A “Sound Mind” For The Ear: The One Voice Mixed Chorus In Concert

Photo courtesy of One Voice Mixed Chorus
Photo courtesy of One Voice Mixed Chorus

If you want to essence of One Voice Mixed Chorus, understand how Creative Director Jane Ramseyer Miller has been on the forefront of developing vocal ensemble performance and programming through the art and music they are well known for. 

Years ago, she put the chorus’ mission statement up in front of the choir. Their mission statement reads: “Building community and creating social change by raising our voices in song” 

Ramseyer Miller asked the chorus to brainstorm where they should be singing in order to fulfill their mission. “Out of that conversation came the image that we need to be singing in places where we are not comfortable,” explained Ramseyer MIller. “A few years later I was speaking to delegates at a North American-wide GALA (Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses) event and issued a challenge for queer choruses to not only sing in their own concert halls for friends and family, but to get out into their communities and sing in places where they are uncomfortable.”

Not just in physical places, but also in subject matter. 

This is why Once Voice Mixed Chorus will be performing their latest concert cycle, “Sound Mind” at the Ordway Concert Hall on June 18th and 19th

According to Mitch Fantin, the Executive Director of One Voice Mixed Chorus, The music of “Sound Mind” “showcases five Minnesota composers, One Voice commissions, stories of resilience, and original art projected around the concert hall. Cellist Lars Ortiz is our featured soloist and guest artist. Interactive lobby activities start 30 minutes before each concert including hands-on art creation and writing your own mental health mantra.”

“The LGBTQ+ community navigates unique mental health challenges and disparities associated with belonging, support, and resources,” explained Fantin.” These trends have only been exacerbated during COVID. Our goal with Sound Mind is to lift up LGBTQ+ voices and experiences, particularly as they relate to our resilience, with an emphasis on community.”

Ramseyer Miller adds that “Sound Mind” will also include “familiar tunes like ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’ and ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music’.” Among the new commissions performed by One Voice Mixed Chorus will be one that honors trans women called “We Hold Your Names Sacred”.

The concert atmosphere will be unique to most audiences. That is unless you have been to other One Voice Mixed Chorus concerts. They offer more than just the performance itself. Ramseyer Miller adds that “from the minute audiences enter the Ordway lobby you’ll have a chance to dive into the theme of the concert by creating art or designing your own mental health ‘mantra’ to post in the lobby.”

While it is not the first time One Voice Mixed Chorus has performed in a hall, such as the Ordway, Ramseyer Miller will tell you that the chorus “spends as much time performing in the community as we do in the fancy concert halls.” She adds that “audiences tell me that the passion of One Voice singers is palpable in the audience. All of our music is memorized, that the stories connect with experiences of our audience members.”

The essence of the One Voice Mixed Chorus is within the choir and performers themselves. Every theme this chorus takes on in every concert cycle becomes a personal journey amongst its members. “A few days ago,” Ramseyer Miller explained, “I was talking with a composer of the song Voices to see if we could re-work his instrumental part for cello. In that conversation he shared that he is bi-polar, but the publisher of the song didn’t want him to include that information in his score intro. That’s just one example of the kind of stigma about mental illness that is so present today. Then he also shared that the song was written for one of his best friends who was gay. He is so excited because this will be the first time that this song will be performed by a queer chorus.”

Getting to this concert cycle has not been easy for the One Voice Mixed Chorus. The COVID-19 pandemic created challenges that had delayed performance and altered the way they rehearsed and practiced their music. Fantin explained that “One Voice has centered safety and community, both for our singers and audiences, throughout the pandemic. We have rehearsed with comprehensive safety measures in place, ranging from mask and vaccine requirements to in-person and virtual hybrid rehearsals to serious guidelines around convening in spaces with state-of-the-art ventilation and distancing options.”

The result of this preparation for this concert should be evident come June 18th at The Ordway. If need a performance during Pride Month that challenges your ears, mind, and soul, count on One Voice Mixed Chorus to deliver musical excellence through their mission and message to our community. A ticket to this performance will do wonders for our community – and for you. 

“Sound Mind” by One Voice Mixed Chorus
Ordway Concert Hall, Saint Paul, MN
June 18 at 7:30 PM
June 19 at 3:00 PM
For tickets, log on to https://www.onevoicemn.org/sound-mind1/

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