THE TOP TEN WAYS WE WORKED TO REFLECT  THE BEST OF HUMANITY IN 2018-2019

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A true reflection of the best of humanity every time.
— Mimi Sei, Audience Member

At the end of August last year, we asked Resonance supporter Mimi Sei if we could publish her beautiful quote in our soon-to-be-printed season brochure.  "Of course!" she said. "I just love what I experience at your concerts! Please feel free to share my words." 

That conversation doesn't seem so long ago. On Sunday, June 9th we closed our final performance of Intensive Care at the beautiful Cerimon House, and looked back at this season, which produced 4 concerts - 3 of which were sellouts- 5 premieres and countless relationships. It has been quite a year. 

Women Singing Women , February 2019  (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

Women Singing Women, February 2019 (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

In keeping with the celebration of this tenth season and Mimi's sentiment, we thought it would be an interesting exercise to describe ten ways Resonance Ensemble worked to “truly reflect the best of humanity” this year. 

THE TOP TEN WAYS RESONANCE ENSEMBLE WORKED TO REFLECT  THE BEST OF HUMANITY IN 2018-2019

  1. Programming with Purpose. This year we were awarded a year of monthly meetings with Arts & Culture consultant George Thorn through RACC’s Cultural Leadership Program. Through this work with George we have been given the tools we need to build on the shift in our mission focus, organizational development and long range strategic planning. Consequently, our 2018-19 season started with a strong board of directors, a clear plan, and a season of concerts that intentionally addressed themes highlighting diverse solo and choral voices, new and underrepresented composers, visual and other performing arts, and community partners. 

Derrick McDuffey conducts professional gospel ensemble, Kingdom Sound. — October 2018 ( Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

Derrick McDuffey conducts professional gospel ensemble, Kingdom Sound. — October 2018 (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

Building Community.  Our season opened with our first Giltner House fundraising party! In September a houseful of Resonance supporters enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and drinks and enjoyed special performances by Resonance artists, up close and personal. This kickoff to our tenth season was held at the one-of-a-kind Giltner House, a historic home restored by host John McCullough, who continues the tradition begun by its original owners almost a century ago: supporting arts and culture in our community.

Giltner House Fundraiser — September 2018  (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

Giltner House Fundraiser — September 2018 (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

3. Amplifying Voices of Color.  In October Resonance featured music that spoke to the lived experiences of racial inequality in the United States at the oldest A.M.E black church in Oregon, Bethel A.M.E.. This concert included the world premiere of Damien Geter’s first movement of An African American Requiem, which we will premiere in 2019-2020 season. (Stay tuned for an upcoming exciting announcement!)

BRAVO Youth Orchestra performs at our HIDDEN VOICES concert at Bethel A.M.E. Church — October 2018  (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

BRAVO Youth Orchestra performs at our HIDDEN VOICES concert at Bethel A.M.E. Church — October 2018 (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

4. Tangible Connection.  We’re talking to you, Reverend Terry McCray and Bethel A.M.E. Church, BRAVO Youth Orchestras, Derrick McDuffey and Kingdom Sound, pianists Kira Whiting and David Saffert, Resonance Poet in Residence S. Renee Mitchell, Randall Stuart and Cerimon House, guest artist Maria Karlin, composers Melissa Dunphy, Ben Kinkley, Renee Favand-See, Stacey Phillips, Joan Szymko, and Stephen Caldwell, flutist Sarah Tiedemann, and Portland Percussion Project. 

Maria Karlin sings her arrangement of Suzanne Vega’s  Blood Makes Noise —February 2019  (Photo Credit Rachel Hadiashar)

Maria Karlin sings her arrangement of Suzanne Vega’s Blood Makes Noise—February 2019 (Photo Credit Rachel Hadiashar)

5. Amplifying Women’s Voices. In February Resonance embarked on an exploration of music by women about their experiences as women in our second concert of the season, Women Singing Women. The afternoon included the world premiere of a new commission, LISTEN, from award-winning composer Melissa Dunphy, with texts by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Prof. Anita Hill. 

The women of Resonance at Cerimon House for  Women Singing Women , February 2019  (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

The women of Resonance at Cerimon House for Women Singing Women, February 2019 (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

6. Offering Encore Performances of Important Music. When we debuted Women Singing Women in February, the concert was sold out with a substantial waiting list. It was clear to the Resonance Ensemble Board that this music needed a second performance. We were truly delighted to be able to present it a second time in May to yet another sold out crowd. 

Artistic Director, Katherine FitzGibbon  (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

Artistic Director, Katherine FitzGibbon (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

7. Fully funding our Crowdsourcing Campaign for our First CD! Celebrating our 10th season was the perfect excuse to focus on the launch of our first CD, "LISTEN."  Hours in the recording studio created the music, but we needed help with production and were overwhelmed at the response to our ask. It was with great amounts of gratitude that we announced at our final concert that through the support of our Kickstarter campaign, we have produced the music we worked so hard to record. 

Intensive Care Concert — June 2019 ( Photo Credit Rachel Hadiashar )

Intensive Care Concert — June 2019 (Photo Credit Rachel Hadiashar)

8. Tackling Challenging Subject Matters. Our final performance of our season reflected on all whose early days of parenthood are different than envisioned -- with babies born early, babies sick, babies lost. Several of us in the Resonance family have experienced these challenges, and experienced them together. Damien Geter offered an incredibly moving world premiere of The Talk: Instructions for Black Children When They Interact with the Police. Long-time Resonance artist Ben Kinkley premiered the song he wrote for his son Gabe on that concert. And we gave the West Coast premiere of composer Stephen Caldwell’s moving work, Pre-Existing Condition, written to honor his son’s birth with a congenital heart defect, setting original texts and poems by ee cummings. We revisited our 2014 commision from Renee Favand-See, Only in Falling, setting poems of Wendell Berry in memory of her beloved infant son Owen.

Poet in Residence S. Renee Mitchell performs with the choir for the world premiere of Damien Geter’s piece  The Talk: Instructions for Black Children When They Interact with the Police. (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

Poet in Residence S. Renee Mitchell performs with the choir for the world premiere of Damien Geter’s piece The Talk: Instructions for Black Children When They Interact with the Police. (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

Katherine Fitzgibbon with her award from Chorus America. — June 2019

Katherine Fitzgibbon with her award from Chorus America. — June 2019

9. Receiving Awards for Important Work. On June 27, 2019, Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon took the stage in Philadelphia to be recognized by Chorus America as she received the Louis Botto Award for Innovative and Entrepreneurial Zeal. Ongoing proof of the national recognition we are receiving for our work.

10. Looking to the Future. The work goes on.  As we get ready to announce our 2019-2020 season, we continue to make connections that will allow us to fulfill the work of our mission on a grander scale in the years to come. We are grateful to all of you for your support and participation in Resonance’s mission. 

Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon and Board Member and composer/artist Damien Geter at a 2018-19 Resonance Gratitude event — June 2019  (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon and Board Member and composer/artist Damien Geter at a 2018-19 Resonance Gratitude event — June 2019 (Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar)

Our LISTEN Album project is 100% Funded!

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THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!


With your help, our LISTEN album is now 100% funded on Kickstarter! As a thank you to our supporters, we offer $10 off to EVERYONE (you, and you, and you!) for the next 24 hours!

Buy your tickets for our June 9th performance of Intensive Care —Expecting Love, Learning Hope before midnight tomorrow night (5/31/2019) and get $10 off general admission pricing! Simply head over to our website, click "tickets" and enter promo codeGOALZin the "Have a code?" section.

And of course, since we still have two days to go before the Kickstarter campaign is over - there is still time for you to donate and be a part of this wonderful album's creation! (Every dollar helps!)

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

#ONESIPFOREVERYDONATION

We are so grateful to you for your support of Resonance Ensemble.

For more information please reply to this email, visit our Kickstarter page hereor contact our Kickstarter organizer below. 

Kickstarter Organizer: 
Liz Bacon Brownson
Board Member, Resonance Ensemble
resonancechoral.org
Email: liz@ohcreativepdx.com

 

This is Resonance Music. We invite you to listen.
— Katherine FitzGibbon, Artistic Director

PRESS RELEASE – INTENSIVE CARE - expecting love • learning hope

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Profound. Moving. Deeply nourishing. — Sally Retecki, Audience Member

Resonance Ensemble presents “INTENSIVE CARE,”
featuring the west coast premiere of
Stephen Caldwell’s PRE-EXISTING CONDITION
as well as release of Resonance Ensemble’s debut album, LISTEN.  


PORTLAND, OR — On Sunday, June 9th at 4 PM, Resonance Ensemble will close its 2018-19 season with a concert tackling a situation many face. Join Resonance Ensemble at Cerimon House in a performance reflecting on all whose early days of parenthood are different than envisioned -- with babies born early, babies sick, babies lost. Often invisible stories, they are also stories mixed with hope and transformational love.

In this concert, Resonance Ensemble will give the West Coast premiere of Stephen Caldwell’s Pre-existing Condition, composed to honor his own son’s birth with a congenital heart defect. Caldwell sets original texts about his experience, as well as tender poetry by ee cummings. The choir will also revisit Renee Favand-See’s deeply personal Only in Falling, setting poems of Wendell Berry in memory of her beloved infant son Owen.

“I hope everyone can join us for this afternoon of exceptional music where we will hold space for all the parents and families who have experienced the welcoming of a child through the chaos of ERs and extended ICU stays, as well as families who have lost a child.” says Artistic Director Dr. Katherine FitzGibbon. “These are certainly heavy themes but ones that contain stories of hope through the fear, love through the grief. We are all transformed when we bear witness to the courageous stories of others.”  

Other notable moments will include:

  • Q & A after the concert with Resonance Ensemble’s Artistic Director Kathy FitzGibbon and other artists on the program.

  • Portland writer and Resonance Poet in Residence, S. Renee Mitchell, performing an original poem written especially for the concert.

  • Performances by accomplished flutist, Sarah Tiedemann, and the Portland Percussion Group.

  • Portland favorite Kira Whiting on piano.

The concert also marks the release of Resonance Ensemble’s debut album, LISTEN, featuring many of the ensemble’s favorite pieces, including the world premiere recordings of Favand-See’s Only In Falling as well as the recently commissioned work of Melissa Dunphy, LISTEN, setting the courageous Senate testimony of Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford.

“When we perform these new works, there is an invitation to feel our shared humanity and our connection with one another.” says FitzGibbon, “Witnessing transformation heals the creative artist, the performers, and the audience. It is a powerfully inspiring thing. I hope everyone can join us on June 9th.”

