Thursday, September 15, 2011

What We're Up To: Paying Tribute the Best Way We Can

Editor's Note: Today we are sharing two blog posts about our singers' experience at the Massachusetts Remembers 9-11 Commemoration. BCC was a featured performer at the event. More information can be found on our website.

By Isabel Koyama, Premier Choir
Isabel has been in BCC for 9 years. She is sixteen years old.

Sunday was the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, and appropriately, BCC was there as a musical voice of Boston to bring hope to a confused yet reflective city. It was a hot day, and we wore our black uniforms, which didn't make the heat any easier. But just as we did in Jordan three years ago, we tolerated the heat like true professionals! Although we were shaded by the arched Hatch Shell, I sat near the end of my row, right where the sun decided to shine only on my seat. But even through the baking penetration of the sun, I could not have been more glad to sit through the event from the stage. From my seat I watched the Pops play patriotic songs, and Deval Patrick offer reflection. I watched people of all different religions unite in one prayer. I watched a black female vocalist sing from her soul. I heard the family members of victims tell inspiring stories of how they have overcome the unconscionable death of their loved ones ten years ago.
BCC singers perform with the Boston Pops Brass Ensemble at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade

In preparing for our first concert, we practiced songs such as "Let There Be Peace on Earth" and "This is my Song." My first impression of these songs bordered on disgust -- they were so predictably corny. Everything about them was sappy and cliche. But after hearing the speakers I looked at the lyrics to "This is my Song" with a new outlook:

"My country's skies are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine"

I considered these words as I sang them, how they can bring hope to victims' families in a time when they are brought back to hopelessness; how much it must mean to them that I am singing this song. I thought about the beautiful idea of equity behind this verse - We spend so much time trying to protect what is labeled ours, but in actuality we all live under the same sky. Anyone should be able to look up and see a beautiful, refreshing blue sky above them. Yet war and violence can, metaphorically and literally, turn a blue sky gray.

As I pondered these lyrics I began to sing not for myself, but for them. And by "them" I mean the victims, the victims' families, or any person in the world who is victimized. I felt myself beginning to tear up from the lyrics that I had scoffed at the day before.

In my 9 years of participating in BCC, I have heard our mission statement hundreds of times. It is important to me to interpret it and try to make meaning from it. On Sunday, I felt that our mission, for me, was accomplished. It was accomplished by using music to bring hope to the city of Boston when it needed it most. Through song we exemplified compassion, understanding, unity, and humility; and even if this message of understanding was only internalized by one audience member it was still worth it. BCC was a shoulder for Bostonians to lean on; and if that isn't social change, I don't know what is.

By Allana Matthews, Premier Choir
Allana has been in BCC for nine years. She is seventeen years old.

On Sunday, we had the wonderful opportunity to sing with the Boston Pops for the ten-year anniversary of the tragic event that shook our nation on September 11, 2001. Premier Choir and Young Men’s Ensemble lifted their voices in song, singing patriotic songs as well as songs of hope. Although 9-11 is not a happy day, our music sang to the souls of the fallen, and spoke hope and encouragement for the future to their families.

To be part of such an amazing event was very rewarding. It was an opportunity to reflect on the mission of the Boston Children’s Chorus - we harness the power of music as a catalyst for social change, and that is exactly what we did on the stage at the Esplanade. Ten years ago, there was a terrorist attack against our nation that screamed hate. It was in this time that our nation joined together to promote peace, and spread a beacon of courage, hope and strength for the future. It didn’t matter what the race, the religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background or economic status- we ALL needed one another in that sad time.

On that stage, that is what we stood for. Singing for peace and love, and using music to spread the message of a world without hate.

“Imagine all the people, living life in peace” – John Lennon

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