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Chorosynthesis Singers, a pro ensemble championing humanitarian causes through the art of innovative choral composition and performance
Chorosynthesis Singers, a pro ensemble championing humanitarian causes through the art of innovative choral composition and performance
177 backers pledged $4,522 to help bring this project to life.

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"Empowering Silenced Voices" with Chorosynthesis Singers

$4,522

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UPDATE: We have reached our original goal, which means we are moving forward with the project! Any funds we make over the original goal will go toward future similar projects; we still have 130 additional scores to view from our original Call for Scores!

BACKGROUND 

For several years now, Chorosynthesis has been envisioning a project that would involve the performance of new, high-quality works by living composers. We would honor the excellence of these composers by performing their works with a chamber chorus of professional singers (Chorosynthesis Singers) and Co-Artistic Directors Wendy Moy and Jeremiah Selvey. Essential to the concept of the project was connection to the vision and mission of Chorosynthesis, more specifically engaging community and providing platforms for collaboration. Both passionate about issues of social justice, Wendy and Jeremiah decided to include compositions centered on social justice.

SIGNIFICANCE 

This project seeks to bridge the gap that is often created between Classical music performance and its audience by distinctly championing the balance of the following:

  • collaboration among performers and community,
  • innovation in choral composition,
  • excellence in choral performance,
  • humanitarian causes through the choral art.

To our knowledge, no other fully professional chamber choir in the country can claim this distinctive balance of collaboration, innovation, and excellence with a humanitarian message/connection.

“Empowering Silenced Voices” is profound in that it allows performers, audience members, and partnering organizations to join together in giving a literal and figurative voice to the minority voices--those that may have been overpowered, hushed, timid, or even killed. Some of the topics explored in the repertoire include the following:

  • child abuse,
  • terrorism, war,
  • LGBTQI love,
  • natural disaster,
  • women’s rights, and
  • civil disobedience.

It is our hope that the performance of this amazing art will transform our and your minds about the way we give or do not give voice to other humans in our world. This project truly embraces the notion that music has the power to change the world!

THE JOURNEY 

Toward finalizing this goal of a high-quality performance of new choral works with a humanitarian focus, Chorosynthesis has accomplished a long list of goals: 

  • Successful 1st collaborative concert...
    Brahms Requiem Project, benefit concert for the community
  • Sent out a Call for Scores...
    Centered on the theme of justice for a chamber vocal ensemble and to date we have received more than 250 scores. 
  • Advisory Committee evaluated and selected from 130 scores...
    Approximately 30 that demonstrated the best fit for our vision and the highest compositional quality.
  • Collaborated with Singers in 2 NEW MUSIC READING SESSIONS...In June and October of this year, Wendy and Jeremiah flew to Seattle, Washington and presented two New Music Reading Sessions to solicit feedback from singers regarding some of these compositions. These reading sessions demonstrate our commitment to collaboration, even in the music selection process.
    The responses to several of the pieces were so overwhelming that sometimes people were left speechless and/or teary-eyed. (We cannot wait to share this music with you!) 
  • Created a roster of professional singers committed to our vision...
    We developed a pre-screening and audition process and recruited tirelessly to gather the best singers first from the Seattle area and then from the rest of the country. We spent a day in Seattle and several days in Skype interviews/auditions, and we are proud to announce the Chorosynthesis Singers roster--a fully professional chamber choir.
  • Finalized the concert title and program...
    After months of deliberation, multiple phone calls and Skype conversations between co-artistic directors, and many emails with composers, we are thrilled to announce that the title of the concert will be “Empowering Silenced Voices” and will explore the topics of child abuse, terrorism, war, LGBTQI love, natural disaster, women’s rights, and civil disobedience.
    You can view a list of titles and composers and learn more about each piece on our website: www.chorosynthesis.org/empowering-silenced-voices
  • Developed a budget for the project...
  • Applied for additional funding through several granting agencies:
  • We received $2000 from Connecticut College’s Research Matter Funds in April 2015.
    - We received an additional $1,800 from Connecticut College’s Research Matter Funds in October 2015.
    - We anxiously await the response from New Music USA (up to $15,000) and the Puffin Foundation (up to $2,500).
  • Co-Artistic Directors decided to donate both their individual performer fee and travel stipend back to the project.

We need additional funding to cover the remaining costs of the concert production: $3,920.