Resonance Ensemble Presents: INTENSIVE CARE
WHEN: Sunday, June 9 | 4 pm
WHERE: Cerimon House — 5131 NE 23rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97211

COST:
$30 GENERAL ADMISSION
$25 SENIOR
$15 STUDENT/ARTIST
$5 ARTS FOR ALL

TICKETS: resonancechoral.org/intensivecare


Note to Journalists: Katherine FitzGibbon, Stephen Caldwell, and Renee Favand-See are available for print, online, and broadcast interviews. If you would like more information on this event or would like to schedule an interview, please contact Liz Bacon Brownson at liz@ohcreativepdx.com or by calling 971-212-8034

About the Resonance Ensemble 2018-19 season:

In its tenth season, Resonance Ensemble, a professional vocal ensemble based in Portland, Oregon, creates thoughtful programs that promote meaningful social change. Resonance Ensemble works to amplify voices that have long been silenced, and they do so through moving, thematic concerts that highlight solo and choral voices, new and underrepresented composers, visual and other performing artists, and community partners.


Resonance Ensemble’s outstanding musicians give voice to the concerns, hopes, and dreams of all communities. Their concerts reflect this in the themes that reside in HIDDEN VOICES (October 2018), WOMEN SINGING WOMEN (February 2019), and INTENSIVE CARE (JUNE 2019).


Under Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon, Resonance Ensemble has performed challenging and diverse music, always with an eye toward unusual collaborations with artistic partners from around Portland: poets, jazz musicians, singer-songwriters, painters, dancers. The Resonance singers are “one of the Northwest’s finest choirs” (Willamette Week), with gorgeous vocal tone, and they also make music with heart.


For more information:

Website:/resonancechoral.org

Facebook: /resonanceensemblepdx

Instagram:/resonanceensemblepdx

Twitter: /resonanceensemblepdx

Hashtag: #HearUsRoar



About Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon:

Katherine FitzGibbon is Artistic Director of Portland’s professional Resonance Ensemble, called “one of the finest choirs in the Northwest” by Willamette Week. With Resonance, she has collaborated with the Portland Art Museum, Artists Repertory Theatre, Third Angle New Music, Portland Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Lauderdale and Hunter Noack, the Chuck Israels Jazz Orchestra, the Oregon Poet Laureate, and local actors, composers, visual artists, and dancers. Resonance partners with local artists and community organizations to explore questions of equity and inclusion.


Dr. FitzGibbon was just named the winner of the 2019 Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal. Given periodically by Chorus America, the nation’s premier organization supporting the advancement of choral music today, the Louis Botto Award recognizes a mid-career choral leader for her exceptional work in developing a professional choral ensemble. An independent panel selected Dr. FitzGibbon to receive the award, which will be presented at Chorus America’s 2019 Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to be held June 26-29.

Dr. FitzGibbon is also Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music at Lewis & Clark College. In 2014, she was an inaugural winner of the Lorry Lokey Faculty Excellence Award, honoring “inspired teaching, rigorous scholarship, demonstrated leadership, and creative accomplishments.” A faculty member at the summertime Berkshire Choral Festival, Dr. FitzGibbon has also conducted choirs at Harvard, Boston, Cornell, and Clark Universities, and at the University of Michigan. She is a lyric soprano and music historian whose research on German choral music and politics has been presented and published internationally.


About Stephen Caldwell

Dr. Stephen Caldwell is the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Arkansas, and conducts both the nationally-renowned Schola Cantorum and Women’s Chorus. His original, award-winning compositions and arrangements have been performed throughout the world including, “Since We Loved,” a piece that Resonance will premiere on their next concert.  The 20-min work for choir and instruments depicts the emotional journey of parents who have children born with congenital heart defects. The sold-out premiere received a 5-minute standing ovation, and the work was soon after featured by the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association. Dr. Caldwell holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Northern Colorado, two Master of Music Degrees in Vocal Performance and Choral Conducting from Temple University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Rutgers University.

About Renée Favand-See

Renée Favand-See is a composer and soprano who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her works explore the music of words, of natural and made environments, of emotions and spiritual questions. Among her commissions are works for Resonance Ensemble, Five Boroughs Music Festival, Lucy Shelton and Eighth Blackbird, Sequitur, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, American Opera Projects, Wet Ink Ensemble, Outer Voices Festival, coloratura soprano Alissa Rose and cellist Ha-Yang Kim. Other groups who have performed her music include The Julians; Friends of Rain; Electrogals; Del Sol String Quartet; Peabody Trio; and many singers, including Jesse Blumberg, Blythe Gaissert, Anna Haagenson, Jennifer Aylmer, Kristin Norderval, and William Ferguson. Renée is a member of Cascadia Composers and its offshoot of women, Crazy Jane Composers.

Renée has written chamber, orchestral, choral, and electronic pieces, as well as music for video and dance, including collaborations with Ten Tiny Dances in Portland, TRIP Dance Theatre in Los Angeles, Group Motion in Philadelphia and video artist Christine Sciulli in New York City. Her works are featured on Five Borough’s “Five Borough Songbook” on GPR Records; Sequitur’s ”To Have and to Hold” available on Koch, and on Prism Quartet’s “Dedication” on Innova.

Renée holds B.M. and M.M. degrees in composition from the Eastman and Yale Schools of Music, respectively. Renée teaches music composition and theory at Portland State University and for summer programs including Young Musicians and Artists (YMA) and The Walden School.

About Resonance Poet in Residence S. Renee Mitchell:

Renee Mitchell is a published author, curriculum designer, community activist and multi-media artist. She also is a sur\thriver who has found her life purpose since disentangling from bullying, sexual assault, and domestic violence. After 25 years as an award-winning newspaper journalist - where she was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize - Renee reinvented herself as a Creative Revolutionist; co-founded a culturally specific, drop-in DV resource center; and began gifting her talents to community as a poet, playwright, performer, speaker, teaching artist and self-taught graphic designer in order to create and contribute to empowering projects and programs, community healing ceremonies, plays, songs and books about healing from trauma. Motivated by intention and heart, Renee’s deepest desire is to help others use their creativity to let go, gather up and move on in order to find themselves, their voice, and their place in the world. For more about Ms. Mitchell’s work, visit ReneeMitchellSpeaks.com

About Cerimon House

Cerimon House is a nonprofit arts & humanities organization, and a popular event space located in the heart of the Alberta Arts District of Portland, Oregon. It is a convening space for events that uplift and bring about conversations that inspire. For more information about Cerimon House, visit cerimonhouse.org

###


Portland Choral Director, Dr. Katherine FitzGibbon, Receives Louis Botto Award

Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar

Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar

Portland Choral Director Dr. Katherine FitzGibbon
Receives Prestigious Louis Botto Award from Chorus America

Dr. Katherine FitzGibbon, Artistic Director of Resonance Ensemble, has been named the 2019 recipient of the Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal.

Given periodically by Chorus America, the nation’s premier organization supporting the advancement of choral music today, the Louis Botto Award recognizes a mid-career choral leader for her exceptional work in developing a professional choral ensemble.

Said president and CEO Catherine Dehoney, “Chorus America is thrilled to honor these exceptional choruses and choral leaders who inspire our colleagues and enrich our communities through their outstanding work.”

“As founder and artistic director of Resonance Ensemble, FitzGibbon has captained a bold organizational shift—from its original mission exploring links between music, art, poetry, and theatre, to a new focus exclusively on presenting concerts that promote meaningful social change. Resonance has intentionally diversified the demographics of their board of directors, and engaged a poet-in-residence (S. Renee Mitchell) whose work highlights intersections of marginalized people. FitzGibbon invites community partners (Portland Pride, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Cerimon House, BRAVO Youth Orchestras, Bethel AME Church) into the long-term planning process for each concert, and seeks out venues in Portland’s diverse and under-represented neighborhoods. Under her vision, the organization’s budget has grown almost tenfold since its inception a decade ago, and FitzGibbon has consistently prioritized paying her singers a competitive wage." (taken from the Chorus America Website)

An independent panel selected Dr. FitzGibbon to receive the award, which will be presented at Chorus America’s 2019 Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to be held June 26-29.

For more information about Dr. FitzGibbon and Resonance Ensemble, visit resonancechoral.org
For more information about Chorus America, visit chorusamerica.org

Note to Journalists: Katherine FitzGibbon is available for print, online, and broadcast interviews. If you would like more information on this event or would like to schedule an interview, please contact Liz Bacon Brownson at liz@ohcreativepdx.com or by calling 971-212-8034


About the Resonance Ensemble 2018-19 season:

In its tenth season, Resonance Ensemble, a professional vocal ensemble based in Portland, Oregon, creates thoughtful programs that promote meaningful social change. Resonance Ensemble works to amplify voices that have long been silenced, and they do so through moving, thematic concerts that highlight solo and choral voices, new and underrepresented composers, visual and other performing artists, and community partners.

Resonance Ensemble’s outstanding musicians give voice to the concerns, hopes, and dreams of all communities. Their concerts reflect this in the themes that reside in HIDDEN VOICES (October 2018), WOMEN SINGING WOMEN (February 2019), and INTENSIVE CARE (JUNE 2019).

Under Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon, Resonance Ensemble has performed challenging and diverse music, always with an eye toward unusual collaborations with artistic partners from around Portland: poets, jazz musicians, singer-songwriters, painters, dancers. The Resonance singers are “one of the Northwest’s finest choirs” (Willamette Week), with gorgeous vocal tone, and they also make music with heart.

Writing "LISTEN", an emotional process for composer, Melissa Dunphy

Melissa Dunphy, composer at work.

Melissa Dunphy, composer at work.

Trigger Warning: sexual assault

Melissa Dunphy, composer of LISTEN - commissioned by Resonance for Women Singing Women - shared these thoughts about writing this piece based on the testimony of Prof. Anita Hill and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and how relatable the texts are to her own experiences as a woman.

Dunphy will be at next week's performance, and is participating in the artist talk back session after the concert. We hope you will join us next Sunday, February 3 at 4pm at Cerimon House.

