I went to the "Voice of Reason: Social Justice, the Greater Good, and Why We Sing" panel on Wednesday with the intention of getting inspiration for a piece I'm planning to write, and I did not come away disappointed. The panel was geared towards directors who intend to program a concert surrounding an important social issue, focusing on ways in which the message of the performance can better reach the audience. The presenter, Kristina Caswell MacMullen, is well versed in directing pieces with a social goal in mind. She shared about a long program she had directed that followed the story of victims of human trafficking, using a series of related pieces with complete staging.
The main message of this presentation was the importance of telling a story through the music. To reach people with your music, one approach is to take your audience members through the journey of the person you want them to relate to. MacMullen's performance took the viewer through the life of a girl pushed into human trafficking. Another example she showed us was a piece using the last words of several of the young black men recently killed by police officers, which puts the audience into their shoes. Staging was a huge part of these programs, and that has given me so many ideas for my own protest piece I'll be writing in the coming months. While I have performed plenty of staged choral pieces, as a composer, I had never thought to write a composition with specified staging instructions. I always felt that that was the choral director's job, but of course nothing is keeping the composer from making those decisions as well.
Overall, this presentation was incredible and has left me with so many ideas on how to spread awareness through my music.
-Anna Marcus-Hecht, IC ACDA '19
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