THE PROJECT IN DETAIL

The Rehearsals & Performance: On Sunday, March 13, 2016, the singers and conductors will arrive from all over the country for a week of daily rehearsals (17.5 hours in total), including a dress rehearsal in the performance space on Thursday, March 17 with our cellist, clarinetist, and pianist. Then on Saturday, March 19 at 7:30pm, Chorosynthesis Singers will present “Empowering Silenced Voices,” a concert of new choral works on the theme of social justice, as part of the Wayward Music Series at the Good Shepherd Chapel in the Seattle neighborhood of Wallingford. Believing that music has the ability to bring together communities, this concert will highlight voices that have been silenced throughout history by exploring topics such as child abuse, terrorism, war, non-heteronormative love, natural disaster, women’s rights, and civil disobedience.

Good Shepherd Chapel
Good Shepherd Chapel

FUN FACT: Since putting out the Call for Scores in April, we have received over 250 submissions from six (6) continents, making this a truly international project.

Map of Submissions
Map of Submissions

Highlights from the Program: The concert (March 19, 2016) will present innovative choral works, featuring regional, U.S., and world premieres. One of the world premieres will be Eric Pazdziora's Canticles For the Holy Innocents, a three-movement work for mixed voices dedicated to the memory of Lydia Schatz--and by extension, to the thousands of children who die each year as a result of violence and abuse. These liturgical texts, taken from early Latin hymns and prayers, commemorate the martyrdom of these children. 
In Summary: World Premiere, Martyrdom of Children

The concert will also feature Steven Serpa’s three-movement work, Like a Darling based on the poetic triptych by Naomi Shihab Nye, a Palestinian-American poet. The text of the second movement of this work was written by Nye as a response to a bombing in Lebanon in the 1990s; Serpa was deeply moved by this text, and composed the music as his own personal response to the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. It is against the backdrop of the recent terrorist activity in Beirut and Paris that the remainder of the triptych is being composed for Chorosynthesis Singers.
In Summary: World Premiere, Bombings & Terrorism, War

Boston Marathon Bombing
Boston Marathon Bombing

Two recent works by female composers will be included in the program. “Blue Phoenix” is part of composer Kala Pierson’s long-term project called Axis of Beauty--a now decade-long creative response to the George W. Bush administration's "Axis of Evil" wartime propaganda--which has introduced Western audiences to many texts by living Middle Eastern poets, journalists, and everyday citizens, via twelve different pieces and cycles so far. In 2005, she listened to every episode of the student-run War News Radio podcast (among other sources of direct interviews with Iraqis experiencing the U.S. occupation), and this text leaped out as one of the most important to her...

When the bombs were falling, I was crazy enough to get on the roof. I felt I should see this, because artists are the eyes of the culture. It was beautiful — you know?

When all the stores were closed, and Baghdad was really a hot spot, I kept on doing art until I ran out of pigment. There was nothing to paint with, except boxes of crayons. So I mixed up wax paint, using heat. I made thirty wax works: some on cardboard, some on old record sleeves.

The blue one is my favorite. You see the blue color taking over everything, but also reds and yellows penetrating the blues, like flashing rockets penetrating the calm sky.

— from an interview with Iraqi artist Esam Pasha; used with kind permission of War News Radio

In Summary: Beauty Amidst War in Iraq

by Supanova89
by Supanova89

When we read through Karen Thomas’ “Over the City” in one of our New Music Reading Sessions, several singers were left teary-eyed and choked up with the visceral portrayal of the Hiroshima bombing. The composer writes the following about her experience in Hiroshima:

The text for "Over the City" is derived from an actual experience. During my two-year stay in Japan I had traveled down to Nagasaki and visited the bomb museum there and ate, it seems, some bad fish from a little food stall. I had planned to stop off in Hiroshima on the way back to Kobe, but on route became extremely ill. By the time I reached Hiroshima the conductor had encamped me in his little office on the train (a retching foreigner is rather noticeable in Japan). All I remember of Hiroshima is the brief sight of it through the window and my garbled emotions, compounded by food poisoning. Only later did I equate that historical date, August 6th, in Hiroshima with my own illness -- the symptoms of food poisoning strangely mocking those of radiation sickness.
In Summary: Reflections on Hiroshima

Hiroshima Atomic Dome
Hiroshima Atomic Dome

European composer Alexander Campkin set music to a text celebrating gay love by the ancient Greek poet Sappho, who was born on the island of Lesbos. Campkin’s setting of this LGBT-related love poem was overwhelmingly appreciated in our recent reading session. Prepare to be swept away by the U.S. premiere of Campkin’s “Unleash the Beauty,” celebrating same-sex love.

