Resounding Remarks

Our blog that will have posts that we push around the social media sites.

Help for the Houseless

Help for the Houseless

By Kristina Nakagawa, Artistic Director, Resounding Achord

Resounding Achord is kicking off our 6th season with something that might feel different from the concerts of the past five seasons. This past February at the Western Division conference of the American Choral Directors Association, I was fortunate to hear a performance by Los Angeles’ Urban Voices Project. The Urban Voices Project’s Skid Row Choir brings the healing power of music directly to individuals disenfranchised by homelessness both inside and outside the neighborhood of Skid Row.

Their performance offered a stark contrast to the professional and collegiate level choirs that I heard that weekend. While their sound might not have been musically perfect, it was the most joyful presentation of the entire event. The interest session that followed after the concert brought me to tears. Individuals from the choir told their stories, and it brought a face and a reality to the crisis that I hadn’t experienced before. Leeav Sofer, Urban Voices’ Artistic Director, challenged everyone in attendance to go out into their communities and make a difference. He even went so far as to say that if we thought that homelessness wasn’t an issue in our communities, we were kidding ourselves! Of course, anyone living in San Jose today knows that homelessness exists, and it is a real and urgent matter.

I decided to bring Mr. Sofer’s challenge directly to our community at Resounding Achord. This inspired our program for our fall concert, “Take Me Home,” which features music centered on home, shelter, and community. Our next challenge was to decide where the concert would be held. There was something that spoke to us about having the concert as close as possible to many of the people we were trying to help, which led us to Grace Baptist Church in the heart of Downtown San Jose. Jan Clayton, Resounding Achord’s Executive Director, and I had the pleasure of meeting with pastor Liliana Da Valle and her staff at Grace, and she explained to us that at her church, they refer to the homeless as “houseless” because they will always have a home at Grace. I love this sentiment, and so we found our concert home at Grace, too.

All of the proceeds from the concert will be given to support the houseless ministry at Grace through the Winter Faith Collaborative, a Santa Clara County movement of faith communities, and the Village House Interfaith Shelter of Hope, a shelter for medically fragile women in Santa Clara County. I know we aren’t going to solve the houseless crisis with just one concert, but the community of Resounding Achord and I feel like if we can make a difference for even a small group it is worth every effort.

Additionally, we wanted the concert to be completely inclusive and allow people from all walks of life to attend, perhaps even coming in from off the street. There won’t be traditional tickets sold for this event either, but concertgoers are encouraged to reserve their seats in advance. Admission is free, and attendees are encouraged to make a donation to support the houseless as they are able. Donations of lightly used or new socks will also be collected at the event.

I hope you will join us, I hope you will be inspired, and I hope you will be changed, just as I have been.

If you’d like to learn more about Urban Voices, you can visit their website at http://urbanvoicesproject.org, or watch this inspiring clip: Today Show Video. 

Join us for “Take Me Home,” Sunday, October 28, at 3pm at Grace Baptist Church in San Jose. To reserve your seat for this special concert, please visit our Event Page.

 

Touring the Baltics — June 2018

Touring the Baltics — June 2018

This summer, Resounding Achord (with members of Peninsula Cantare) had the pleasure of joining San José State University and West Valley College singers in the Baltics for an amazing tour of the region and to perform Mozart’s Requiem. We had a great time, and are rejuvenated as we start rehearsing for our 2018-2019 season. Here is a recap of this once in a lifetime tour and our performances.

The trip began in Helsinki, Finland, where we experienced the incredible Sibelius Monument. Born in Finland in 1865, he was most known for his symphonies and tone poems, however there were some great choral works scattered throughout his body of work as well. He died in 1957 and the monument was erected in 1967. The steel pipes in the monument actually sing excerpts from his works. It is surreal!


(Photo by Keith Byron) The Sibelius Monument, by Finnish sculptor Eila Hiltunen, is made of cluster of over 600 steel organ pipes which reach over 27 feet high in places.


(Photo by Dan Hillman) Singing from underneath the Sibelius Monument pipe structure. Amazing acoustics!

