Celebrating the Global Nelson Mandela
Centenary Musical Tribute
July 18 @ noon in Central Square, Keene
(Keene NH) It’s the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela on July 18 and the world has been invited to raise its voice in celebration and recognition of his legacy. The singers of the Grand Monadnock Youth Choirs (GMYC) in grades 2-12 are compelled to bring an international celebration to Keene, honoring “A global icon with a lifetime of achievements (who) deserves to have a 100th birthday celebration.”
The event is a 100 Year celebration of Mr. Mandel via the Long Walk to Freedom Brand, which includes a vision to use musical tribute events, delivered live in multiple cities on his birthday and beyond, July 18, with the aim of supporting The Mandela long Walk to Freedom Schools Library project. Mandela himself inspired the music festival in one of his many recognized quotes; “It's music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world.”
When GMYC Artistic Director, Esther Rhoades, became aware of the opportunity she immediately reached out to event organizers in South Africa. “Participating in this event is both very moving for me, and also provides an opportunity for GMYC to grow our global ambassadorship. GMYC’s Cecilia Ensemble has traveled to Europe ten times in the last 20 years to perform and collaborate with choirs from many different countries. In April, Cecilia traveled to the Czech Republic and performed a song written by a musician while in the Terezin concentration camp. Singing brings people together, no matter where you live or what language you speak.”
Rhoades believes in the importance of Mandela’s mission to address poverty and literacy among children. “Numerous studies demonstrate that singing improves memory, cognition, reading ability and self-motivation. Young singers learn how to work together as part of a group and develop self-confidence while also finding their voice. They actually learn music as though it was a language and we use the term “music literacy” to describe reading, writing, composition and improvisation, just like any other language. Each year, GMYC engages over 125 students in the Monadnock Region with the opportunity to grow and learn through music. These children grow up to become involved citizens, creating a better world.”
Mandela philanthropic will is well established in his post-presidential office with a focus of “liberating children from poverty through improved literacy,” Since 2011, the Mandela Literacy Project has provided more than 100,000 South African children daily access to reading materials through containerized libraries with an additional 100 000 having access to reading clubs and books.
The event begins at Noon in Central Square, with a rain location of the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church, 69 Washington Street, Keene. Rhoades will lead GMYC singers in songs of freedom and peace and welcome special guests, including Dottie Morse, Chief Officer for Diversity and Multiculturalism, Keene State College, and Mayor Kendall Lane who will issue a proclamation declaring July 18, 2018 as Music is Literacy Day to honor the life of humanitarian, visionary and peacemaker, Nelson Mandela. Thinking of Keene as a place that welcomes global collaborations is nothing new. Since 2002, Keene has been a Sister City with Einbeck, Germany, about 50 miles south of Hanover, exchanging official delegations, youth soccer programs and choirs over the years. The vocational school exchange began in 2015.
GMYC’s commitment to young singers has been a driving force of the nonprofit since 1998. Rhoades quotes Mandela to say, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” and goes on to reflect that, “Today, more than ever, our youth need to be educated, respected, supported and loved by the adults in their lives. As American citizens, we must set an example of right relationship with one another. By celebrating Nelson Mandela’s birthday in southwestern New Hampshire, we join with millions of others across the globe who hold the same ideals and dreams for all our children.”
There will be an opportunity for people to share their thoughts, enjoy a piece of birthday cake, and participate in an open drumming circle which starts at 11:45 (bring a drum). Attendees are welcome to provide birthday cards and personal messages in honor of Nelson Mandela. For those who are unable to attend, you are encouraged to upload your birthday message to the Nelson Mandela Day Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nelsonmandela so that the Monadnock Region is represented in this global tribute.
Donations to support the work of 100 Year celebration of the Long Walk to Freedom and The Schools Library projectcan be made online at http://www.participateforgood.com/projects/grand-monadnock-youth-choir-mandela-celebration For more information, contact Esther Rhoades, firstname.lastname@example.org or Susan MacNeil, email@example.com.
- Worldwide and specifically in South Africa, the statistics speak to the critical need for this initiative.
- Only 32% of the children in a grade 5 level are literate (do not have basic literacy and numeracy skills)
- Almost 62% of primary school-aged children do not complete school due to lack of literacy skills
- If all global children in low income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171m people could be lifted out of poverty.
- 90% of schools in South Africa do not have libraries