"Writing LISTEN was an emotional process. The first hurdle was deciding which excerpts from the testimonies of Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford to set, which meant reading and listening and living inside these women’s harrowing stories for an extended period. And like most women, the most discomfiting aspect of listening to their testimony is the recognition. When I first heard about Ford’s experience, I was disturbed by its similarity to an incident that happened to me. I went to an all-girls private school, and we sometimes partnered with an all-boys private school for musicals. One night when I was 15, after a performance, while we were still on stage, one of the boys in the musical forcibly put his mouth and tongue on me as I struggled, shocked and horrified. Two days before Ford’s testimony, I posted about this on Facebook, and at least one my school friends remembered it happening, while others knew exactly which boy I was talking about. Something I mentioned in the discussion of the incident was that the worst part was the way he laughed when he saw my disgust and humiliation. So when Ford in her testimony the same week said almost the exact same words about Brett Kavanaugh’s laughter and its impact on her, my blood ran cold. 

As I was finalizing the piece today and going through it for the last time, I started crying. I can count on the fingers of one hand the times this has happened to me while composing. It’s interesting that it most often happens when I’m setting texts for women’s choruses. Something about massed women’s voices is incredibly powerful, both musically and symbolically, at this moment. I also grew up singing in all-girl choruses, so I think there’s something very deep that I identify with in the sound of a treble choir."

- Melissa Dunphy, composer

PRESS RELEASE – Resonance Ensemble presents “Women Singing Women” featuring the world premiere of a major commission by Melissa Dunphy

Katherine FitzGibbon  Artistic Director

Katherine FitzGibbon
Artistic Director

Melissa Dunphy  Award Winning Composer

Melissa Dunphy
Award Winning Composer

S. Renee Mitchell  Poet in Residence

S. Renee Mitchell
Poet in Residence

Resonance Ensemble presents “Women Singing Women” featuring the world premiere of a major commission by Melissa Dunphy

PORTLAND, OR — On Sunday, February 3rd at 4 PM, Resonance Ensemble embarks on an exploration of music by women about their experiences as women, including the world premiere of a new commission by Melissa Dunphy. Join Resonance Ensemble at Cerimon House for WOMEN SINGING WOMEN, a concert of audacious new music by female composers celebrating the experiences, questions, autonomy, and generally kick-ass nature of women. 

The afternoon is dedicated to music made by women, spotlighting works by female composers and poets. Featured composers include Suzanne Vega, Carol Barnett, Lori Laitman, Ysaye Barnwell, Joan Szymko, and more.

“Last summer, Resonance had already announced this February’s concert celebrating women’s voices. But this fall, watching the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and thinking about the ways women are often not heard, not believed, and even threatened and maligned for speaking out, I wanted Resonance to create a musical opportunity for audiences to reflect on the ways our culture often dismisses women’s points of views,” Artistic Director Dr. Katherine FitzGibbon recalls. Dr. FitzGibbon was inspired to reach out to award-winning composer Melissa Dunphy, known to Resonance audiences for her brilliant works American DREAMers and What Do You Think I Fought for at Omaha Beach. Ms. Dunphy accepted the commission, and has been writing a new work, LISTEN, setting texts from Senate testimony given by Prof. Anita Hill and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. The work will be premiered at this concert and then recorded for Resonance’s forthcoming album, to be released in June.

“Over the years, women composers have often been neglected when it comes to recognition in concert programming and other inclusion in music histories,” FitzGibbon says. “With this concert, Resonance shines a light on the work of women composers and poets. These artists bring our attention to women’s experiences in society, ranging from oppression and minimization to empowerment and success.”

Other notable moments will include:

  • Q & A after the concert with Katherine FitzGibbon, Melissa Dunphy, and other artists on the program.

  • Portland writer and Resonance Poet in Residence, S. Renee Mitchell, performing an original poem written especially for the concert.

  • Maria Karlin from Portland’s favorite Spaghetti-Western and Film Scoring band, Federale, performing an original arrangement of Suzanne Vega’s “Blood Makes Noise.”

  • Portland favorite Kira Whiting on piano.

Says FitzGibbon, “I hope everyone will join us to listen closely and celebrate the tremendous contributions women artists have made.”

Resonance Ensemble’s 2018-2019 season is funded in part by the Regional Arts & Culture Council

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WHEN: Sunday, February 3 | 4 pm
WHERE: Cerimon House — 5131 NE 23rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97211
COST:
$30 GENERAL ADMISSION
$25 SENIOR
$15 STUDENT/ARTIST
$5 ARTS FOR ALL

TICKETS: resonancechoral.org/womensingingwomen

Note to Journalists: Katherine FitzGibbon and Melissa Dunphy are available for print, online, and broadcast interviews. If you would like more information on this event or would like to schedule an interview, please contact Liz Bacon Brownson at liz@ohcreativepdx.com or by calling 971-212-8034

About the Resonance Ensemble 2018-19 season:

In its tenth season, Resonance Ensemble, a professional vocal ensemble based in Portland, Oregon, creates thoughtful programs that promote meaningful social change. Resonance Ensemble works to amplify voices that have long been silenced, and they do so through moving, thematic concerts that highlight solo and choral voices, new and underrepresented composers, visual and other performing artists, and community partners.

Resonance Ensemble’s outstanding musicians give voice to the concerns, hopes, and dreams of all communities. Their concerts reflect this in the themes that reside in HIDDEN VOICES (October 2018), WOMEN SINGING WOMEN (February 2019), and INTENSIVE CARE (JUNE 2019). 

Under Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon, Resonance Ensemble has performed challenging and diverse music, always with an eye toward unusual collaborations with artistic partners from around Portland: poets, jazz musicians, singer-songwriters, painters, dancers. The Resonance singers are “one of the Northwest’s finest choirs” (Willamette Week), with gorgeous vocal tone, and they also make music with heart.

For more information:
Website:/resonancechoral.org
Facebook: /resonanceensemblepdx
Instagram:/resonanceensemblepdx
Twitter: /resonanceensemblepdx
Hashtag: #HearUsRoar

 About Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon:

Katherine FitzGibbon is Artistic Director of Portland’s professional Resonance Ensemble, called “one of the finest choirs in the Northwest” by Willamette Week. With Resonance, she has collaborated with the Portland Art Museum, Artists Repertory Theatre, Third Angle New Music, Portland Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Lauderdale and Hunter Noack, the Chuck Israels Jazz Orchestra, the Oregon Poet Laureate, and local actors, composers, visual artists, and dancers. Resonance is currently partnering with several local arts and community organizations to explore questions of arts equity and inclusion, both in musical programming and in a new series of round table discussions we will present in 2018.

Dr. FitzGibbon is also Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music at Lewis & Clark College. In 2014, she was an inaugural winner of the Lorry Lokey Faculty Excellence Award, honoring “inspired teaching, rigorous scholarship, demonstrated leadership, and creative accomplishments.” A faculty member at the summertime Berkshire Choral Festival, Dr. FitzGibbon has also conducted choirs at Harvard, Boston, Cornell, and Clark Universities, and at the University of Michigan. She is a lyric soprano and music historian whose research on German choral music and politics has been presented and published internationally.

About Melissa Dunphy

Composer Melissa Dunphy specializes in political, vocal, and theatrical music. She first came to national attention when her large‐scale work the Gonzales Cantata was featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, National Review, Fox News, and on The Rachel Maddow Show, and was staged by American Opera Theater in a sold‐out run. Other notable works include the song cycle "Tesla's Pigeon," which won first place in the NATS Art Song Composition Award, and choral work "What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?" which won the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Competition and has been performed by ensembles including Chanticleer and Cantus. Dunphy has been composer‐in‐residence fo the Immaculata Symphony Orchestra, Volti, and the St. Louis Chamber Chorus. She also composes frequently for theater and is Director of Music Composition for the O'Neill National Puppetry Conference. Dunphy has a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.M. from West Chester University. For more information about Dr. Dunphy, visit melissadunphy.com.

About Resonance Poet in Residence S. Renee Mitchell:

Renee Mitchell is a published author, curriculum designer, community activist and multi-media artist. She also is a sur\thriver who has found her life purpose since disentangling from bullying, sexual assault, and domestic violence. After 25 years as an award-winning newspaper journalist - where she was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize - Renee reinvented herself as a Creative Revolutionist; co-founded a culturally specific, drop-in DV resource center; and began gifting her talents to community as a poet, playwright, performer, speaker, teaching artist and self-taught graphic designer in order to create and contribute to empowering projects and programs, community healing ceremonies, plays, songs and books about healing from trauma. Motivated by intention and heart, Renee’s deepest desire is to help others use their creativity to let go, gather up and move on in order to find themselves, their voice, and their place in the world. For more about Ms. Mitchell’s work, visit ReneeMitchellSpeaks.com

About Cerimon House

Cerimon House is a nonprofit arts & humanities organization, and a popular event space located in the heart of the Alberta Arts District of Portland, Oregon. It is a convening space for events that uplift and bring about conversations that inspire. For more information about Cerimon House, visit cerimonhouse.org

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You Make This Vital Work Possible.

Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar

Photo Credit: Rachel Hadiashar

Dear Resonance Supporter,

As Resonance Ensemble celebrates its tenth season, I’ve been reflecting on how we’ve stayed true to our founding ideals, and at the same time evolved in a way I couldn’t have anticipated a decade ago.  

In a city rich with great art, Resonance Ensemble is unique. Our concerts are thoughtfully programmed to reflect our times from a variety of often-neglected viewpoints. We collaborate with artists who create for the world in which we live — artists like Resonance Poet in Residence S. Renee Mitchell, who writes a thought-provoking poem for each concert, each one stunningly beautiful and perfectly capturing the essence of themes of the show. Artists like Damien Geter, Resonance singer and composer, who is working on his powerful African American Requiem, to be premiered next season by Resonance Ensemble. Artists like composer Melissa Dunphy, whose work you’ve heard in previous concerts, and who is writing a specially commissioned piece for our February 2019 concert, Women Singing Women

Your contributions help us touch lives. Anyone who seeks a meaningful artistic experience will find it with Resonance Ensemble, whether as a singer, a collaborator, or an audience member.

You make this vital work possible. Ticket sales cover a fraction of our costs. Every dollar you give directly supports our performances and our mission.

Your gift to Resonance can be used in many ways. For example:

  • Your donation of $50 pays for sheet music for one piece performed at a concert.

  • Your donation of $350 pays the fee for an artist for one of our concerts.

  • Your donation of $4,000 pays for the commission of a new work.

Please send your gift today. Resonance Ensemble relies on your support. We are committed to using music as a way to better understand other perspectives, and to inspire positive change in our community. Your donation makes our community better. Right here. Right now.

Along with our artists, staff, and board, I thank you for your generous partnership and support.

