is their inventive use of improvisation. Jon Hurty – Gassman professor of music, co-chair of Augustana’s Department of Music, director of St. Paul’s Chorale, and California native – sees improvisation as a learning mechanism to encourage synergy.

“Improvisation helps the students to think about choral music from a different perspective—one that encourages personal engagement and creativity,” he said. “It develops their listening skills, creative skills, sense of community and confidence as singers.”

With this particular program, the improvisations represent the conversations happening throughout the world—listening to cries of the oppressed but also reacting with plans, goals and suggestions to make progress.

Senior Ruchira Laroia of Coralville, Iowa, explained, “Singing songs of injustice is not only a way to remember those who are less privileged than us, but to spur us to action to create a better future.”

She continued, “Singing, or even listening to powerful music, brings out people’s inner strength. It moves ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things.”


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