Music is a powerful thing. It has the ability to evoke emotions and trigger unexpected feelings. Different genres affect different people, with something out there for everyone. Because of this, it’s no surprise music often acts as a comfort or escape from everyday life. While we are influenced by music and its components, we also have the ability to connect with it. Music can affect people on a deep emotional level, which is why it can be a powerful tool in building empathy and shaping our perceptions. Next week, RC Singers plans to use music in this way for a refugee benefit concert aimed to raise awareness for Freedom House Detroit.
Currently directed by Joseph Kemper, RC Singers is a mixed choir affiliated with LSA’s Residential College program. Composed of University of Michigan students with a variety of academic interests, the choir studies and performs an assortment of choral music literature. This involves multiple time periods and genres, which results in a unique collection of pieces with their own styles and sounds. In addition to areas like music literacy and vocal technique, the songs for this year’s concert revolve around expression and empathy.
As mentioned earlier, the concert is aimed to raise awareness and money for Freedom House Detroit, a “temporary home for survivors of persecution from around the world who are seeking asylum in the United States and Canada,” according to the foundation’s website. Their mission is “to uphold a fundamental American principle, one inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, of providing safety for those ‘yearning to breathe free.’” This mission is supported by the music in the concert, with “yearning to be free” directly translated into the lyrics of the song, “The Lady of the Harbour.” The concert has over ten songs covering styles such as folk, classical, and pop, all of which carrying themes related to openness and helping one another. Some songs specifically pertain to the refugee crisis, such as Caroline Shaw’s “To The Hands,” which has a movement listing data on displaced persons during global refugee movements. The content of the songs supports the mission of Freedom House Detroit:
“Guided by our belief that all people deserve to live free from oppression and to be treated with justice, compassion and dignity, we offer a continuum of care and services to our residents as well as to other refugees in need. We advocate for systemic change that more fully recognizes the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.”
Overall, with the use of powerful lyrics, harmonies, and instrumentals (live strings and a pianist), RC Singers hopes to build awareness and empathy while demonstrating the musical skills developed throughout the semester.
Joseph Kemper, Conductor
Sarah Jordan, Assistant Conductor
Minji Kim, Collaborative Pianist
Deb Drennan, Guest Speaker, CEO Freedom House Detroit
More information on Freedom House Detroit: https://freedomhousedetroit.org/
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/296021157787656/
Note: Concert takes place Thursday, December 6th (not December 7th) at 7:30 P.M.