Sincerely,

Katherine FitzGibbon, Artistic Director
Resonance Ensemble

ARE YOU LISTENING

On October 21, 2018, Resonance Ensemble's Poet in Residence, S. Renee Mitchell premiered this original work at HIDDEN VOICES, the opening concert of our tenth season. The concert took place at Bethel A.M.E. church, the oldest continuously operating black church in Portland, Oregon.

photo credit:  Rachel Hadiashar

photo credit: Rachel Hadiashar

This afternoon - we are here -  here together
And together, we will dream
Dream of our community becoming better
It is so much better when we listen
Listen to recognize yourself in the other
Recognize yourself in someone else’s pain
Someone else’s laughter  - struggles -  singing
Singing in spite of their struggles
Rising in spite of the ache
Are you listening?

This afternoon, the vibrations of our Resonance
Will be deep and provocative
And echoing with hope
Bravo Youth Orchestra will string together a piece of Adoration
Connected to a Price you’ll never pay
Keep listening

Kingdom Sound will be humming with a harmonious anointing
Singing hymns and Negro spirituals
And you will hear words that will move you
Words that will uncover wounds
Wounded words that - just might - disturb and distress you
Keep listening

Keep listening to the words
The words that will be spoken
And the words that will be sung by this ensemble behind me
Words that will - implore - you to think
Think about - what freedom really means
You will hear words that will teach us love indeed
Words that will offer a prayer
A prayer for showers of blessing
Blessings to fall down repeatedly
Fall down on Even Me
Keep listening

Listen to the voices
Voices that reflect the words of children
Undocumented children who walked for miles
Countless miles and endless days
Carrying water to keep de-hydration at bay
Because crossing the border is incredibly
Difficult - dangerous  -  and often deadly
So children are told to keep quiet
Be quiet – don’t talk
Keep quiet so adults could listen
Listen adequately for armed adversaries
And rattlesnakes that hide under rocks
And stinging scorpions whose venom they store in their tails
Can cause numbness and vomiting and convulsions for up to 72 hours
The voices of children within these songs today
Are trying to tell you their story
Keep listening

Keep listening
Because the existence of these youthful voyagers
And their growing presence in our public schools
Should move us to have mercy
Recognize the commonality of their deepest longing
So until then, these songs you will hear this evening are necessary
They - undeniably - speak the truths of these dreamers
Their words will be sung in acapella
And the singing and the  swaying to a certain rhythm
Will re-tell tales of resisting a racist system
Of adjusting - of acclimating - of adapting
Of forgetting native language in order to fit in
Fit in to an unfriendly and foreign land
To a point where these children’s
Smiles, their laughter, their cultural dances
Their claps and their twists - as if picking limes
Become spiritual acts of defiance
Against hostile words both spoken and imagined:

Go back home, illegals. You don’t belong here.

Aqui estamos
Here we are
We are here
Here, where we belong
Are you listening

Listen - listen to the makings of an African American requiem
An original musical act of remembrance
Of the history America tries - so hard-  to forget
Listen to words that will remind you
Of how much emancipation actually cost
The black lives that matter
But are – even today - continuously lost
Not just lost - But taken
Historically hung by the neck and then barbecued at picnics
With smiling white children serving as intergenerational witnesses
Intoxicated with the nostalgic aroma of hate
And indoctrinated to mindlessly press repeat
Generation after generation after generation
Keep listening
Keep listening
Because Damien has weaved black trauma
Into a stunning orchestral score
And as a member of “one of Oregon’s most valuable musical resources”
Has created an opportunity to have some of the city’s best voices
Sing so sweetly about the casualties of
The seemingly never-ending war on racism
Keep listening – Please, keep listening
Listen to words about how difficult it is sometimes just to breathe
Keep listening  -  Lean in - And listen
Because these words are intended to move you
Move you closer toward our shared humanity
We are teaching you
To travel with us into deep rivers
And not drown from heartbreak
Are you listening

Will you stand by me
Despite my faults and my failures
Will you understand
The times when I need to just catch my breath
Will you watch with me
As the storm passes over
Will you look closely
To make sure your actions – your beliefs – and your politics
Reflect the world we all say we want to see
The world where each one of us
Gets to experience what freedom actually means
Will you hear our hidden voices?
Will you pay attention to the chorus of possibilities
It is all we ask

Are you listening?

© 2018 S. Renee Mitchell

20181021-Hadiashar191.jpg

ABOUT S. RENEE MITCHELL

S. Renee Mitchell, POET IN RESIDENCE, is a published author, curriculum designer, community activist and multi-media artist. She also is a sur\thriver who has found her life purpose since disentangling from bullying, sexual assault and domestic violence. After 25 years as an award-winning newspaper journalist - where she was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize - Renee reinvented herself as a Creative Revolutionist; co-founded a culturally specific, drop-in DV resource center; and began gifting her talents to community as a poet, playwright, performer, speaker, teaching artist and self-taught graphic designer in order to create and contribute to empowering projects and programs, community healing ceremonies, plays, songs and books about healing from trauma. Motivated by intention and heart, Renee’s deepest desire is to help others use their creativity to let go, gather up and move on in order to find themselves, their voice, and their place in the world. You can find out more about Renee’s work at ReneeMitchellSpeaks.com.

Resonance Ensemble announces its 2018-2019 Season!

Event banner-Hidden Voices.jpg
Event banner_women.jpg
Event banner-Intensive Care.jpg

For immediate release: — September 19, 2018
Email: info@resonancechoral.org
Web:
resonancechoral.org
Media Contact— Liz Bacon Brownson
Phone: 971-212-8034

A true reflection of the best of humanity every time.
— Mimi Sei, Audience Member

Resonance Ensemble announces its tenth season, featuring programming that reflects our times.

PORTLAND, OR — Resonance Ensemble announces its upcoming tenth anniversary season, with an emphasis on new music that highlights underrepresented perspectives. The season will consist of a fundraising concert event, RESONANCE AT THE GILTNER HOUSE, on September 29, 2018; HIDDEN VOICES on October 21, 2018; WOMEN SINGING WOMEN on February 3, 2019; and INTENSIVE CARE on June 9, 2019.

Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon says, “I am delighted to announce that we will present major premieres at every concert this season.”

  • In our opening concert, Hidden Voices, we will give the world premiere of a movement from bass-baritone and composer Damien Geter’s forthcoming Requiem. This piece is based on the quotes of African-American men killed by police; the full work will be premiered by Resonance next season. Hidden Voices also includes the West Coast premiere of Melissa Dunphy’s American Dreamers, with texts by five young Americans who came to the U.S. as undocumented children.

  • In our February concert, Women Singing Women, we will give the world premiere of a new work by Portland composer Joan Szymko.

  • Intensive Care will feature the West Coast premiere of Stephen Caldwell’s Pre-existing Condition, composed to honor Caldwell’s own son, who was born with a congenital heart defect. We will also return to the work of Renée Favand-See with the release of our first CD, Only in Falling, showcasing Favand-See’s beautiful music that celebrates the short but precious life of her beloved son, Owen.

Other noteworthy moments of the season:

  • Portland writer and Resonance Ensemble Poet in Residence, S. Renee Mitchell will perform an original work written for each performance.

  • Compositions by local composers

  • Q & A talks after each concert with Resonance Ensemble Artistic Director, composers, and artists.

Resonance Ensemble opens its 2018-2019 season with a benefit concert on Saturday, September 29, 2018 at 7:00 pm. This celebration of the season will be held at the one-of-a-kind Giltner House, a historic home restored by host John McCullough, who continues the tradition begun by its original owners almost a century ago: supporting arts and culture in our community. Attendees will enjoy delicious hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and drinks while mingling with Resonance Ensemble members, along with musical performances, up close and personal. Space is limited. Order individual tickets for $75 at resonancechoral.org -- or become a season subscriber and a ticket is included!

“As always, you can look forward to hearing extraordinary solo and ensemble singers perform diverse repertoire, with heart and passion,” says Dinah Dodds, president of Resonance Ensemble’s Board of Directors and long time supporter of the organization. “We are on a path to making a real difference in our community by offering thoughtful, thematic concerts that work to inspire all of us to think and feel and possibly have a transformational experience as a result.”

HIDDEN VOICES — Uplifting Voices of Color (October 21, 2018, at 4:00 p.m.) is a collaboration with Bethel A.M.E. Church, the oldest continuously operating black church in Portland, and the only African Methodist Episcopal Church in the state of Oregon. Resonance Ensemble will perform with the BRAVO Youth Orchestra and members of the NE-PDX Ensemble, a new regional collective of gospel and spiritual singers. (Bethel A.M.E. Church is located at 5828 NE 8th Avenue, Portland)

WOMEN SINGING WOMEN — Hear Us Roar (February 3, 2019, at 4:00 p.m.) will be performed at the beautiful Cerimon House, and features the women of Resonance Ensemble as they sing audacious new music by female composers. These works celebrate the experiences, questions, autonomy, and generally kick-ass nature of women of all backgrounds and colors. Yes, all women. (Cerimon House is located at 5131 NE  23rd Avenue, Portland)

INTENSIVE CARE — Expecting Love, Learning Hope (June 9, 2019, at 4:00 p.m.) at the Cerimon House closes our season. This concert reflects on parents whose early days of parenthood are different than envisioned -- with babies born early, babies born sick, babies lost. These are often invisible stories, but they are also stories of hope and of transformational love. (Cerimon House is located at 5131 NE  23rd Avenue, Portland)

Season subscriptions are on sale now. Subscription packages offer savings off single ticket prices, exclusive benefits and personalized customer service. Regular full-season subscriptions are available for $150 and include guaranteed tickets to all of the Resonance Ensemble concerts, plus a ticket to the Resonance Ensemble Giltner House Benefit concert on September 29th, 2018. Also available this year are VIP Subscriptions which offer all the subscriber benefits PLUS a guest pass to bring a friend to one of the three exciting concerts of the season, plus reserved seating to all concerts. For more information about subscriptions, visit resonancechoral.org or contact RE’s Box Office, (503) 427-8701. Single tickets are available online to the general public.


