The arts have been a powerful tool for healing during the pandemic, offering a way to express pain, sooth our sense of loss, inspire us to move forward, and to connect with others. The Music and Theatre Arts Department is offering a “Concert for Healing” on September 25, 7:30 p.m. in Gantner Hall. In the spirit of the event, the admission is free. While we are not where we hoped to be with the pandemic, we are delighted that (with safety protocols in place) we can perform for a live audience. This concert is particularly powerful as it brings ensembles together from across the Department, with performances by the Wind Symphony, University Orchestra, Cohen String Quartet, Jazz I and II, the Horn Heads, Symphonic Choir, Treble Choir, and Concert Choir.
The diverse compositions on this concert have been selected because of their power to heal, and the works engage with loss and pain in distinct ways. Some of the works directly explore human loss and tragedy. For example, the Wind Symphony will perform “Into the Silent Land” by Steve Danyew, written to honor the twenty children and six educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The work includes an excerpt from a poem written in 1849 by Christina Rossetti when she was 16, a poem that addresses the unspeakable loss of children. One of the works performed by the University Orchestra will be Tchaikovsky’s final movement of his Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique” that ends in a decrescendo and despair. It is the first symphony of the nineteenth century that concludes with a slow movement. While it had long been common practice to end plays and operas in despair or loss, the expectation had been that symphonies would end with triumph. In contrast, the choirs will be performing works that are uplifting. Will Todd’s poignant and hopeful “All Will Be Well,” performed by the Treble Choir, was written for a concert to aid cancer research. Other uplifting examples are Rosephanye Powell’s “Arise, Beloved!” based upon a text from Song of Solomon to be sung by the Concert Choir, and Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem: “In Paradisum,” with its text, “May angels lead you to paradise,” to be sung by the Symphonic Choir. We hope that sharing this meaningful music in this “Concert for Healing” will help us all appreciate the power of the arts and the importance of coming together as a community to heal and hopefully emerge stronger.