Songs of Hope
returning to Chatfield
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 3:48 AM
Hope makes noise like rock 'n' roll, sings the blues, or gets just plain jazzy.
And it's quite global, too...with "16 countries and still counting."
Chatfield welcomes the return of the Songs of Hope performing arts camp choir on Wednesday, July 16, at the Chatfield Center for the Arts.
The concert is the culmination of a six-week, overnight performing arts summer camp in St. Paul, for kids age 10 and older from around the world.
According to the Songs of Hope website, the program is more than just a performing arts camp. Songs of Hope offers participants a unique opportunity to live in community with kids from other countries and cultures while learning and performing music from many countries.
Each summer, a select group of 50 children and young adults venture to Minnesota from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and the U.S. They arrive as strangers, but soon find themselves embraced in a closely-knit, supportive community as they learn popular songs and dances from each other's cultures. Then, they take these songs of peace, love, and respect into neighboring communities in a joyous celebration of cultural unity, delighting their audiences along the way.
Songs of Hope is a collaboration of Twin Cities artists Jeanne Junge and Tom Surprenant, who began the camp in 1994 and have cultivated the participants to bring an energetic concert to audiences - including Chatfield's, as the young performers of 2011 impressed local attendees and left them talking about the event for the next week.
This year's entourage includes a showcase of more than 50 performers from Vietnam, China, India, Serbia, Albania, Italy, Greece, Russia, Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Jamaica, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico and the U.S.
The website shared, "With so many performers on stage, 2014 promises to be an especially high-energy event, featuring music from countries large and small mixed with U.S. songs chosen because they offer perfect entertainment for a warm summer's night: folk, jazz, blues, New Orleans Second Line, Cajun, rock 'n roll, and much more. The annual Songs of Hope concert tour has a well-deserved reputation for lively, upbeat shows for all ages, and the 2014 version of the show promises to be even better than ever."
There also promises to be a special honor for the late Pete Seeger, as the choir performs a special tribute to the musical legacy of this great musician.
The 2014 tour features the talents of keyboardist Cheryl Kramer, who has experience "playing African, Latin, and Caribbean music with many diverse Twin Cities ensembles."
Vocal director is Melvin Carter, III, who "regularly performs as a jazz and gospel vocalist, bringing to the project years of experience leading gospel choirs for adults and youth."
Another staff member for the camp is David Burk. He one of the most versatile multi-instrumentalists in the Twin Cities, with numerous past and present musical associations including The Rose Ensemble, the Georges Lammam Arabic Orchestra, Voices of Sepharad, famed Persian singer Sattar, traditional Persian group Robayat, Ethnic Dance Theatre, Fuego Flamenco and Intergalactic Contemporary Ensemble.
Also working with the students is Venezuelan-born percussionist Angel Diaz, "who specializes in timbales while playing many other drums with La Banda Nueva and other groups," and 2000 project Songs of Hope alum Alpdogan Türeci, "who is now a highly regarded professional drummer in Turkey."
Songs of Hope has been nationally recognized - its non-profit parent organization, Sounds of Hope, is a 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards Finalist (NAHYP). The NAHYP Award is sponsored by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Beyond that, the concerts the children bring to the stage are just plain jazzy fun, "popular, award-winning concert tours performed by young people from countries all over the world."
Songs of Hope's concert tour, slated to stop in Chatfield at the Chatfield Center for the Arts on Wednesday, July 16, at 7 p.m., is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund, and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Admission to the concert is by donation.
For more information, log onto the Chatfield Center for the Arts website at www.cfa.com, or onto the Songs of Hope website at www.soundsofhope.org.