CALENDAR

Saturday, September 29th, 2018 — 7:00 p.m.
RESONANCE AT THE GILTNER HOUSE
The Giltner House — 1729 NE Siskiyou Avenue, Portland

Sunday, October 21st, 2018 — 4:00 p.m.
HIDDEN VOICES
Bethel A.M.E. Church — 5828 NE 8th Avenue, Portland

Sunday, February 3rd, 2019 — 4:00 p.m.
WOMEN SINGING WOMEN
Cerimon House — 5131 NE  23rd Avenue, Portland

Sunday, June 9th, 2019 — 4:00 p.m.
INTENSIVE CARE
Cerimon House — 5131 NE  23rd Avenue, Portland


Note to Journalists: Katherine FitzGibbon is available for print, online, and broadcast interviews. If you would like more information on this event or would like to schedule an interview, please contact Liz Bacon Brownson at liz@ohcreativepdx.com or by calling 971-212-8034

About the Resonance Ensemble 2017-18 season:

In its tenth season, Resonance Ensemble, a professional vocal ensemble based in Portland, Oregon, creates thoughtful programs that promote meaningful social change. Resonance Ensemble works to amplify voices that have long been silenced, and they do so through moving, thematic concerts that highlight solo and choral voices, new and underrepresented composers, visual and other performing artists, and community partners.

Resonance Ensemble’s outstanding musicians give voice to the concerns, hopes, and dreams of all communities. Their concerts reflect this in the themes that reside in HIDDEN VOICES (October 2018), WOMEN SINGING WOMEN (February 2019), and INTENSIVE CARE (JUNE 2019).

Under Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon, Resonance Ensemble has performed challenging and diverse music, always with an eye toward unusual collaborations with artistic partners from around Portland: poets, jazz musicians, singer-songwriters, painters, dancers. The Resonance Ensemble singers are “one of the Northwest’s finest choirs” (Willamette Week), with gorgeous vocal tone, and they also make music with heart.

For more information:

Website:/resonancechoral.org
Facebook: /resonanceensemblepdx
Instagram:/resonanceensemblepdx
Twitter: /resonanceensemblepdx

About Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon:

Katherine FitzGibbon is Artistic Director of Portland’s professional Resonance Ensemble, called “one of the finest choirs in the Northwest” by Willamette Week. With Resonance Ensemble, she has collaborated with the Portland Art Museum, Artists Repertory Theatre, Third Angle New Music, Portland Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Lauderdale and Hunter Noack, the Chuck Israels Jazz Orchestra, the Oregon Poet Laureate, and local actors, composers, visual artists, and dancers. Resonance Ensemble is currently partnering with several local arts and community organizations to explore questions of arts equity and inclusion, both in musical programming and in a new series of round table discussions we will present in 2018.

Dr. FitzGibbon is also Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music at Lewis & Clark College. In 2014, she was an inaugural winner of the Lorry Lokey Faculty Excellence Award, honoring “inspired teaching, rigorous scholarship, demonstrated leadership, and creative accomplishments.” A faculty member at the summertime Berkshire Choral Festival, Dr. FitzGibbon has also conducted choirs at Harvard, Boston, Cornell, and Clark Universities, and at the University of Michigan. She is a lyric soprano and music historian whose research on German choral music and politics has been presented and published internationally.


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Love emBodies You – S. Renée Mitchell

On June 24, 2018, Resonance Ensemble's Poet in Residence, S. Renee Mitchell premiered this original work at BODIES, the third and final concert of our ninth season. The concert took place at Cerimon House, in Portland, OR. 

so no matter what was witnessed, whispered, shouted, or scribbled on your locker, lunch bag, note book or desk in that first period math class you hated so much

you do matter 
your body was never invisible
— S. Renee Mitchell, Poet in Residence
Photo Credit: Kenton Waltz

Photo Credit: Kenton Waltz

Love emBodies You
(c) 2018 S. Renee Mitchell

bodies  bodies  bodies
arms    legs      collarbone   shoulder
each limb holds thousands of portals
opportunities really
that all long for the tender touch of another

toes    lips   fingertips     honeyed eyes
all embody evidence  - proof really
of whether touches over the whole of our lives
have transmitted tenderness
|or dull aches from that frightful pinch on the back of the arm

all transferences - of love or of pain - are possible
through the touch of another

how then do we begin to find our own rhythm
to express the individual and unique melodies
buried within each of our bodies
blood memories of a lifetime of public and private interactions

what then, pray tell, could adequately express
the stanzas of your siren’s song

unquestionably
your "you ness" is indisputable
just as surely as is the two-haired mole
underneath your upper arm
off centered - just north of your elbow
its unmistakable presence is there - as are you

so no matter
what was witnessed, whispered, shouted, or scribbled
on your locker, lunch bag, note book
or desk in that first period math class you hated so much
you do matter
your body was never invisible

think back, if you will
to the resonance of fresh oxygen
filling your lungs for the first time
how you reminded all within earshot
that you have arrived

your presence on this earth
is irrefutable

it is only when public choices
of whom to embrace
where to touch
when private preferences are witnessed or imagined
that erupts a wrong note
generates discord and public disgust
emboldens closed minds - and closeted hypocrites
who attempt to erase queer relevance
erect psychological walls of hate
manufacture heartbreak
like it was a red-light special
giving one permission
to procure hated with a 2-for-1 discounting
- no coupon required

you there over listening to my words
what key does that type of misery sing in?
where on your body do you carry the ache
seeded from the ongoing trauma
of America’s same-sex shame

yes I am talking to you
you who have swallowed your melody
and imprisoned it in the back of your throat
it is time to sing a new song
think pretty thoughts
feel stunning
wave your rainbow high

today
in these particular moments we are sharing together
we will celebrate through songs
quotes - poetic intention
the struggle for marriage equality
today we will honor the lives
of those imprisoned for pursuing their passion
those hung on lonely rural fences
or beaten on busy city streets

today - we see you
we see you, you and you
we see you, you and even you

today
we will celebrate
how living for pleasure
made Oscar Wilde

together - we will witness
the cadence of a
feisty - gender bending song of perfect propriety
together - we will relate to Hannah’s relief
after discovering a comforting word - a magic word -
in her local library
that reminded her – finally
she was not alone
not even when she was once he

the lyrics of songs will be bold
the diverse musical styles will be woven into a whole
but ultimately all asking
 - how can we be a dream?
how can we sing a new song – individually and in unison?
how can our hopes fly over the rainbow?

today -  this gathering holds space for healing
it is here
where you are loved unconditionally
it is here - together
where you are your own self
and you are welcomed - seen - celebrated - complete
no assembly required

arms   neck     legs    shoulder
|each limb longs for the touch of another
toes   lips   fingertips    honeyed eyes
all embody evidence
of how love has entered our bodies

so  I ask you: who can sing your ballad but you?
look within to find your distinctive tempo
pluck words from lingering grief
unabashed gratitude and even shameless indulgence

craft your chorus with love
love that lifts and dwells and moves the stars
love open and strong
 - authentic and ancient
love that is loud, flamboyant  - and full of pride

so sorry  - that it took  - so long

Photo Credit: Kenton Waltz     ABOUT S. RENEE MITCHELL   S. Renee Mitchell, POET IN RESIDENCE, is a published author, curriculum designer, community activist and multi-media artist. She also is a sur\thriver who has found her life purpose since disentangling from bullying, sexual assault and domestic violence. After 25 years as an award-winning newspaper journalist - where she was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize - Renee reinvented herself as a Creative Revolutionist; co-founded a culturally specific, drop-in DV resource center; and began gifting her talents to community as a poet, playwright, performer, speaker, teaching artist and self-taught graphic designer in order to create and contribute to empowering projects and programs, community healing ceremonies, plays, songs and books about healing from trauma. Motivated by intention and heart, Renee’s deepest desire is to help others use their creativity to let go, gather up and move on in order to find themselves, their voice, and their place in the world. You can find out more about Renee’s work at  ReneeMitchellSpeaks.com.

Photo Credit: Kenton Waltz

ABOUT S. RENEE MITCHELL

S. Renee Mitchell, POET IN RESIDENCE, is a published author, curriculum designer, community activist and multi-media artist. She also is a sur\thriver who has found her life purpose since disentangling from bullying, sexual assault and domestic violence. After 25 years as an award-winning newspaper journalist - where she was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize - Renee reinvented herself as a Creative Revolutionist; co-founded a culturally specific, drop-in DV resource center; and began gifting her talents to community as a poet, playwright, performer, speaker, teaching artist and self-taught graphic designer in order to create and contribute to empowering projects and programs, community healing ceremonies, plays, songs and books about healing from trauma. Motivated by intention and heart, Renee’s deepest desire is to help others use their creativity to let go, gather up and move on in order to find themselves, their voice, and their place in the world. You can find out more about Renee’s work at ReneeMitchellSpeaks.com.

Resonance artist, Christine Johnson, on Pride, the power of music, and finding allies through art.

Christine Johnson, Soprano

Christine Johnson, Soprano

The fight for equality looms large in my experience as an LGBTQ person...
— Christine Johnson

I met my partner of 12 years in Saint Louis, and she and I enjoyed many Pride events there and in Portland.  In all that time, I never encountered a concert such as this - my amazing colleagues singing an entire program about the experiences of LGBTQ people!  It was such an exciting idea for me that I knew I had to be a part of it somehow.  After Resonance’s last concert ‘Souls’, I approached Kathy and told her so.  I would have been happy just to be an usher at the concert, but she asked me to sing, even knowing that my partner is pregnant and due two days after this concert.  I feel so grateful to be able to celebrate Pride in this way and it is a unique experience I will always treasure.  I am so thrilled to give my energy to Resonance, especially this season’s exploration of social justice issues.  This is important and powerful work that we musicians can do, especially in classical music.  Resonance is leading the way.

This concert’s theme brought to mind a piece I performed with the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus a number of years ago - Melissa Dunphy’s What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?  The simple text is powerful because of its plain English - yet it speaks to so many things that “make America a great nation” - service, sacrifice, freedom, equality.  The music is so effective because it is matter of fact - until someone asks, “Do you believe in equality for gay and lesbian people?” 

His answer distills everything, brings it into sharp focus - the basses anchor the sopranos singing a major third above: “What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?” That moment reminds me that we have allies everywhere, and it feels good - including one WW2 veteran, a “loyal, hard-working American….who did not raise four sons with the idea that our gay son would be left out”. 

The fight for equality looms large in my experience as an LGBTQ person and I’m so glad I can sing this piece again.

BODIES performs one performance only on June 24th at 4PM at Cerimon House in NE Portland. Tickets are on sale now, HERE.