Then it was off to Estonia on a ferry. Once we arrived we got straight to rehearsing the Requiem with San José State and West Valley. We immediately knew the sound was glorious! In between rehearsing, we were able to squeeze in some sightseeing in the beautiful Medieval city of Tallinn, Estonia. And the three groups also gave a “spotlight concert” at St John’s church. Tallinn is the best preserved Medieval old town in Europe, and it is easy to see why! In addition, it is home to one of the oldest operating pharmacies in Europe, considered to have opened in the year 1415.


(Photo by David Smith) The three groups and conductors (left to right – Lou De La Rosa, Jeffrey Benson, and Kristina Nakagawa) receiving applause at the end of the concert at St. John’s church.

We witnessed the remnants of Soviet occupation, which was prominent throughout the Baltics and an important, yet tragic, part of their history. At the Song Festival grounds, we stood where the Singing Revolution began which eventually ended the Soviet occupation of the Baltics. In 1988, over 100,000 Estonians gathered under Soviet rule for a music festival that ended with the crowd spontaneously singing Estonian patriotic songs. This first act of peaceful protest started the Singing Revolution that ended in 1991 with the Baltic countries claiming their independence.


(Photo by Dan Hillman) Under the Estonian Song Festival Grounds singing shell.

We performed Mozart’s Requiem to a full house in the Estonia Concert Hall in the middle of Old Town Tallinn. The crowd was so pleased with the performance that they demanded 3 encores. All of the audiences we sang for began clapping so vigorously that when they began to synchronize their claps that meant they wanted an encore. This is not something we were familiar with in America, and we eventually had to call it a night, because we actually ran out of pieces to sing!


(Photo by Steven Moore) During the Mozart Requiem performance in the Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn.

To fully immerse ourselves in the local culture, we had the privilege of visiting a children’s home beautifully situated in the heart of the Estonian countryside. We removed a fence from the property and had a great time in the process. After the hard work was done we did a musical exchange where the children sang for us and we sang for them.


(Photo by Michelle Dreyband) Getting rid of the fence buried in vegetation.


(Photo by Dan Hillman) A group photo after our in promptu concert.

After Tallinn, we made our way to Riga by way of the beautiful Baltic coast and stopped for a picnic in a bog along our route. Once in Riga we enjoyed the beautiful Art Nouveau architecture of the city and also saw how the old town rebuilt after bombings during the second World War. We were pleased to join our Latvian choir member, Mara, who sang with us for our concert in Riga.

Our concert in Riga was an exchange with the University of Latvia’s Dziesmuvara mixed choir. The concert ended in a joint performance of Dziedot Dzimu, Dziedot Augu from our Passages concert, roughly translated from Latvian to “I was born to sing and I will always sing.” A sentiment everyone can was able to get behind for our closing tour performance.


(Photo by Dan Hillman) The “Bay Singers” Concert in Riga at St. Peter’s Church.

After Riga we traveled to Vilnius for the conclusion of our tour. We visited the song festival grounds here as well, and we gave an impromptu performance for ourselves and the park-goers who were riding their scooters and bikes in the summer heat.


(Photo by Steven Moore) The Lithuanian Song Festival grounds under the dome.

Having the opportunity to travel abroad while doing something we all love is an incredible privilege. From the drinking songs during dinner to the sky-bar excursions taking in the sunsets at 11pm, we truly had an amazing time ”building community through song” across the globe.

The Cost of Light

The Cost of Light

by Kristina Nakagawa, Artistic Director, Resounding Achord

I attended a stewardship dinner this past weekend for another organization that I am a part of, and I heard a fantastic story about a grandfather and his grand-daughters at Christmas. Here is a truncated version for you:

The grandfather asked the girls what they would like for their gift, and after much discussion they decided upon a globe, because they had been studying geography in school and they really enjoyed the globe in their classroom. So, grandpa went shopping, found a really nice globe, and had it wrapped all fancy for the holiday.When the girls opened the gift on Christmas morning, they were visibly underwhelmed. Later that day, the grandfather asked the girls what was wrong with the gift. They hesitantly told him that while the globe they got was very nice and they were grateful for it, the one at their school was much cooler. “It plugs into the wall and lights up and it’s just so amazing!”

