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
(Keene, NH) The audition schedule has been set for the 2018-19 season of the Grand Monadnock Youth Choirs, under the direction of Artistic Director, Esther Rhoades. Youth in grades 2-8 may try out for the Keene and Peterborough choruses, and girls in grades 9-12 for the Cecilia Ensemble. The music theme for this season is theatrical and stage performance.
Keene auditions will be held in the parish hall of St. James Church, 44 West Street, on Tuesday, May 29 and June 5 from 3:00-7:00pm. Peterborough auditions will be held in the parish hall of the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church (PUUC), 25 Main Street, on Wednesday, May 30 and June 6 from 3:00-7:00pm. Arrive 15 minutes prior to scheduled audition to complete registration paperwork and receive your free t-shirt!
Upon the retirement of Maria Belva this year, the Cecilia Ensemble will also now be directed by Rhoades. Cecilia auditions will be held in the PUUC on Monday, June 11 from 5:00-6:30pm.
To schedule an individual 15-minute audition, or a “buddy” audition with a friend lasting 30 minutes, contact Rhoades by May 23 at 603-499-3505 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also schedule an audition online at www.GrandMonadnockYouthChoirs.org.
GMYC tuition for the 2018-2019 season is $200 per semester, or $400 total. Tuition assistance is available through the application process. Rehearsals begin in September and occur weekly in preparation for the Winter 2018 and Spring 2019 concerts.
The Chamber Singers of Keene (CSK) and the Grand Monadnock Youth Choirs (GMYC) are
proud to present an extraordinary community choral event on the 55th anniversary of The
Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Alabama. On Friday, April 27 at 7pm, the two Keene choirs of GMYC, Elm City Singers and Keene Youth Choir, will join their adult counterparts to present The Children’s March, a powerful musical depiction of civil rights activism. The concert will be held in the United Church of Christ, located at the head of the Square in downtown Keene, New Hampshire, and marks the first collaboration between GMYC and CSK. The evening holds special significance for the Chamber Singers. The group will host composer, Andrew Bleckner in the New England premiere of his work, featuring gospel, blues and dramatic themes representing the historic music sung by 4000 African American children as they were defiantly arrested to protest the inequality of the Jim Crow laws of the Deep South.
The performance is narrated by Dottie Morris, Vice-President of Diversity at Keene State
College; conducted jointly by Matthew Leese, CSK and Esther Rhoades, GMYC; and joined by Walt Sayre, pianist and Michael Day, percussionist.
This is also the farewell concert for CSK musical director, Matthew Leese, who took the helm at CSK in 2014. Leese finds synchronicity in this work within the context of national events.
"When I found this piece and started planning with Esther, I had no idea this would be my final concert with Chamber Singers, but somehow this feels like a very fitting way to leave the baton for the incoming director. Working on this stirring piece this year has been uncanny in its timing with current politics and with me gaining US Citizenship."
The Children’s March, composed in 2013 by Bleckner with libretto by Charlotte Blake Alston, is a compelling work that combines original text with words from legal documents, infused with stirring spirituals. This important piece is a new, major American composition that tells the story of a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement; a historic action that called upon children to protest the inequality of segregation. The song list includes “There is a Balm in Gilead,” “Lift Every Voice,” “Run, Mary, Run!,” “Woke Up This Mornin’ With Freedom on My Mind.”
In the first week of May 1963, thousands of children demonstrated in the streets of Birmingham Alabama, protesting the city’s notorious practices of racial inequality. The events in Birmingham were not the beginning nor the end of racial discrimination in the United States, but they signified an important crossroads – one where the youth of the city proved they had a powerful voice to enact change, and where the politicians and law enforcement officials proved they would do anything to silence that voice. Met with a violent response as the whole world watched, the courage of these children, some as young as 4 years old, culminated in pivotal civil rights legislation proposed by President John F. Kennedy, making segregation illegal.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was harshly criticized in 1963 for allowing children to be the catalyst for change. However, the children saw themselves as the creators of their own freedom. Those brave children said, “This is our future and we want to help shape it.”
The performance on April 27 serves an important call to action for youth and adults alike, an inspirational moment that will live on in the hearts of everyone who attends. As a gift to the community, and acknowledging the significant cultural contributions of Leese, tickets will not be sold and admission is by donation only. The inspiring concert will last approximately 75 minutes. Doors open at 6:30pm with unreserved seating.
For more information about CSK, call Matthew Leese at 603.465.8602 or visit www.chambersingerskeene.org
For more information about GMYC, call Esther Rhoades at 603.499.3505 or visit www.grandmonadnockyouthchoirs.org
Andrew Bleckner: http://www.andrewbleckner.com
Charlotte Blake Alston: http://www.charlotteblakealston.com
The Children’s Crusade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT-QkNkMZjk
Cecilia Ensemble Czech Send-Off Concert, “There is Peace,” April 15 in Dublin NH (Peterborough, NH) The Grand Monadnock Youth Choirs (GMYC) began in 1997 as the Peterborough Children’s Choir, founded by Maria Belva and David Vernier. The high school-age
choir, known as the Cecilia Ensemble, has traveled abroad with Belva every two years since 2003. In 2018, the ensemble will travel on their 8 th European Tour. Previously, Belva took the group to Northern Italy in 2003; Germany and the Czech Republic in 2005; Spain in 2007, Sicily in 2010; Austria and Hungary in 2012; southern Italy in 2014; and France in 2016. This year they travel to the Czech Republic, where they will perform for six days in various locations ending in Prague.
According to Belva, “These tours change lives. Our young people come to see themselves as part of a world culture. They get a much bigger picture of who they are and who they can become. We also give our audiences a different picture of who we are as American citizens. We become ambassadors representing our town, our state, and our country.”
This tour is very special because they will be performing a choral piece that was composed in Terezin by amateur musician, Karel Vrba, called Nezapomeň, who was transported to Auschwitz shortly after the piece was completed. “On this tour, we will be visiting the Terezin Concentration Camp and performing Nezapomeň where it was composed 74 years ago. We will present the Terezin Museum
with a recording of the song for their archives.”
The Cecilia Ensemble, directed by Maria Belva and accompanied by David Vernier, will perform on Sunday afternoon, April 15 at 4:00 pm, at the Dublin Community Church on Main Street in Dublin, NH. This is the concert that the ensemble will perform on their
European Concert Tour of the Czech Republic. Titled “There is Peace,” the hour-long choral program will include several Spirituals, Shaker Songs, and part-songs by contemporary American composers, as well as sacred a cappella pieces, and arrangements by the choir’s accompanist, David Vernier. A performance of a very special kind will be included in the concert: the Czech song, Nezapomeň
(translation: do not forget).
The concert on the 15th is free and open to the public. A free-will donation will help defray the cost of the trip for the young women of the ensemble. GMYC is the performance-based Choral music education program for young singers (Grades 2-12) in the Monadnock Region. We value choral music as essential to growing peace in our community and do not discriminate. Visit the website at
www.grandmonadnockyouthchoirs.org, or call 603-313- 0052 for more information.
Artistic Director, Esther Rhoades was awarded one of eleven 2018 Trendsetter awards.
Grand Monadnock Youth Choirs
GMYC is the performance-based choral music education program for young singers in our community.