 

PRESS RELEASE - Resonance Ensemble Teams with Pride Northwest and Local Artists to present BODIES at Cerimon House

Bodies banner - FB Main Page Banner.jpg

For immediate release: May 14, 2018
Email: info@resonancechoral.org
Tickets: resonancechoral.org
Media Contact— Liz Bacon Brownson
Phone: 971-212-8034

PORTLAND, OR — On Sunday, June 24th at 4 PM, join Resonance Ensemble for BODIES, as they celebrate gender identities, sexualities, and the LGBTQIA community’s work toward civil rights and understanding. This concert will be held at Cerimon House and in partnership with Pride Northwest and is an official Pride NW event.

Resonance Ensemble’s 2017-18 season is inspired by the events of this time of intense political and social upheaval, and aims to reflect the world we want to see: people coming together to gain new perspectives, and to be moved by our shared humanity. This inspiration merges beautifully with the mission of Pride Northwest - an organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting positive diversity, and educating all people by developing activities that showcase the history, accomplishments and talents of the LGBTQIA community.

BODIES features compositions and performances by LGBTQIA artists, including a selection from Craig Hella Johnson’s Considering Matthew Shepard; Dominick DiOrio’s The Visible World, a work about marriage equality from diverse historical perspectives; and a selection from composer Laura Kaminsky’s work As One, written for mezzo-soprano (Beth Madsen Bradford) and baritone (Damien Geter), which depicts the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between herself and the outside world.

Other special guests include:

I had been envisioning a concert celebrating the artistic and civil rights work of the LGBTQIA community. What if Portland artists and supporters of this community shared an afternoon that showcased work of, for and about the cause? The power of community shines brightly when focused in the right direction.
— Katherine FitzGibbon, Artistic Director

Following the concert, the audience will have the chance for a conversation with the concert collaborators. Light refreshments will be available. 

Resonance Ensemble Presents: BODIES – An Official Pride NW Event

WHEN: Sunday, June 24, 2018 | 4 pm
WHERE: Cerimon House — 5131 NE 23rd Avenue
COST: $30 GENERAL ADMISSION | $25 SENIOR | $15 STUDENT/ARTIST | $5 ARTS FOR ALL

Note to Journalists: Katherine FitzGibbon is available for print, online, and broadcast interviews. If you would like more information on this event or would like to schedule an interview, please contact Liz Bacon Brownson at liz@ohcreativepdx.com or by calling 971-212-8034

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Resonance Ensemble Teams with PRIDE Northwest to Celebrate and Support the LGBTQIA Community.

Shown here: Executive Directors, Debra Porta (Pride Northwest) and Kathy FitzGibbon (Resonance Ensemble) 

Shown here: Executive Directors, Debra Porta (Pride Northwest) and Kathy FitzGibbon (Resonance Ensemble) 

I heard about the equity and inclusion work that Resonance was doing and my ears perked. When Kathy approached me with ideas on a concert that celebrated the artistic works of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans communities, it was easy to see the value in partnering with Resonance. Our missions beautifully interweave, and I look forward to where we grow from here.
— Debra Porta, Executive Director of Pride Northwest

Resonance Ensemble and Pride Northwest are excited to announce their partnership, with the Resonance concert BODIES on Sunday, June 24, 2018 serving as an official event of Pride Northwest.

Resonance Ensemble’s current season is inspired by the events of this time of intense political and social upheaval, and aims to reflect the world we want to see: people coming together to gain new perspectives, and to be moved by our shared humanity. This inspiration merges with the mission of Pride Northwest - an organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting positive diversity, and educating all people by developing activities that showcase the history, accomplishments and talents of the LGBTQIA community. The result of this partnership is the upcoming performance of BODIES - an Official Pride Northwest event dedicated to celebrating gender identities, sexualities, and the LGBTQIA community’s work toward civil rights and understanding.

Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon says, “I had been envisioning a concert celebrating the artistic and civil rights work of the LGBTQIA community. What if Portland artists and supporters of this community shared an afternoon that showcased work of, for and about the cause? The power of community shines brightly when focused in the right direction. I knew immediately we had to connect with Pride Northwest.”

“I heard about the equity and inclusion work that Resonance was doing and my ears perked,” says Debra Porta, Executive Director of Pride Northwest. “When Kathy approached me with ideas on a concert that celebrated the artistic works of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans communities, it was easy to see the value in partnering with Resonance. Our missions beautifully interweave, and I look forward to where we grow from here.”

BODIES features compositions and performances by LGBTQIA artists, including a selection from Craig Hella Johnson’s Considering Matthew Shepard; Dominick DiOrio’s The Visible World, a work about marriage equality; and a selection from composer Laura Kaminsky’s work As One, written for mezzo-soprano (Beth Madsen Bradford) and baritone (Damien Geter) that depicts the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between herself and the outside world. Other special guests include:

  • Stephen Marc Beaudoin singing a short trio of songs on the theme of PRETTY by gay composers which directly and or indirectly address gay living and lives.
  • An original work performed by one of Portland’s most loved writers and Resonance Poet in Residence, S. Renee Mitchell

Pride Northwest and Resonance Ensemble look forward to this collaboration, which we hope to be the first of many.

This Much is Clear - S. Renée Mitchell

Resonance Ensemble's Poet in Residence, S. Renee Mitchell performed this original work at the second concert of our ninth season. The concert took place at First Presbyterian Church of Laurelhurst. 300+ people were moved deeply by these words.

this much is clear god is in this place offering forgiveness
— S. Renée Mitchell

This Much Is Clear
(c) 2018 S. Renee Mitchell

this much is clear
god is in this place
laughing
singing
lurking
within the stanzas
recited from
rumi
tukaram
hafiz

would you accuse
me dear one
of sprinkling cayenne
on my tongue
for acknowledging
a form of god within me
playing paddycake
with open palms
and unguarded hearts
trying to bake love
as fast as we can
this much is clear
god is in this place
offering forgiveness
for the blasphemous thought
that we are eternally incomplete
when divine grace and power
is ours for the asking

is god not big enough
to be spoken
with every dialect & tongue
is not this being of light
rejoicing over the beauty
of each name assigned
Lord
Yehweh
Jehovah
Allah
Abba father
King of kings

are our arms not wide enough
to embrace our differences
and acknowledge light
unfolding from darker limbs
reaching for common understanding
must that question of commitment
require a conscious choice

this much is clear
god is in this place
eternal and immortal
willing to hold each of us
in all of our complexities
within a full embrace
withholding nothing
excluding nothing
encircling every pain
and heartbreak
singed into the fiber of our beings
in order to transform it
in the light of gods affection

is not the purpose of our souls
to awaken our hearts
to what is already inside of us
how can we ever find peace
if we are not first peaceful within
how can we ever truly speak of love
with tongue tied rebellions
false truths
and heavily breathing bigotry
that favors walls instead of bridges

where else will we find god
if not amongst the renaissance
that emerges from our ruins
we are humans after all
presbyterian, christian, baptist
muslim, jew, native, immigrant
white, black, brown, nonbinary
undocumented, unchurched
imperfect each one of us
how could our souls not need god

fortunately for us
this much is clear
god is in this place
look
look
please look
no
not around

look deeply within

ABOUT S. RENEE MITCHELL

S. Renee Mitchell, POET IN RESIDENCE, is a published author, curriculum designer, community activist and multi-media artist. She also is a sur\thriver who has found her life purpose since disentangling from bullying, sexual assault and domestic violence. After 25 years as an award-winning newspaper journalist - where she was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize - Renee reinvented herself as a Creative Revolutionist; co-founded a culturally specific, drop-in DV resource center; and began gifting her talents to community as a poet, playwright, performer, speaker, teaching artist and self-taught graphic designer in order to create and contribute to empowering projects and programs, community healing ceremonies, plays, songs and books about healing from trauma. Motivated by intention and heart, Renee’s deepest desire is to help others use their creativity to let go, gather up and move on in order to find themselves, their voice, and their place in the world. You can find out more about Renee’s work at ReneeMitchellSpeaks.com.

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Serendipity and S. Renee Mitchell

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When our dear actor friend Vin Shambry had a conflict arise with our November VOICES concert, we were nervous about who would fill his shoes. Vin had been a big part of the conversations about exploring many perspectives through music and the arts -- conversations that had led to the concept of the 2017-18 season and a powerful sense of purpose for our organization. 

Well, in an amazing experience of serendipity, a friend of a friend suggested that we reach out to S. Renee Mitchell. I hadn't ever met Renee before, but I visited her website and fell in love. Her website describes her as "Writer. Speaker. Artist. Teacher. Creative Revolutionist." The website for Spit/Write, the Portland Youth Poet Laureate Project, describes her as "Poetry Goddess." And when I started down the thrilling rabbit hole of watching YouTube videos of Renee's poetry readings... wow. (Go do it now! You won't regret it....)

We wrote to her, and wonder of wonders, she was available on the date of our show. We described the concept of the show and asked whether she'd be interested in reading one of her works there. She agreed! 

Renee then came to part of the dress rehearsal, 2 days before the concert, to meet us and hear a little of the rehearsal. She talked more with us about the concept of the show. She listened to the music and read the program, which had the complete texts of the performance. She shared that the music and texts were inspiring to her and that she was going to go home and think about what she'd perform.

And here's the amazing part. She came back, 2 days later, for our show and had WRITTEN A BRAND-NEW POEM. It wove together the texts and concepts of all of the works on our program. In particular, the spiritual "There's a Man Goin' Round Takin' Names" comes back over and over again. For example:

I hear him goin round
delighting in taking my past, present and future
and drowning it in loss
alienating children of color with trauma by association
making them feel motherless before they are even born
yes I hear him goin round
but he cannot stop my soul from longing
and so i look for promise embedded in displacement
embrace comfort in the coolness of the cursive stream
just beyond the barbed wire fence
that barrier that keeps my movements
and my anger contained
but does not prevent my dreams from escaping

You'll want to read the full poem HERE and you'll also want to look at the concert program HERE (or preview it below) if you want to understand fully the artistic magic that Renee made happen, telling these stories, telling her own story, admonishing listeners to take care with names and identities and perspectives. 

Poetry goddess? YES. And so we reached out after the concert and asked whether she might consider joining us for the rest of our season, as our first Poet in Residence. And, to our delight, she has accepted. We look forward to continuing this collaboration. 