Grandfather decided to remedy the situation the next day, braving the after-Christmas crowds and going to multiple stores to find the globe of their dreams. He found one that fit the bill, once again had it expertly wrapped, and delivered it to his grand-daughters. They opened it, and immediately took him into their parents’ walk-in-closet, which had an electrical outlet, and could be made dark enough to really enjoy the globe.

So, what did the grandfather learn that day? A lighted world costs more.

If you want a world that is dark, unhappy, lonely, unwelcoming, and prejudiced, all it takes is neglect. A world of light, happiness, family, acceptance, and love costs more. That doesn’t necessarily mean money, but it does take care.

Resounding Achord’s outreach program for High School Honor Choir Scholarships is the perfect example of this. We are trying to spread light throughout our community by supporting students who wouldn’t normally be able to afford the enlightening experience of singing with an Honor Choir. I hope you will support us by attending our Musicale Fundraiser this Saturday, October 7, at 8 PM. Tickets are still available!

If you are unable to attend this fun event, please consider making a direct tax-deductible donation to help us support these deserving students.

Why Honor Choirs?

Why Honor Choirs?

By Kristina Nakagawa, Artistic Director, Resounding Achord 

Resounding Achord received a lovely shout-out in the recent Fall 2017 edition of The California Choral Director’s Association Cantate Magazine. Molly Peters, CCDA Honor Choir Chair, wrote a fantastic article, “The How–and Why–of Honor Choirs.” Ms. Peters said, “We are happy to offer scholarships for a select number of students participating…thanks to a generous donation from Resounding Achord, directed by Kristina Nakagawa.” Thanks for the recognition, Molly!

Reading deeper into the article, there are some wonderful quotes from teachers from all over California about the benefits of the honor choir experience, not only for the participants, but also for the rest of the singers in their choirs. Educators mentioned the following specific benefits:

  • Working on an art song at the start of the year helps to found a healthy unison sound.
  • “I get to know their voices better.”
  • The students have such a great experience, and they come back and tell the other kids about it.
  • “Honor choir is a place where our students get a chance to use all of the stuff we teach in our classroom, and they can finally realize that it doesn’t have anything to do with us (their teacher), it’s about music.”

These benefits, along with many others, are why we at Resounding Achord are so passionate about our Honor Choir Scholarships. We love helping students to be their best and experience the best in the incredible unique setting of an honor choir.

If you’d like to help us in this endeavor, you can always donate directly – paypal.me/resoundingachord

OR, you can attend our upcoming Musicale Fundraiser!

Supporting the Decision Makers of the Future

Supporting the Decision Makers of the Future

By Kristina Nakagawa, Artistic Director, Resounding Achord 

An article (Trained Musicians Make Better Decisions” by Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard) was sent to me by a Resounding Achord alum, and it couldn’t be more perfect for this week. Here at Resounding Achord Productions, we are gearing up for our first-ever fundraiser on October 7. All funds raised from this variety-show-style evening will go directly to our high school regional and all-state honor choir scholarship outreach programs. The event will include performances from past scholarship recipients, along with current singers and friends of Resounding Achord. For more information, visit us here: A Musicale Fundraiser.

Many parents and teachers are well aware of the benefits of music training for children. This study from a team at the University of Texas-Austin suggests that families might consider holding off on music training until later in childhood, due to the development process of the brain’s prefrontal cortex. The study also theorizes that “The music classes offered during many children’s elementary and high-school education in America may result in improved decision-making ability as an adult.”

Personally, I believe that children and students of all ages should be exposed to and experience music firsthand. They should play in music, they should listen to music, they should live in music. As a parent, I resonate with the suggestion to not start more technical or “serious” musical training until the child is ready, or even until they ask for it! Anyone who was ever forced to practice their musical skills when they were young would likely tell you the same. However, these same people will also tell you the regret they feel that they didn’t continue with their music practice. Perhaps by waiting for instruction until age 8 or later, we can keep and preserve the joy of music throughout our lives?

The good news: many of the students in our musical outreach programs are just starting their journeys as musicians. I can only hope that by supporting them through our scholarship outreach program that we are helping to create the most advanced critical thinkers and problem solvers of the future. We are surely going to need their help.