So Much More than Just the Music

Tis article was originally published in the March 15, 2018 issue of Trough Song, the Journal of the Mich- igan School Vocal Music Association. It is reprinted

here with permission from MSVMA.

Exciting! Challenging! Enlightening! Inspiring! Unifying!

Chelsea High School and Detroit Renaissance High School students were at no loss for words to describe the musical journey they shared that culminated in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day concert. Teir choral directors, Steven Hinz and Patrice DeBose, were enthusiastically com- mitted to creating an opportunity for students to experience and understand the impact that shared music making in a collaborative envi- ronment can have on the human spirit.

Hinz and DeBose chose Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo as the centerpiece for their collaborative choral project, the quintessential selection for teaching and experiencing utopian global unity. Te program notes explain, “Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo brings to life the global aspect of the traditional Psalm 100 text, “O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands.” It is composed in seven different languages and draws from a wide spectrum of musical influences.

From the concert program, “Each movement of the work combines characteristics of its language-group’s musical culture with the composer’s musical language. Te opening movement expresses the ancient liturgical Latin translation of the Psalm in a rather American musical idiom, reflecting influences from the composer’s native country and introducing key musical motives. Te second movement sets the “from age to age” portion of the text in Hebrew and Arabic, evoking ancient cultures from the Middle East. Te music intentionally inter- twines the two languages in a symbolic gesture of unity between these cultures. Te work shiſts to Africa in the fourth movement, with celebra- tory portions of the text in Zulu and drawing from African vocal and drumming traditions.


Virginia Kerwin

Te sixth movement, “Song of the Earth,” por- trays the Earth itself singing—first wordlessly, but eventually finding its own voice—and leads seamlessly into the final movement. Te finale unites many of the key themes and cultures from previous movements with other material, old and new, as all the earth sings as one, “om- nis terra, jubilate!”

Te process was well defined. Daily rehearsals with their teachers were augmented with ses- sions with guest teachers/conductors Dr. Bran- don Johnson from Eastern Michigan University and Dr. Eugene Rogers from Te University of Michigan. Singers were helped to understand that great music encourages interpretation variances and the use of different rehearsal techniques. Tey learned that creative decision making is exploring limitless possibilities and transformation through the iterative process!

Te concert at Westminster Church of Detroit began with You Must Have True Religion by Roland Carter and Alleluia by Ralph Manuel sung by the Detroit Renaissance High School Choir and followed by Carl Reinecke’s Serenade in G Minor performed by the Chelsea Chamber


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