Goin' Round - S. Renee Mitchell

so with non-violence grace
i reject your advice to abide
only in the spaces you call “my place”
because doing so would rob you
of resonance - of the reasons we all showed up tonight
— S. Renee Mitchell

Goin' Round
(c) 2017 S. Renee Mitchell

I hear the man is going round
he has forgotten that he is a part of us
he had misplaced the golden rule
refused to dream
lost the ties to our convictions
he searches for proof of childish lies
in the folds of his belly button
he pulls out the sticky fluff - sniffs
and declares it genius

I hear he's goin round
mispronouncing my too-ethnic name
disregarding my presence, my rhythms, my potential
yet, his prejudice does not make me disappear
unconscious lies do not exist forever

I hear him goin round
delighting in taking my past, present and future
and drowning it in loss
alienating children of color with trauma by association
making them feel motherless before they are even born

yes I hear him goin round
but he cannot stop my soul from longing
and so i look for promise embedded in displacement
embrace comfort in the coolness of the cursive stream


just beyond the barbed wire fence
that barrier that keeps my movements
and my anger contained
but does not prevent my dreams from escaping

you cannot dehumanize my truth
by assigning struggle to my doorstep
so generations of my descendants
have something to fill their empty bowls with
brick and stone may define my chorus of exile
but they do not tame my persistent longing for a promised land
as God rewards the child
who's got his own hope

yes, I hear the man goin round
roaring a thickening noise in my ear
shouting memorials of fear
that make the emotionally deadened
want to lie still and forget
get lost in the dictionary of silence
but when grief makes noise
i find renewal in moving my body
raising limbs to catch stars
pressing feet toward Mother Earth
to forget the memories
of the blood that roars in my ear
dance it says
when the world forgets your name, dance


when there's no one to hold u
when not even the scent makes claim
on your haggard body
dance, the blood says, dance I say
lose yourself
become invincible like dreams
unconditional like love
green like tall grass
offering companionship to wildflowers
of yellow scarlet indigo purple

when torrents of the rarely voiced
seldom heard stuffed down feelings
come up from your throat like rotten milk
dance to release the sting of life's aches
a simple wave a stroke
a turn a hop
sway those hips for no good reason
but to be in charge
of your own damn movement
dance the blood roars - dance

dance even while imagining the ominous outcomes
of a dream deferred
because we do live in a nation
sick with power and evil intent
and fear makes my stomach lurch sometimes
yet i rise up and i will dance
i will dance to replenish my sovereignty of self love
to quench my hunger for justice
hear its appeal soar from the hymns of spirituals
born in the bosoms of black mothers
praying for the eventual freedom
of genius children yet unborn

so mister i hear you coming 'round
and I am ready
i stand on the side of justice
where my faith may falter but never fail
I invite you to view me sacred
a weapon on the side of justice
come join our song
or at the very least - listen carefully
because when you do not hear our voices
you alienate our collective intelligence
you dismiss the liberation that love reveals


so with non-violence grace
i reject your advice to abide
only in the spaces you call "my place"
because doing so would rob you
of resonance - of the reasons we all showed up tonight
we are here to hear voices that describe feeling like the other
voices that long for a homeland
voices that heal wounds and demand compassion
this is the event we have been waiting for

and we hear you going round
yet I am not afraid
my remaining request
is when you get to the names
of my brothers and sisters of struggle and resistance
even though we are far from home
set aside your navel gazing
and assumptions that our monikers
are evidence of cultural inferiority
instead of what they are: gloriously creative inventions
to open the world up to our presence

yes, we hear you going round
going round taking names
and when you get to my name
unfamiliar and foreign in your mouth
please please
at least have the decency
to pronounce it right

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Resonance Ensemble: Carefully Programming Since 2009

“I can’t know what it feels like to be an artist of color or a person of color. But I can do what is in my power to think about structural racism in the arts...”
— Katherine FitzGibbon, Artistic Director, Resonance Ensemble
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Thanks to Oregon Arts Watch for this thoughtful and thought-provoking response regarding their troubling review of our most recent concert. (You can read the review here.) I appreciate several aspects in particular. The OAW editors affirm their own philosophy of inclusion, as well as their philosophy of including diverse opinions of writers in their publication. They corrected the factual inaccuracies in the original review, quoting the points in the letter Vin and I had written. And while they do not wish to censor their writers, they apologize for not having edited the “unduly harsh” tone of the original review (a phrase used both in the editors’ commentary and in Terry Ross’s brief quotation). They note that they have learned “that the charged way he expressed those opinions could indeed make the artists involved feel unwelcome in arts settings.” I appreciate the spirit of learning and reflection that the editors convey here. And I especially appreciate the specific apology they make to Vin, as well as the acknowledgement of Resonance’s mission and history of creating barrier-breaking concerts that include many styles of music performance.

There are ways that I wish this response went further. I would have loved for Terry Ross to have engaged more deeply in this conversation by offering a more substantive and substantial response. The editors of OAW describe the ways that they listened to and learned from community responses. It would have been helpful and healing for Ross to have described the ways he listened and learned.

I appreciated as well this statement by the OAW editors: “Part of the problem, which FitzGibbon and Shambry identify, is the stance of the critic. We see this once-common formalist critical stance supporting the most conservative cultural values: the few against the many, the white against the black, the rich against the poor, the known against the unknown, the old against the new.” This was one of the few places that acknowledged the role of class in this discussion. I would also add gender to the list of conservative values: the men against the women. (Readers of comments on the original review will see gender writ large.)

These class and gender biases worked against Nikole Potulsky’s song, “Baby Mine.” I feel that Nikole has been treated poorly throughout this discussion. As Vin and I wrote, Nikole is a world-class folk music performer, so Ross’s calling her performance “amateurish” was totally off-base. She performs in a folk style – a style historically for the working class, the disenfranchised. She’s a beautiful singer and sensitive guitarist. And she wrote a song that is about an issue experienced by many women (and men, of course) – the issue of child loss, of wishing you could hold a child in your arms. As a woman who has had a miscarriage, and as a woman who has seen friends go through other unspeakably difficult child losses, I listened to this song and felt like it told our stories of grief, and in a musical style that conveyed them as a simple lullaby that heightened their poignancy. I saw audience members in tears. Ross’s repeated dismissal of Nikole’s song as “amateurish” seems like another way of limiting his desired concert content to the conservative, upper-class cultural values cited above by the OAW editors. I feel that Nikole deserves an apology too, but I can only take care of my own part of this, which is to say: Nikole, I am sorry that I did not defend you more vociferously from the beginning. Your music is brave, tender, and rich, and having you be part of the concert deepened the whole evening for me and for many others.

My former student Will Preston, now a writer himself, commented to me that his issue with the original review was that Ross’s “argument appears to be based on nothing more than the fact that the pieces didn’t fit within his expectation of what ‘proper programming’ ought to be, rather than considering what Resonance was trying to accomplish… and judging it on those merits. I think this is also supported by how condescending the tone is. I mean, ‘This advice would have been well heeded by Katherine FitzGibbon?’ Really? That basically implies that the concert was a ‘mixed bag’ because Kathy didn't consider what these pieces might sound like next to each other! That's a completely absurd claim. If the reviewer had actually tried to engage with the programming and still found it problematic, it'd be a different story. But I see no evidence for that in the text.”

Part of Will’s sentiment was conveyed by the OAW editors – that the concert review seemed to focus on what “proper programming” should be. But I’d like to second Will’s suggestion of an alternative framework. What did the programming try to accomplish? Was it successful?

The response that Vin and I originally wrote was primarily limited to a commentary on the final paragraph of Terry Ross’s review. I wanted to be careful not to appear to be a disgruntled or defensive artistic director rebutting a bad review. I always seek to learn from reviews and audience responses. What did we do that “resonated” with our audience? What didn’t work? What can we do better in the future?

I’ve decided to come clean on a couple of aspects of my own personal response to this matter. I was troubled by the opening salvo of the review, “Be careful with your programming. This advice would have been well heeded by Katherine FitzGibbon in putting together the June 24 concert of her choir Resonance Ensemble at Portland’s Yale Union.” My programming is careful and intentional. I resented the implication that I forgot to take care with programming. In fact, I told the audience that we had carefully paired musical works together: waves of grief being answered by waves of healing. AllClassical host Christa Wessel posted on her Facebook page that she felt the concert to have been “thoughtfully curated by Katherine FitzGibbon in a way that – in my experience – very few concerts are.”

I’ve been thinking recently about Reni Eddo-Lodge’s important article, “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race”. As Eddo-Lodge writes, “They’ve never had to think about what it means, in power terms, to be white- so any time they’re vaguely reminded of this fact; they interpret it as an affront.” Or, “It must be a strange life, always having permission to speak and feeling indignant when you’re finally asked to listen. It stems from white people’s never questioned entitlement, I suppose. I cannot continue to emotionally exhaust myself trying to get this message across, whilst also toeing a very precarious line that tries not to implicate any one white person in their role of perpetuating structural racism, lest they character assassinate me.”

I can’t know what it feels like to be an artist of color or a person of color. But I can do what is in my power to think about structural racism in the arts and in society and create inclusive concert spaces (and classrooms). I can listen when people of color share their truths. And I can do my best to invite concertgoers and our Portland arts community to ask themselves the hard questions, without defensiveness or (if applicable) white fragility, with openness to mutual understanding. And so I ask if our community can think about the power dynamics in our arts scene. Would some of the responses to Vin’s work have happened had he been white? Would the questioning of my supposed lack of care in programming have happened had I been a male conductor? Would the questioning of Nikole’s music have happened if she had been performing upper-class art music, or a text about a male experience? Would people have read the letter Vin and I wrote with as much respect if we would have allowed more anger to show through our language?

Sincerely,

Katherine FitzGibbon
Artistic Director, Resonance Ensemble

Finding the Silver Lining in a Troubling Review

On June 24, 2017, Resonance Ensemble performed a concert called “…. only in falling” presenting music and monologues that explored personal grief, healing, and transformation. On July 3, Oregon Arts Watch published a review of the concert by Terry Ross. The review contained several troubling sentences about Vin Shambry’s performance of his original work, “Brother Man.” On July 7, Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon and actor/singer Vin Shambry published the following letter on Oregon Arts Watch.

We are troubled by the macro- and microaggressions against Vin Shambry’s piece “Brother Man.” We write to ask Ross and Oregon Arts Watch to consider the language and ideas they published and to invite our arts community to engage in dialogue about who is in charge of whose art, who decides what is welcome (especially in “classical” music performances), and how we can empower the arts community and, especially, the next generation to represent and witness many voices and perspectives.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:

There were a shocking number of problematic statements in the two sentences Ross wrote about “Brother Man.” To call it an “impersonation” implies a kind of caricature or something inauthentic, which follows in the long tradition of minstrelsy and of rendering black performances as inferior to white performances.  Vin’s piece was a genuine statement of his own perspective, his daily perspective which is informed by being a man of color living in our predominantly white city and in this time in the United States. Ross cannot understand Vin’s perspective – no one can fully understand another person’s perspective – so to label it as an “impersonation” devalues it and sets it aside.

