Connect with us

Arts & Culture

Lift Every Voice

Produced by the vibrations of the vocal cords, fueled by air from the lungs, the human voice is capable of incredible volume, range, and power. Through this instrument we can feel an expanded sense of ourselves, our sound moving outward into space during a wild karaoke sesh. Or we can feel deeply close to one [...]
Laura Dachenbach

Published

on

Produced by the vibrations of the vocal cords, fueled by air from the lungs, the human voice is capable of incredible volume, range, and power. Through this instrument we can feel an expanded sense of ourselves, our sound moving outward into space during a wild karaoke sesh. Or we can feel deeply close to one another as we blend harmonies, pretending to be Pentatonix singing “Hallelujah.”

Singing is an undeniably a unique physiological experience, and for those who can’t help but sing, Central Ohio has plentiful opportunities to make that experience not just a source of personal fulfillment, but a mission in life as well.

Illuminati

Illuminati

As the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus began to grow, they began to receive requests from churches who not only loved the beautiful CGMC sound, but also wanted to become welcoming spaces for the LGBT community. The group began Illuminati (Latin for “the enlightened ones”) as an outreach, sacred music ensemble.

“I do believe that music has a power to build a bridge,” said Ken Harned, the director of Illuminati, which sings monthly at various houses of worship in the Central Ohio area as part of their services. “The connection with music is universal and sometimes it can have profound implications of somebody’s view of people who are LGBT.”

The gay choral movement began in the 1980s as a social safe space, and as a way for members to respond and care for each other during the HIV/AIDS crisis. Today Illuminati is a spiritual and musical home for men of many religious backgrounds, some of which have been personally hurtful.

“A lot of us—we weren’t welcome in our churches,” said Harned.  “[It’s] healing for some of our people to have their religion back and be able to worship as who they really are, and not have to hide in the closet.”

While Illuminati provides a sense of belonging, the group is continually aware of the effect their presence has on people who hear their music, particularly within the walls of a sacred space.

“They can see the good in who we are. They can see that we sing great music…that we worship the same way they do,” said Harned. “The more [LGBT] people they know, the less afraid they seem to be. And we hope our music tells our story and connects with an audience on a different level.”

Vocal Resistance

When a video from the Women’s March on Washington of a pop-up choir singing “Quiet” with MILCK went viral on Facebook in January of 2017, some commenters suggested bringing the idea to Columbus. Marlene Hartzler, the choir director at North Unitarian Universalist Church who was following the thread, stepped up to organize a rehearsal.

“So we just met. And I think the first time we met there were 35 people who showed up. And we thought: Oh my goodness. We have something here.”

Hartzler and her singers had found a place to channel their emotional and political energy. “Singing builds people up,” explained Hartzler. “It fires us up for the work ahead without draining us.”

Over the past year, Vocal Resistance has sung for town halls, meetings, the March for Science, a solidarity vigil for a woman facing deportation, and opened for the Silence is Death art exhibit at The Vanderelli Room, singing songs such as “America the Beautiful,” “I’m Gonna Walk it with You,” and “Imagine.” Their journey has been one to support each other, to spread empathy, and to change the face of political dissent.

The entire time, Hartzler has held the image of the Singing Revolution in Estonia in her mind. During the late 1980s, Estonians, occupied by the Soviet Union and forbidden by the government to sing their folk songs, gathered by the thousands in public squares to join in traditional Estonian song.

“I thought that was such a beautiful vision of nonviolent protest, of people joining arm in arm and singing instead of shouting,” said Hartzler. “And what a positive, creative force that brings a little bit of beauty in the world.”

Columbus Threshold Choir

Columbus Threshold Choir

For many years, Beatrice Haghiri had let singing get away from her. In 2007, she attended a regional gathering of seventy Threshold Choir singers in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She purchased a CD of the music, songs written to comfort those on “the threshold”—the sick and dying.

“I’d sing a little bit and cry a little bit. After a few months I stopped crying, and it just seemed like this was what my voice was meant to do.”

Shortly afterward, Haghiri, an intensive care nurse, became the leader of the Columbus Threshold Choir, a women’s ensemble that sends out small groups of 2 to 4 singers to be with those in the process of dying. Haghiri describes the music as not unlike a lullaby, providing a similar sense of serenity and soothing. Most of the songs are written by Threshold Choir members around the world.

Although the singing is gentle, the effect of the music is powerful—not just because of the vulnerability of the moment, but because of how singing seems to function as a therapeutic instrument.

“There have been lots of studies that have shown that for people who have Alzheimer’s or significant dementia, singing songs that they remember from when they were young can help unlock that door of the mind and can give them comfort,” says Haghiri. “So I think that it’s almost an innate thing. It’s a visceral experience.”

Death is stigmatized, yet Haghiri and the Threshold Choir singers see a special opportunity to be present at a most important moment of life: the dying moment.

“It’s the honesty of what that time represents. It’s the truth of the love that’s shared between people. We feel honored to be there. We feel that someone has invited us into a very sacred time and space.”

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: See BalletMet live outdoors!

614now

Published

on

SPONSORED

BalletMet’s Friday night’s headline performance at 8:30 p.m. at the Arts Festival is sure to be a highlight of weekend. One of the nation’s top 20 largest professional companies, BalletMet consists of dancers hailing from across the nation and the world and boasts a premiere academy for aspiring professional dancers, one that’s been recognized as an institution of local and national stature.

