Updated: Jun 12, 2020
By Brad Dumont and Will Gunn.
As part of New Hampshire Master Chorale's ongoing community work, MC singer Brad Dumont joined MC singer Will Gunn's high school classroom in Plymouth, NH to explore part of this weekend's program with the 40 students in the select chorus.
During the hour and fifteen minute workshop, the students learned a section of Into the Light by Jake Runestad using text by Rabindranath Tagore. The complete text is:
I shed my words on the earth as the tree sheds its leaves. Let my thoughts unspoken flower into kindness.
Runestad set this piece of text as a round, a melody that can be sung repeatedly and layered over itself, and the students learned the song by rote (by ear) instead of from a piece of sheet music.
To bring the students further into the text, Brad led a series of activities to explore the meaning of the piece, build comfort with the melody, and discuss what impact the text could have. After playing an improv game where students had to reflect physical group postures of despair vs. hope to symbolize changes in attitude, they were asked to compose their own lyrics to the song that might reflect a sense of openness and freedom.
The students then bravely performed their texts for each other, singing their new words while other students droned a harmony. One student named Cade wrote two new versions of text and shared both of them with us to include here:
Look now where the kingdom breathes
As the rain turns to snow
Winter's calm and gentle mourning
Gives us hope to grow
This is where I will be
Under soft soothing waves
Back and forth the sea's arms take me
Back and forth it brings me home
- Cade Earick, PRHS Student
At the end of the class we asked students to reflect on their experiences improvising, harmonizing, moving, and creating something quickly to be shared. Students who sang their compositions said that they were nervous and anxious to share, but really glad to have done so once they had finished.
"At first I was scared, but once I had shared it I felt so good!"
Other students said the activities opened up new ways for them to understand the text and the idea of hope, offering new perspectives for reflection. Other students shared that it was the first time they had created a melody like this before and would enjoy trying it again even though it was difficult to be so transparent in front of their peers. They knew that Mr. Gunn's classroom would be a welcoming environment to try this kind of creative exploration.
Along with the workshop at PRHS, students in Peterborough, NH also used this round today for creative exercises with MC singer/teacher Krystal Morin. We love seeing this music spread straight from the choir and into the classrooms!
Saturday, June 15 at 7:00PM - First Congregational Church: 177 N. Main St, Concord, NH
Sunday, June 16 at 4PM - Plymouth Congregational Church: 4 Post Office Square, Plymouth, NH
The New Hampshire Master Chorale, led by Dr. Dan Perkins, is a non-profit choir established in the spring of 2003. This premier chamber ensemble is dedicated to excellence in the art of choral music performance. Members of the group are trained singers, auditioned from throughout New England, who have performed as soloists and in choral ensembles throughout the world. You can get a taste of the NHMC on our SoundCloud page: soundcloud.com/nh-master-chorale or find us on facebook and twitter: www.facebook.com/NHMasterChorale and twitter.com/nhmasterchorale.
Tickets available at nhmasterchorale.org and at the door — $30 general, $25 senior, $15 group of 10+
Free admission for undergraduates and students in grades K–12.
The New Hampshire Master Chorale also utilizes a “Pay What You Are Able” ticket policy so that anyone can attend regardless of financial ability. We welcome all donations to support this.