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Conference Morsel: Socially Engaged Musicianship

(An excerpt from the interest session “Socially Engaged Musicianship in Choral Music Connecting to the World Around Us,” presented by Doreen Rao during the 2014 ACDA Central Division Conference)
       The idea of “Socially Engaged Musicianship” can be framed by Leonard Bernstein’s response to the assassination of John F. Kennedy: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”
       Based on Harvard University research that defines “GoodWork” as that which is deemed both excellent in quality and socially responsible, there is excellent repertoire that exemplifies that thesis.   Two examples would Alan Naplan’s Jewish morality song, “Al Shlosha and the U2 MLK remembrance, “In the Need of Love.” Socially engaged musicianship is a way of moving “beyond the traditional objectives of beautiful vocal tone and musical literacy toward singing in choirs as an innately personal way of being in the world.   
        In contrast to the traditional methods of selecting choral repertoire to illustrate particular concepts of music, or repertoire composed or arranged to teach a particular set of musical skills, the socially engaged conductor looks to artistically and educationally appropriate repertoire as a cultural, historical and social environment in which students learn to explore, affirm and celebrate their relationship with the music, themselves and the world around them.
on April 2, 2014 7:25am
A worthy goal,  to create a list of "socially responsible"  texts with music.  Can we add to the two examples listed in the excerpt?   Please send in your nominations for inspired texts and well-crafted music.  It seems we need to re awaken our ears and eyes to be good world citizens as well as fine singers. 
I would add
" This Little Light of MIne"   as there are many variants that exhort us to be our best selves in the service of others.  I have used Mark Patterson's two part version with minor word changes for inclusivity.
Sahayta   Ben Allaway      multilingual celebration of community
Siyahamba    Zulu folksong      anti-apartheid anthem
on April 2, 2014 7:04pm
Take a look at two of Elizabeth Alexander's pieces 
"Fighting Over What We Believe"  video with the text at
"When the Song of the Angels is Stilled" text by Howard Thurman
Both are available from the composer at as well as from music retailers.
on April 2, 2014 10:26pm
Standing on the Side of Love by Jason Shelton