Since 1978, BalletMet has brought incredible dance to theaters in Central Ohio and beyond and their commitment to bringing dance to the Columbus community, especially in underserved areas, is unparalleled.

Art of War Photo by Jen Zmuda

From in-school programs to theater field trips, scholarships and free performances, the company is dedicated to making dance accessible to all. More than 10,000 children attend the company’s Morning at the Ballet field trip performances each year. And thanks to a grant from PNC Arts Alive, BalletMet’s second company, BalletMet 2, has performed at free events at the King Arts Complex, Franklin Park Conservatory and more, throughout the 2018-19 season.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

In addition to the free performance at the Arts Festival BalletMet will perform at Dance on Dakota on Friday, May 10, from 5 to 8 p.m. in Franklinton. This performance is also free.

Dance on Dakota, co-hosted by Franklinton Arts District, is part of a weekend-long block party in Franklinton and features free food and drink and a collaborative performance with TRANSIT ARTS. The event will take place at Dakota Ave. and Town St.

Dancers Grace Anne Powers and William Newton Photo by Jen Zmuda

BalletMet’s Columbus Arts Festival performance will include a mixed repertoire of shorter pieces from its past productions and will be preceded by music from DJ Donnie M. of Damn Girl.

And if these performances capture your interest, the company recently announced its 2019-20 season, which includes ALICE, based on the later stories of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll, Twisted 3, a collaboration with the Columbus Symphony and Opera Columbus, and, of course, The Nutcracker.

More info at www.balletmet.org. For all your Arts Festival details visit www.colubmusartsfestival.org

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: You wood hate to miss local crafter

614now

Published

on

SPONSORED

Woodworker and Art Makes Columbus featured artist Devon Palmer has been working with his hands since his upbringing in northeast Indiana. His mother a wood carver and his father a carpenter and cabinet maker, Palmer took a more mechanical route by obtaining his pilot’s license and attending Purdue University to pursue a career as an airplane mechanic.

But as his career transitioned from maintenance to the tech field, he yearned to work with his hands again. Originally he considered pottery, before a class he planned to attend got canceled. But a trip home the weekend before Thanksgiving led to his father introducing him to woodturning.

That was more than 15 years ago. And though he is largely self-taught, Palmer also credits local woodturners from the Central Ohio Woodturners (a chapter of the American Association of Woodturners) for taking him under their wing. In 2005, he opened his first studio just north of Downtown, and in 2007 he began teaching woodturning at Woodcraft Columbus.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Today, Palmer does a bit of mentoring of his own. He teaches classes in blade and bowl turning, resin cast pen turning and more advanced projects like hollow vessel turning in his studio at the Idea Foundry. He is also adding a series of LGBTQ date night pen turning classes to his growing schedule of classes, shows and demonstrations.

Palmer says his work represents “family and connectedness” with work ranging from salad bowls and laser engraved pens to funerary urns and ornaments. The details in his hand-crafted tableware and home goods manage to invoke a warm sense of community, fellowship, and hospitality.

Devon Palmer works in internet technology and is also a pianist and ordained minister.

Make your own wood turned pen with Devon Palmer at the Columbus Arts Festival, June 7-9, at the Big Local Art Village located at the Festival’s Franklinton entrance. Learn more about Devon at www.columbusmakesart.com/stories/devon-palmer and get all your Arts Festival details at www.columbusartsfestival.org

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Arts Festival Preview: Dr. E uses voice to overcome adversity

614now

Published

on

SPONSORED POST

Dr. E, singer-songwriter and author Cleveland-born singer-songwriter Dr. Elaine Richardson — known by her stage name Dr. E — has used her voice to detail the incredible circumstances she encountered while overcoming great adversity. Born to a musician father and Jamaican immigrant mother, Dr. E begun tapping into her talent while singing in church, her school’s choir, and in girl groups.

Dr. E continued to sing despite the difficult path she faced. As a teen, she became a sex trafficking victim and fell into addiction. In her recovery, she pursued higher education at Cleveland State University and Michigan State University. During this time Dr. E also began performing as the frontwoman for a number of cover bands and placing her original music on various TV shows. She recorded her first album, “Elevated,” in 2010.

Dr. E’s introspective song lyrics reflect the often difficult process of healing while defending those who share her experiences or face exploitation and discrimination in other ways.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

On her sophomore album, 2017’s “Songs for the Struggle,” she gives a soulful retelling of her journey from sex trafficking survivor to university professor, Ph.D., author and advocate. Blending elements of soul, rock, funk, rhythm and blues, and jazz, Dr. E sings with an astonishing amount of hope and positivity; Though the album details the trauma and exploitation experienced by Dr. E during her teen years, her power message ultimately expresses affirmations of self-love and acceptance employed with an equally powerful and joyous voice.

Dr. E is currently a professor of literacy studies in the College of Education at The Ohio State University. She has written a number of books on African American literature as well as a memoir, “PHD to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My Life.”

See Dr. E. perform at the Columbus Arts Festival, Saturday, June 8 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on the Big Local Stage on Rich St.

For hours, artist listing and all Festival information go to www.columbusartsfestival.org

Continue Reading
X