Written by Lily O’Connor AU ‘21 (Article Available Here)
The Assumption University Chorale and Worcester Children’s Chorus (WCC) have found a unique way to collaborate to continue their shared passion of the performing arts. During the pandemic, the two groups have connected virtually to create a new original performance, providing students of different generations the opportunity to engage in musical creativity.
According to Assumption University’s Director of Choral Activities Brad Dumont, the two groups are working on a new choral work written by Grace Brigham, a composer from Washington, D.C., who specializes in choral and vocal music. ”The goal of this collaboration is to create a space of the Assumption University Chorale students to collaborate with the Worcester Children's Chorus and together to realize what the creative process can look like by actively contributing to the commission of a brand-new piece of choral music that we will eventually perform together,” explained Dumont.
For Pamela Mindell, artistic director of the WCC, this collaboration is about more than just the music. “The WCC singers are thrilled to be connecting with the Assumption students,” she said. “They have been wonderful and enthusiastic mentors to the children, and they have so much to offer.”
Mindell explained that this new project has had a meaningful impact on her singers. “The WCC singers have never been part of a commission project from the very beginning stages,” she said. “They are truly excited to be part of the process, sharing thoughts and ideas about text, speaking with Grace directly and asking her questions about her compositional process, and seeing the piece come to fruition.”
While the Assumption University Chorale has a long history of partnering with local groups, Dumont shares this is one of the most noteworthy and creative experiences yet. “This is a unique experience for the students to significantly contribute to the commissioning of a new work with their own texts and ideas,” he said, adding that Brigham was able to join them and talk about her creative process and her compositions. Dumont shared that the final work will feature a poem based around a piece by WCC member Hope DeLuca with additional contributions from members of the choir. “This kind of multi-level collaborative project is not something that happens regularly and should allow students an insight into the creative process which they may never have experienced otherwise.”
The WCC, in residence at the University, has called Assumption home for the past several years. Even though the pandemic has prevented them from rehearsing in-person and on campus, Dumont wanted to maintain their connection to Assumption. “Part of this project is an effort to let the WCC students know that Assumption University is still a space that they can call a musical home although they are not physically present this year,” Dumont said, adding that Assumption students have been given opportunities to lead small group sessions with WCC singers, creating a space for mentorship.
The AU Chorale and WCC continue to meet and collaborate virtually, with the hope of creating a virtual choir recording by the end of the semester with an eventual live performance when it is safe to be together again.
“Through this collaboration, Assumption students see themselves having an impact in the greater community by establishing direct relationships with local students focused on collaborative creative projects,” said Dumont. “This specific series of events is directly asking student involved to think about what hope can look like in our communities and how we can continue building our hope as we move through the COVID-19 pandemic. This presentation will give voice to the thoughts and reflections of the various youth populations of Worcester from both the WCC and AU populations.”