Resonance joined with Fort Collins author Rita Kissen to illuminate and honor the power of women singing together through centuries, trading songs and spoken word in an inspiring one-hour concert. Kissen’s newly-published book, Strong Voices: The Story of the Women’s Chorus Movement, offers a rich history of the power of women’s voices to create and support change. Based on over 100 interviews with choral singers, directors and composers, as well as historical accounts of women’s choral lives over the centuries, Strong Voices elevates the feminist/lesbian choral movement to its rightful place in the historical, musical, and cultural record.
The Light on the Land (2019)
We turned to the beauty of nature in search of organic sanity and in support of visionary activism. This concert was inspired by Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass: an inspiring re-framing of the relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world as founded in gift exchange and reciprocity. We also grounded this concert in the poetry of Mary Oliver, who died this year. Gary Grundei’s setting of Carl Sandburg’s Under the Harvest Moon and Marjan Helms’ Salmon Run were written for Resonance in previous years. Music by Craig Hella Johnson, Joan Szymko, Jake Runestad, David Brunner, Ola Gjeilo, Jane Siberry, Susan Crowe, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Poetry/text by Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop, Wendell Berry, Carl Sandburg, Susan B. Anthony, and Dorothy Walters.
Deep Breath (2018)
An invitation to fierce imagination, offering vibrant colors, slashing musical gestures, hallucinatory sound-clouds, and revelatory moments of harmonic glory, ecstasy, and uplift. The finale of the concert added male choral sound in Craig Hella Johnson’s All of Us, “a jubilant call to remember the inherent value and radiance in every living being…a vibrant declaration of love, celebration, and respect for all beings.”
An Afternoon with Holly Near: a Concert/Community Sing (2017)
Holly Near’s singing has been a sound track for social change activists during the 45 years of her remarkable career, inspiring generations of artists and world citizens to commit their hearts and talents to peace and justice. In these times—when it is easy to become discouraged, even horrified—Resonance Women’s Chorus invites our community to come together to sing and rise up with the music of Holly Near and pianist John Bucchino.
Conversations with the World (2017)
In a divided and confusing time, we offer a concert about listening and speaking, empathy and engagement, truth and beauty, life and death, searching and soul. This program included two short films: (In)visible Boulder County, produced by Boulder County Community Services Department and intended to start conversation about many of the vulnerable populations in Boulder County , and a video adaptation of a talk given by psychologist Glenda Russell shortly after the election. This seven-minute "guidebook" -- part history lesson, part call to collective action, and part balm for the progressive soul -- focused on using Trump's election as a springboard to activism and to individual and community growth. The program included music by Joan Szymko ("She Who Makes Her Meaning Clear"), Abbie Betinis ("A Blessing of Cranes"), Boulder composer Selena Wellington ("Dream of What the World Could"), and Connor Koppin ("Light My Light").
Each of Us (2016)
An eclectic and wide-ranging concert about authenticity and expression: matters of personal happiness, and, often, matters of life and death. A reflection on changing times, on the challenges faced by individuals in our society, and on the importance of being allies to each other. The singers of Resonance thought and talked this year about the ways in which we self-censor, as well as ways in which we ask others to do the same, either implicitly or explicitly. We were joined by the Colorado Trans Community Choir, drummer Amy Shelley, and saxophonist Pete Lewis. Musical selections include songs from diverse artists including The Pointer Sisters, Kermit the Frog, Sara Bareilles, Andrea Ramsey and Colorado composers Gary Grundei and Terry Schlenker
Sea Change (2015)
An exploration in sound and song of the emotional experience of living with climate change, and an attempt to simply be with the “not knowing” that underlies all of our wonderings and fears about the Earth's future and our own; a concert about nature, beauty, love, loss, and the experience of being here now. “Opalaria,” commissioned by the Resonance Knitters and written by Marjan Helms, was inspired by the breathtaking imagery of starling murmurations. Repertoire included “The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls” and “Where Do the Roads Go?” by Sally Lamb McCune, Eleanor Daley’s “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” Paul Carey’s “Lake Song,” Laura Farnell’s setting of “There Will Come Soft Rains,” Dolly Parton’s "Light of a Clear Blue Morning,” and Jane Siberry’s “Bound by the Beauty.” An art show featuring works of varied media by Resonance singers offered individual contributions to the concert’s exploration of emotional experience related to climate change. See the art show catalog here.
We Who Believe in Freedom (2014)
Billed as "a concert in which we affirm self-evident truths" and inspired by Cornel West's words, "Justice is what love looks like in public," this event was about the importance of being allies to each other in the context of contemporary social issues. Guests included Sandra Wong and Victor Mestas on violin/Swedish nyckelharpa and piano vocalist Eve Ilsen, and speakers Hillary Hall, Boulder County Clerk and Recorder; Susan Levy, Executive Director of the Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center; Barb Miller, sponsor of Manhattan Middle School’s Allies group; and Carmen Ramirez, a member of the steering committee of All Cultures One Action Longmont.
125 women singing beyond words, in sonic exploration of realms perhaps not reached by language. Many of the selections on the program had no text or were settings in which the sounds transcended the text in unusual ways. Selections included Ola Gjeilo’s Tundra, Georgian composer Otar Taktakishvili’s Satamasho, Ysaye Barnwell’s Breaths, and Eliza Gilkyson’s Requiem. Birdsong of the Rocky Mountain region was the basis of a collective improvisation.
