A Message from Tom PriceHi Friends,
Let me tell you how we came up with the idea of The Global Choir & Orchestra Music Initiative.
In 1992 I had the honor of conducting the 92-piece symphony orchestra and 420-voice choir for the main program of the Second Bahá’í World Congress in New York City. That was such an exciting time. We assembled composers, singers and musicians from all over the world, and together we created a large body of new and exciting music, which has been widely used and loved for the past 24 years.
Since 1992 I have traveled throughout the world, having now visited more than 40 countries, conducting music and speaking at conferences and schools. Everywhere I go, people ask me the same question: “why haven’t you written and produced more music like you did in 1992?”
A Good Question
I’ve never had a good answer to that question. I usually explain how difficult it is to assemble 420 singers from all over the world and hire a professional symphony orchestra. It takes a special occasion, like a World Congress, to assemble the talent and resources of the entire Bahá’í world. Without that, I could not see a way – either financially or logistically – that we could easily manage a music project on that scale again. But we learned many things from this experience. Firstly, there is great reservoir of musical talent in our worldwide community – wonderful composers, great singers and musicians. Secondly, there is great love in the general community for high quality choral and orchestral music that can be used in gatherings, celebrations, devotional meetings and for personal upliftment.
Reflecting on what we learned, and surveying new resources in communication, funding, and recording technology, some friends encouraged me to conceive a project for Kickstarter that would enable us to produce a new body of choral and orchestral music set to the writings and teachings of Bahá’u’lláh – with the aim of not only inviting the worldwide community to financially support the endeavor, but also to involve as many as possible to take part in it, as singers, musicians and composers.
Everyone Ecstatic About the Project
I contacted some fellow composers and singers and ran the idea past them. Everyone was ecstatic. I called my old friend Graham Major, the composer of so many great pieces set to the Bahá’í writings, for the World Congress and recordings such as “Songs of the Ancient Beauty,” – such as “Whither Can a Lover Go?” “Song of the Maid of Heaven,” “Noble Have I Created Thee,” and others. Graham enthusiastically agreed to compose new music for the project.
I contacted some well-known professional singers to see if they would record solos on some of the songs. This included seven-time Grammy nominated Tierney Sutton, the beloved children’s entertainer Red Grammer, my daughter Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive fame, recently proclaimed “best new voice” by Rolling Stone Magazine, outstanding Gospel singer and composer Van Gilmer, my other daughter, Emily Price, well-known for her work with the Voices of Bahá, and the beautiful Persian singer and composer, Sonbol Taefi, with whom I recently enjoyed producing a recording with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Everyone was thrilled to hear about the project and eagerly agreed to perform on the recording. I began to realize – with so much enthusiasm and goodwill – that it may be possible to yet again produce music on the scale of a large chorus, full symphony orchestra, and fine soloists.
Please Support the Initiative
More information is in the section below. I invite you to support this initiative, by reviewing the column on the right side of this website. The Kickstarter fundraising platform is a very special way of enabling people to support worthy artistic projects such as this.
There are many ways you can support us:
1) Buy the CD - or Digital Download - now! If enough friends purchase the new CD in advance, we will be well on our way to success.
2) Join the project as a singer in the Global Choir. Imagine that you can not only support the project, but also actively be a part of it. A pledge of $30 this month will guarantee singers a place in the choir, to record in their own location. (See below for details)
3) Make a contribution of whatever amount you are able. Various levels of contributions will entitle you to special gifts and incentives.
4) You can click more than one pledge box on the right and it will be added to one total pledge. For example, if you would like to receive a CD as well as sing in the Global Choir, just check both boxes.
5) Share this information as widely as possible with your friends. As you know, we have one month reach our goal, otherwise we cannot proceed.
If you would like to write to me personally, with ideas or questions, please email to email@example.com
The Project in Detail
Here is more information if you would like to explore the project in detail:
A Professional Symphony Orchestra
In recent years I have produced professional recordings with European Orchestras, including the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. To record large ensembles of world-class musicians in suitable studios involves costs between $50,000 and $100,000. That is a significant portion of our overall budget, but absolutely necessary if we are to achieve the quality a project like this requires.
But what about a choir of singers from all over the world? That was a great feature of the World Congress, and the Voices of Bahá chorus which has toured the world during the past 20 years. A mass of singers from all over the globe has such power and spirit. Without something like a World Congress, how could we get such beauty and diversity?
A Global Choir
The answer came to by reflecting on advances in recording technology. For several years I have been impressed with the work of Eric Whitacre, who pioneered the concept of the “virtual choir” in music recordings. He invites singers from all over the world to record their voice in their own location – including a video of their singing – which is then electronically combined with the recordings of every other singer. The results have been spectacular, attracting the participation of thousands of vocalists and garnering millions of views on Youtube and other websites, If you view his videos at ericwhitacre.com you will see how modern technology has the power to unite the world into one musical family. I am excited that our initiative will be the first time this method of choral recording is used to demonstrate the worldwide character of the international Bahá’í community.