Second, Vin’s sung performance had nothing to do with “rap style.” Rap incorporates "rhyme, rhythmic speech, and street vernacular" (Keyes 2004:1). It is astounding that Ross would lump this performance into the category of rap.

Third, this also had nothing to do with Black Lives Matter, which is an entire movement with a specific set of goals. Again, “Brother Man” expressed Vin’s personal feelings and his experience of daily life.

Fourth, Ross refers to the “ghetto’s mean streets” and “murderous cops,” neither of which stereotypes figured whatsoever in Vin’s piece.

Fifth, Ross writes that “blacks were not, to my recollection, specifically mentioned.” Ross’s tone when he refers to “blacks” is not only off-putting but suggests that the experience of all African-Americans, Africans, and African-Caribbeans are the same (and linked with the “ghetto” and “mean streets”).

And if “blacks” were not specifically mentioned (in point of fact, there is a single mention of “men of color” in the piece), then why did he conclude that the piece was in the manner of a Black Lives Matter “screed”?

Sixth, and most devastatingly, Ross concludes, “This small bit of actorly free expression was desperately out of place and unwelcome in this setting.” This statement troubled and angered us such that we feel the need to affirm how welcome Vin’s perspective was and is, in the world of classical music and whatsoever. We affirm that concert and theater performances are richer and deeper when they are inclusive of many points of view, both aesthetically and psychologically. (Ross also criticized other styles that were not classically choral, as in his remarks about the inclusion of singer-songwriter Nikole Potulsky, an artist with a national reputation who is just coming off a sold-out solo show in Portland).  It seems that Ross has a narrow understanding of what “belongs” on a classical music concert, and indeed, an understanding that does not reflect the fundamental mission of Resonance Ensemble, one of collaboration with many styles, art forms, and communities. We believe that art can provoke and move its listeners. Clearly, Mr. Ross felt provoked by and uncomfortable with the inclusion of Vin’s piece, and we ask him to consider why it did not feel “welcome.”

The silver lining is that this review has galvanized us to develop several new collaborations to celebrate the potential of theater and classical music to share underrepresented perspectives; showcase the work of actors, singers, composers, and directors of color; and show young people in particular that the worlds of classical music and theater do welcome all of us. We are developing an experimental theater and music piece with Vin, Resonance Ensemble and the Artists Repertory Theatre that will seek to show Vin’s inner thoughts as he walks through Portland as a man of color. We are each continuing and expanding initiatives that reach out to students and families of color. And we hope to continue to reach out to our arts community through our intentional programming choices, panel discussions, and other forms of engagement to continue to help Portland become a more welcoming and compassionate place.

Sincerely,
Vin Shambry and Katherine FitzGibbon

Only in Falling — Renée Favand-See Shares Program Notes

On Saturday, June 24th at 7:30PM, Resonance will close its eighth season showcasing the poignant and captivating works of local area artists at the beautiful contemporary art center, Yale Union (800 SE 10th Avenue), in music that emphasizes the resilience of the human spirit and its need to heal and transform. 

Among the works included for this concert will be Only in Falling, a major composition by Portland composer Renée Favand-See which captures the emotional power of her poignant voyage following the death of her newborn son, Owen.  

Following, is Renée's notes, which will also be included in our program.

Only in Falling is dedicated to my son Owen, to honor the joyful journey of carrying him and giving birth to him, and to honor the sorrowful journey since losing him just six days after he was born.”
— Renée Favand See

Along this path of grieving, Wendell Berry’s poems have been steadfast companions—offering presence and witness in the deepest dark of loss, offering understanding and insight, gradually even light, to my slowly unfolding experience. The poems in this set of pieces are ones that speak to different aspects of my grief—an ever-changing landscape of feelings and thoughts.

“The Finches” accompanied the winter of grief—the shock and sting of it. The world spins, goes too fast. Everything is laid bare. The most striking musical element in this poem is its rhythm, specifically the emphatic quality of adjacent accented syllables that command ever-changing odd meters to my ear. Also, the successive accented syllables accumulate pulses over the course of the poem (ears stung --> soon go north --> bare sticks soon live) toward the inevitable point of arrival in the poem’s message: may winter soon become spring. The poem drives forward with little stopping for breath and elisions of phrases. I take this poetic phrasing as a cue to follow suit with musical phrasing that often overlaps, one voice ending as the next voice begins. The icy, bristling images at the start of the poem conjured up bare fifths alternating with biting tritones—these intervals color the opening motive that pervades this movement.

”It has taken time for the full depth of its meaning to sink in, as it has taken time to cultivate a spiritual relationship with my son—or to even absorb the full gravity of the fact that I will not get to see Owen again, ever.”

Berry’s poem “For the Future” is a proverb gone rogue, introducing a question into a seeming certainty. Iambic rhythm and rhyme are broken up in the middle with a question that continues to resonate even after the rhyme returns. I chose the warmth of men’s voices together with harmonic thirds and sixths as a contrast to winter and to underscore a hopeful tone. The melody takes surprising turns, as life gives us the unexpected, both terrible and beautiful.

The music of “Woods” came to me whole, as a gift. I simply took dictation as the lines, the harmony, the phrasing poured forth—the music moved through me, a joyful and pure experience. What a fitting conception for the setting of this poem that explores gratitude, another significant timbre in the feeling palette of grief. As I emerged from the deep water of my trauma, I sensed a subtle shift as gratitude for my son’s life began to well up in my heart. Just now it occurs to me that the opening movement of this choral cycle begins with perfect fifths, and this movement begins with perfect fourths—their inversion. This musical relationship fits quite nicely with the idea that joy and sorrow are two sides of the same coin—they complete one another, they need one another. The tritone from “The Finches” is also present in “Woods,” but this time as an emphasized melodic interval functioning clearly within the major scale. The tritone’s brightness is the poignance of gratitude felt in the context of loss. As with so many revelations that come to you in grief, I see this now only in retrospect.

“The Law That Marries All Things” is a poem I knew well before Owen was born and one that I turned to early on for comfort. It has taken time for the full depth of its meaning to sink in, as it has taken time to cultivate a spiritual relationship with my son—or to even absorb the full gravity of the fact that I will not get to see Owen again, ever. The “law,” as I understand it, is the natural law of wholeness. The poem uses the physical behavior of water as an illustration of nature’s law: the ocean receives water lost by the cloud, and in turn, the cloud receives water lost by the ocean. In the presence of loss, there is ever wholeness and balance. And “in the air/over the water” there is the place in between where water is invisible, neither cloud nor water body—an intangible point of unity. As a nod to Berry’s Baptist roots, I have threaded material from the shape note hymn “Sweet Prospect” throughout this movement, sometimes as an accompaniment texture, sometimes as a model for original music, and sometimes in explicit quotation. As I studied “Sweet Prospect,” I noticed a perfect musical expression of the images in this poem. The upper voices often meet at a unison mid-phrase as one voice descends from high to low balanced by the other voice ascending from low to high. The voices trade places as the water does between cloud and ocean, and they meet at that magical unison “in the air/over the water.”

My musical entry point into “The Wheel” was Berry’s lively opening phrase “At the first strokes of the fiddle bow.” From there I was off with a chord of stacked fifths, pitches corresponding to the open strings of the violin. Add to the mix the image of a gathering of people gradually transforming from a crowd to a formation of dancers, and that opening sonority continues to add fifths until maximum density is reached—then the lowest fifth drops away and the pattern continues to ascend or at significant moments distills into the clarity of a unison or a bright triad. Then add the image of a turning wheel that inexorably gathers momentum—energized by Berry’s wonderful short-short-long phrasing, like a dancer taking a few running steps before a graceful leap. At a climactic moment in this movement (“time is the wheel that brings it round”), the wheel, or in musical terms the cycle of fifths is traversed much more quickly than the opening long phrases that build harmonic density very gradually.

Another prominent element in this poem’s structure is the continuous thread spun by the repetition of words from one phrase to the next: dancers-->dance; couples-->couples; movement-->move; etc. I highlight Berry’s tactic musically by overlapping pitches on these recurring words between the cumulating ostinati that carry segments of text. The dance theme of the poem inspired a jaunty waltz often with an emphasis on beat two.

Finally, in this poem downward gestures—down-bows on the fiddle—are balanced at the local level by ascending gestures—the dancers rise. Melodically, leaps are balanced by stepwise movement in the opposite direction. The spinning wheel’s motion is a continuous balancing of descent and ascent. Over the arc of this poem, the wheel, originally grounded in the world of reality, attains such momentum through the dance as to overshoot its original starting point and soar into the spiritual realm. One of the most powerful aspects of music is its ability to hold more than one thought or feeling at once. So at this moment when the poem launches us into spirit realm (“In this rapture the dead return”) a solo soprano line rises into the stratosphere while the harmony falls by thirds (the original cycle of fifths with an extra step in between). These musical gestures together seek to capture something of the experience I feel now of being rooted to earth, while my heart reaches for a deeper spiritual communion with Owen.

These notes would not be complete without a heartfelt expression of gratitude to my friend, Kathy, who bravely offered wise words, soothing gestures, and most importantly, gentle companionship when I was completely broken with early grief. She has been a steadfast support in this long and continuing season of grief. As I shared these amazing poems with Kathy, gradually a seed of an idea formed to set these words for Resonance to sing. One of the many heartbreaks of losing your baby soon after birth is the unfulfilled desire to nurture in the traditional way—after giving birth, your heart is open and ready to nourish your child as long as you live. Despite loss, all those feelings continue to flow and one must seek out ways to fulfill this need. Writing “...only in falling” for Owen is a healing act, an affirmation that he was born and his life holds meaning in this world. Thank you, Kathy, for the invitation to make this music, and for your caring delivery—through the beautiful voices of Resonance’s singers—of these songs into our ears and hearts.

--Renée Favand-See (March, 2014)

Come experience Renée's transformational music along with other fantastic works this Saturday, June 24th at 7:30PM at the beautiful contemporary art center, Yale Union (800 SE 10th Avenue).

The cloud is free only to go with the wind.
The rain is free only in falling.
– Wendell Berry –