Imagine Such a World (2013)
This concert marked the 10th anniversary of Resonance Women’s Chorus. Two premieres of commissioned works by Boulder composers were highlights: Imagine Such a World and Under the Harvest Moon. (See Commissions page for more information.)
Always Coming Home (2012)
Ursula LeGuin’s words, in Joan Szymko’s setting of Always Coming Home, say “May your soul be at home where there are no houses.” John O’Donohue wrote: “[Home] stands for the sure center where individual life is shaped and from where it journeys forth...In a sense, that is exactly what spirituality is: the art of homecoming.” This concert was a meditation on “home.” Music included works by Boulder composers Deborah Schmit-Lobis and Bill Douglas, as well as Eric Whitacre, Gwyneth Walker, and Malcolm Dalglish. A featured work was It Is Happiness, Joan Szymko’s setting of three poems by Mary Oliver.
Minding the Gap (2011)
A concert about awareness, about witnessing each other’s journeys, and about living in the gap between reality and possibility; a concert of colorful, celebratory sound reflecting on the task of caring about one another. This concert featured music of Native American, African, and African-American traditions, music by Freddie Mercury and the Wailin’ Jennys, and more.
Strange Thing (2010)
An exuberant concert full of big sound, humor, and joyful energy. Musical selections included the premiere of Gary Grundei’s Strange Thing, a setting of Issa’s haiku: “To be alive:/what a strange thing!/In cherry blossom shade.” Also: She Who Makes Her Meaning Clear, Joan Szymko’s setting of text by Audre Lorde (“When I dare…”); Hilliard and Boresi’s Madrigals for the Information Age; Karl Jenkins’ Adiemus; and works by Rosephanye Powell, Gwyneth Walker, Carole King, Malcolm Dalglish, Beethoven’s Wig, and the Isely Brothers.
BraveSouls and Dreamers (2009)
Created by composer Robert Seeley and librettist Robert Espindola for the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus. Resonance premiered the SSAA version of this full-length contemporary anti-war cantata, a setting of texts adapted from and inspired by words of some of the world’s great peacemakers and visionaries. The messages of forgiveness and triumph of the human spirit are offered in a context that feels real and in a way that is helpful to hearts and souls.
A concert celebrating the fifth anniversary of Resonance Women’s Chorus. Selections included music by Gwyneth Walker, Morten Lauridsen, Joan Szymko, Fred Small, Charles Baker, and the premiere of Salmon Run, by composer Marjan Helms (See Commissions page for more information.)
Earth Voices (2007)
“Internal strength is an absorption of the external landscape,” wrote Terry Tempest Williams in An Unspoken Hunger. A performance combining the voices of Resonance and guest performers with the voices of the Earth itself, using the sounds of natural materials. Williams writes about the importance of place: “It may just be that the most radical act we can commit is to stay home.” Five “local treasures” added their voices to the performance: poet Marilyn Krysl, former director of CU’s Creative Writing Program; storyteller and singer Eve Ilsen; anti-nuclear activist Judith Mohling, of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center; and percussionist/ethnomusicologist John Galm with storyteller Alyne Galm. John Galm also contributed sounds of nature including pitched rocks and cactus spikes.
Resonance has performed collaborative concerts following the last four presidential elections and in 2018:
2018: People Have the Power A free post-election concert offering affirmation of truths, vision, and values; strong women's voices; gratitude for community. With Sound Circle; the Low Flying Knobs marimba ensemble; Sandra Wong, violinist/Swedish nyckelharpa, with Victor Mestas, piano; poet Tanaya Winder.
2016: The Quiet Work of Centuries
A collaboration with Resonance Women's Chorus
In a surreal time where many were feeling shock, grief, anger, fear, and despair, we attempted to offer affirmation, beauty, and community; to affirm truths we hold to be self-evident.
2012: Sweet Land: Choices of Dignity
Boulder musicians and activists came together in November, 2012, for a performance inspired by the challenges of the presidential election, reflecting on our lives, our history, and our shared future. Co-hosts were Sound Circle, Resonance Women’s Chorus, and One Action - One Boulder, directed by Kirsten Wilson. Additional performers included African singing teacher Nii Armah Sowah and the 1,000 Voices Project, playwright/songwriter Carlos Heredia with singers Ariel Haan and Angela Hunt, and singer Elisa Garcia with guitarist Daniel Ondaro, with spoken word by members of the community.
2008: How Can I Keep From Singing
A musical celebration of the election of Barack Obama as the next President of the United States in November, 2008, hosted by Sound Circle and Resonance, with women’s marimba ensemble The Low Flying Knobs, singer-storyteller Eve Ilsen, the Boulder trio Somethin' About Lulu, and African singing teacher Nii Armah Sowah. The concert was offered not as a partisan political gathering but rather as an expression of a particular vision of human society based on inclusivity, celebration of diversity, respect, and compassion.
2004: Nobody is an Island: Music for a Purple Country
A collaboration with Resonance Women's Chorus and the Denver Gay Men's Chorus.