Can You Sing With Us?
We invite singers from anywhere in the world to join us and become part our Global Choir. If you join the Global Choir - by pledging $30 (see details on the right) - you will receive music and instructions for recording your voice and image in your own location, which will be combined with the whole world of singers on the final CD and video.
Reflecting the Beauty and Diversity of Humanity
Our vision for this project is not merely to make new music, as wonderful as that is. It is also designed to promote the oneness of humankind, by coordinating the joyful singing of people from every continent in a worldwide chorus. The images of this global celebration will be a powerful demonstration of this vision, and a befitting expression of the writings and teachings of Bahá'u'lláh contained in the words of the songs.
Worldwide Search for Children & Junior Youth to Sing Solo
An exciting feature of the project will be the inclusion of talented young singers performing as soloists on two of the songs.
- One child, aged ten or younger,
- and one junior youth, aged eleven to fifteen,
will be selected to record a solo on the final CD and video, accompanied by the full choir and orchestra.
These two young singers will take their place alongside the professional soloists listed above, and will be an example and encouragement to children and youth everywhere.
Once the project is successfully launched, parents who would like their children to be considered for these recordings will be invited to upload a video to our website, from which will be selected these two young soloists. More information about this can be found on our website.
Twelve-Month Schedule to Release
By the end of next year we will release a CD of new music set to the writings and teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. Music that is inspiring and uplifting on the grand scale of a mass chorus, full symphony orchestra and fine soloists.
Here’s how we will do it:
- From December to May 2016 the composers will write and orchestrate the new music.
- In June the Orchestra will record in Europe, probably in London or Prague.
- In June and July the soloists and other professional recording vocalists, in the United States and other parts of the world, will record the solo parts and beginnings of the mass choir.
- From July until September, individual singers in the “Global Choir” will receive recordings to listen to and copy and record in their own area, to be sent electronically to our engineers, who will combine the recordings and videos into one mass global choir.
- October and November, engineers will combine the recordings and mix and prepare the final CD and initial videos.
- December, the CD will be released worldwide, with videos made available on Youtube and other websites.
The composers will include myself and Graham Major, as well as new orchestral and choral arrangements of works set to Bahá’í texts by the late Ravi Shankar. Others will be announced as the project unfolds, and we are inviting composers make themselves known to us in the early stages of the project.
There are few things like the power and majesty of a large choir, symphony orchestra and beautiful soloists combined with uplifting and spiritually meaningful words. Clearly, that is why so many of the greatest composers have chosen this artistic medium to express profound religious and spiritual themes.
“The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit,” ‘Abdul-Bahá wrote.
We hope and pray that this project can release the wondrous power latent in music for the upliftment of the world. Much of the music will be devotional in character, drawing on the writings of the Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdul-Bahá and the Báb.
Some will focus on our vision for a united world, celebrating the beauty of unity and diversity, a call for world peace, and proclaim the coming of age of humanity.
Already, as the composers are beginning to work, we have a vision for some of the songs in the initiative:
- With recent developments in the implementation of the Bahá’í Calendar, uniting the world in the annual commemorations of the Twin Birthdays of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, we will include new musical settings of passages from the beautiful newly-translated tablets revealed for those occasions. The availability of these new songs will be especially timely for the upcoming bicentennial celebrations in 2017 and 2019, when the world will celebrate the 200th anniversaries of these twin holy days.
- The late Ravi Shankar composed eleven pieces of music for the Dedication of the House of Worship in New Delhi. While some of this music is known, much of it has never been professionally recorded or released. The project will include new orchestral and choral arrangements of some of these gems, set to the writings of Bahá’u’llah, composed by one of best-known musicians of the 20th century.
- As we approach the 100th anniversary of the passing of ‘Abdul-Bahá in 2021, we feel it is appropriate for some of the songs to celebrate His life and work.
- The ocean of Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation includes poems that are especially suited to song. These poems have often been chanted or sung by the Persian believers, but rarely have they been set to Western music, or evenly widely known to those who cannot understand the beauty of the original language. Yet, the Master specifically prophesied that one day these poems would be sung in a Western style: “I earnestly hope that thou wilt memorize all the Persian poems revealed by the Blessed Beauty and wilt sing them in a voice of incomparable sweetness at Bahá'í meetings and gatherings. The day is not far distant when these poems will be set to Western music and the sweet accents of these songs will reach the Abha Kingdom with exceeding joy and gladness.” A goal for this project will be to fulfill the Master's vision, setting some of these works to fine music, in the hope the “sweet accents of these songs” will, indeed, “reach the Abha Kingdom with exceeding joy and gladness.”