In Summary: U.S. Premiere, Celebration of Gay Love, International Composer

First Same-Sex Wedding in Washington State
First Same-Sex Wedding in Washington State

Chorosynthesis will be welcoming all of the featured composers to the March performance, with a special invitation to Eric Pazdziora and Steven Serpa. In addition, Chorosynthesis will invite Childhaven/United Way--a nonprofit organization that provides healing care to abused, neglected and chemically affected babies, toddlers and preschoolers--to speak at the concert about their work.

By premiering high-quality works that champion women’s rights, children’s lives and well-being, peace, anti-terrorism, and LGBTQI love and by performing these innovative works at a professional level, Chorosynthesis Singers will be using high art to engage the community in timely topics of significance and to transform our world for the better.

PROJECTED EXPENSES

$3,500 Performer Fees ($250 per Singer/Conductor for a Project)

$550 Instrumental Performer Fees (Clarinet, Cello, Piano)

$500 Professional Liability Insurance

$690 Performance & Rehearsal Venues

$100 Online Ticket Platform

$700 Music Cost (Printing/Shipping) ($50 Performer)

$250 Piano Tuner

$200 Program/Marketing Design

$500 Program Printing

$800 Sound/Video Engineer & Equipment

$100 Recording Materials

$450 Kickstarter Fees

$3,500 Travel/Accommodation Stipend ($500 for each Singer/Conductor Outside the Greater Seattle Area)

$200 Poster Printing & Posting

$250 Publicity

TOTAL: $12,290

PROJECTED INCOME

$2,000 Research Matters Fund, Connecticut College

$1,800 Research Matters Fund, Connecticut College

Expected $1,500 Co-Artistic Directors Return Performer Fees ($250 each) & Travel Stipend ($500 each)

Expected $1,000 Ticket Sales (TICKETS: $20 Adult / $7 Student)

Expected $320 Rehearsal Venue Donation (University of Washington Choral Program)

Expected $750 Ad Sales in Program

Expected $1,000 Sponsorships

EXPECTED TOTAL: $8,370 

OUTSTANDING AMOUNT: $3,920

Risks and challenges

Barring "acts of God," possible challenges arise due to the many layers of collaboration this project entails--with singers, composers, venue, community partners. First, if singers get sick or an emergency arises, we have a list of other singers we can contact; in addition, we are in the process of finalizing contracts with each of our singers. Second, we have signed a contract with our composers to ensure that 10 of the 11 pieces selected for the program will indeed be premieres. All the music is finished, and we will be able to have it in the hands of performers in January. Third, we have signed a contract for the venue, but we have several other options should something unforeseen arise. Finally, while we would not expect any of our staff (marketing, front of house, production, AV engineer, etc.) to not be able to fulfill their jobs--because we are college educators--we are always prepared to improvise; in addition, if necessary, we are prepared to find other staff who might believe in the cause enough to jump in at the last moment.

Our biggest risk to the project right now is funding, but we are more than 2/3 there, and we are confident that--with your help and our hard work--we can minimize this risk. Wendy and Jeremiah will be flying to Seattle in January to build relationships with community partners and to build a stronger base of corporate and individual sponsors.

We would love the challenge of having "excessive" monetary support for the project. Any additional funds will help this and future projects to be less "bare bones" in their approach. We have dreams for our next few projects, and we would love for you to become a part of them.

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    Personalized Happy Birthday (Sung by Artistic Directors). Delivered electronically with the name of your choice inserted.

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    30-Minute Conducting or Voice Lesson Via Skype (with your choice of Wendy Moy or Jeremiah Selvey)

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    Autographed Score from the Programmed Composer of Your Choice and 2 complimentary tickets to the March performance

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    Premium seating for 2 at Concert and Invitation to Dress Rehearsal

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    Meet and Greet with the Artistic Directors and Recording of Chorosynthesis Singers reading your favorite “classical” choral piece (under 5 minutes)

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Funding period

- (30 days)