Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Awakening

I've been singing in choirs since I was 14 years old, and I can honestly say I've never sang a song as profound as one my current choir is doing.

It's called "The Awakening" by Joseph Martin. It's a profound song because the melody and words are beautifully haunting, but so is the story behind it.

Our choir director explained the story to us one night as such: There was a Jr High school in North Carolina (don't quote me on the location, I honestly can't remember exactly what he said) that had basically no arts program. That is until a new teacher came along and resurrected it - every kid was a part of the choir and everyone in the school became engaged in the arts thanks to her and the entire dynamic of the kids and the school changed.

One night the teacher returned to the school after hours to pick up something she had forgotten and....was murdered in the school.

Ummmmm....yeah I know.

Those are all the details he gave us but they were enough to make everyone in the room gasp with surprise and horror. You can imagine what this tragedy would have done to the students and the school as a whole; from what I know, the progress made in the arts program basically vaporized in the wake of the death of this beloved teacher. However, (and I'm not sure exactly how - again, only got so many details and it is hard to find more online for some reason) everyone slowly got their confidence and passion back and the arts program prevailed.

That's where the inspiration and spirit of "The Awakening" come from. The song starts off very mournful, reflecting the pain, despair and disbelief those directly affected by this incident must have felt immediately following. Their "broken dreams". However, as the song goes on it becomes faster, louder and happier, reflecting the rising of the school out of the ashes of death and deciding to celebrate a life rather than mourn. "Awake! Awake!".

Needless to say, it's very moving to feel like a part of this - even though it's in a very small, indirect way. I feel like our joy and honour performing this piece will somehow float through the air down down down to the school and to the students and remind them how amazing their experience and their strength are. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but sometimes the cheesy thing is the true thing. Besides, it is an amazing example of a subject I feel very passionate about and that I feel is ESSENTIAL and that's arts education and arts programs in schools. I was lucky enough to have access to great arts programs growing up and I'm so grateful for that.

I encourage you to listen to the piece for yourself - really listen to the words and the music - so you can fully understand why I'm so moved.


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