Sounding Joy to present piece created as musical response to Flint water crisis

Published 9:04 am Friday, May 12, 2017

Through your own eyes 

Piece includes words

written by children from Flint, to be read by DHS

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forensics during performance 


Sounding Joy 

In its 11th season, Sounding Joy, Danville Women’s Choir decided to expand their repertoire by participating in a commission for a new choral work for treble voices. Composer, teacher and educator Andrea Ramsey was selected by the American Choral Directors Association for this project. Sounding Joy will present the Kentucky premier of the work this coming Thursday evening, May 18, at 7:30 at the Presbyterian Church of Danville, 500 W. Main St.

Ramsey had lived in Michigan while pursuing her doctorate at Michigan State University but had moved away when the water crisis in Flint, Michigan began. At first at a loss for anything she could do to help the situation, she came across a Sara Teasdale poem and “was struck that something written in the 1800s could be so exquisitely haunting in its relevance to the current situation in Flint — and I knew what I had to do.”

The result is her composition “But a Flint Holds Fire.” Early media coverage of the over 100,000 people without clean water faded before any solution to the crisis was begun. She writes that “this work is not intended to be a political statement, but rather to serve as a musical response to an ongoing humanitarian crisis in the hope that citizens with the means to help will do so. Together, we can affect change for a community that has been wronged, overlooked, and left to tend to a mess they did not create. No one should be without clean drinking water … ” — no one should have to rely on bottled water, the initial stop-gap solution that continues now three years later.

Her work is for treble (children or women) voices and includes words written by children from Flint and Flint Township. In Sounding Joy’s performance, members of the award-winning Forensic Team from Danville High School will be reading these words. In the program itself will be information on how to donate to to help the citizens of Flint through the crisis.

“Through My Own Eyes” is the title of Sounding’s Joy’s program. Experiencing the Flint crisis with our eyes and ears is only one of the “seeings” of this program. Other works will explore reclaiming the past through memories, visualizing landscapes from northern tundra to the sea, and experiencing the majesty of the heavens. The program will conclude with a text from “Revelations” with its vivid, almost hallucinatory images.

The concert is free and will last about 75 minutes. 

Barbara Hall is Stodghill Professor of Music, Emerita with Centre College.