- At least one song – featuring a young child singing solo – will be set to a passage in the Writings revealed for little children. The style will be such as to encourage children everywhere to sing the Word of God from an early age. “The power and charm of music…,” ‘Abdul-Bahá wrote, “has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure, and melodies have great influence in them. The latent talents with which the hearts of these children are endowed will find expression through the medium of music. Therefore, you must exert yourselves to make them proficient; teach them to sing with excellence and effect. It is incumbent upon each child to know something of music.”
Bring Forth New Music
Except for new orchestrations of works by Ravi Shankar, the music will be newly composed for this project. Indeed, the aim of the initiative is to provide an inspiration for composers to bring forth new works.
Some of My Music
While the music for this project will be new, I share with you excerpts of a few pieces I have composed in a similar style incorporating orchestra, choir and soloists:
The Music of Graham Major
Graham Major has delighted the Bahá’í community for many years with his fine compositions. He has already begun conceiving music for this project. Here are a few samples of his past work
Whither Can A Lover Go?
Noble Have I Created Thee
The Cost of the Project
In preparing our budget of $140,000, we were conscious of trying to keep costs at the barest minimum to enable the initiative to proceed.
To many, familiar with large orchestral and choral productions, this budget might seem to be impossibly small. Indeed, one professional project I recently completed with an orchestra and multiple soloists, had a budget of $500,000. This is not uncommon in the industry. To others, more familiar with electronic, pop or synthesizer-based productions, this budget may seem rather high. But when you involve 70-90 live musicians of a world class standard, further requiring the hire of suitable recording studios large enough for such ensembles, you quickly encounter expenses exceeding several hundred thousands of dollars. We have been able to keep our budget as low as it is because much of the work is being done by dedicated volunteers prepared to either offer their services free or at a lower cost than would normally be possible. .
- $80,000 for the orchestra, studio, singers and musicians,
- $30,000 for technicians, engineers and video production,
- $10,000 for initial CD artwork, manufacture and distribution,
- $20,000 for fees to composers, orchestrators, music copyists and score preparation specialists.
Further Goals with Additional Funds
If we fail to meet this modest goal, it will be impossible to begin the project. However, Kickstarter projects can attract more funds than the initial goal. If the pledges here exceed our initial budget, the additional funds will be use for such things as:
- to increase the total number of songs on the recording, perhaps to a double CD;
- to involve more composers and/or soloists;
- to produce more and higher quality videos of additional tracks, and to make them available free on Youtube;
- to involve more children soloists, from the worldwide search for talented children, and produce more music for the young, perhaps even producing a full separate recording of children’s sacred music;
- to produce an additional CD of unaccompanied choir music (a capella) set to the writings, similar to “Songs of the Ancient Beauty,” as this type of music is suitable in our temples, and many Bahá’í composers have written works in that style.
Samples of the Soloists
Here are samples of some of the soloists who have agreed to sing on this project:
Tierney Sutton - Song of the Maid of Heaven
Sonbol Taefi - Zendegani
Red Grammer - One Family
Van Gilmer - We Are Soldiers
Rachael Price - My God, My Adored One
Emily Price - Dastam Begir 'Abdul-Baha
See our website in the coming months to learn about more singers as they join the project.
Would you like to volunteer to help?
As this exciting project unfolds, we will continue to welcome contact with those with experience in such things as:
- Music Copying (Sibelius or Finale)
- Audio Engineering
- Video Production
- Graphic Design
- Website Design and Maintenance
- Other related skills
Please see our Website for more details or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Risks and challenges
This is an enormous undertaking, not without potential challenges and obstacles. To meet all such challenges with joy and radiance, we will need to continually draw on the talent and abilities of friends throughout the world. In conceiving this project we have consulted and involved people who have the capacity to see this initiative through to completion.
The project involves many of the key personnel who have been instrumental in administering the worldwide activities of the Voices of Bahá over the past 20 years, organizing hundreds of concerts in more than 35 countries, employing symphony orchestras and coordinating the involvement of an international community of singers that now exceeds 1,200. In one festival alone, in New York City in 2002, this organization assembled 560 singers and 90 orchestral musicians in a joyous week of music and performances, culminating in a highly acclaimed concert in Carnegie Hall. The experience gained over the past quarter of a century will serve the project well as we embark on this new and exciting endeavor.
Throughout my career I have had the good fortune of being able to organize projects of this nature, from conducting the music of the World Congress, to Temple Dedications, to international tours concerts and producing recordings. But alone, I cannot complete such an initiative without the dedicated assistance of many others. We will, therefore, continue to seek out those who have a desire to lend their talents and capacities to this project, and welcome the further involvement of those with professional experience in music, video production, audio recording, festival planning and other essential skills.
We are confident in the spirit of unity and collective enterprise within the worldwide Baha’i community. We are equally confident that if there is sufficient desire to see this project succeed - as demonstrated by meeting our funding goal – then this same unity will enable us to see the project through to completion.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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