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Houston Concert: The Healing Power of Mozart & Spirituals

The Houston Schiller Institute Community Chorus, with Maestro Dorceal Duckens, our great pianist Joshua, and newly added string players, made beautiful music unto Heaven during our May 5th concert at the Riverside United Methodist Church, 3rd Ward, Houston. Ironically, the lights in the church sanctuary were not working the day of the concert; thus, creating a dramatic setting as the sun set through the church’s gorgeous stained glass windows. With wonderful acoustics in the church, and the evening sun filling the sanctuary, the concert made a big impact on the audience. The “Mozart Effect” on the 50+ attendees in audience was palpable.

While the church was not full, those in attendance reflected a broad outreach of our organizing around the city. We had a number of pastors, several members of the Ebony Opera Guild, members of our director’s church, Chinese contacts of the Schiller Institute, and a few members of the Riverside Church. Many attending knew Maestro Duckens only as a great singer and were amazed to discover he is also a great conductor! Also in attendance was the vocal coach from another local opera company, as well as the Choir Master from a local church.  A couple drove over an hour after they had seen the concert advertised on an online blog. Before the concert, while speaking to a member of the chorus, the couple was very curious about the connection between Schiller the poet, economics, politics, and music but as they were leaving, they shook the member’s hand and promised they were going to look up Schiller when they got home.  One of the directors from a homeless center was amazed. He had never heard Mozart performed before and had no idea about his role in the American Revolution. Another woman, employed by the church, told a member of the chorus she used to be a singer until she developed nodes on her vocal chords and could no longer sing the high soprano notes. Imagine her fascination when she learned we sing at the C=256 pitch to preserve the human voice and instruments! During the performance she was observed singing softly with every Spiritual. Another attendee, who has followed the work of the Schiller Institute and chorus member Kesha Rogers’ campaigns for congress, told a member afterwards that this concert had “healed him” since he had just suffered the loss of a child two weeks ago.

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Worth noting is the impact the Mozart Solemn Vespers on this audience, many of whom knew the Spirituals well. One of the “church ladies” remarked to a chorus member, “you guys were full of the Spirit—even the Mozart was like that!” In observing the ladies during the concert, he noted how they looked at each other in amazement during the intense contrapuntal sections. One turned to two others and mouthed, “I want to clap” after the Laudate Dominum, but held herself back, as did the rest of the audience, until we had completed the entire work.  Following the event, we had a small reception where several of the attendees joined us for discussion; people were just beaming with joy.

Several people inquired about joining our chorus. This was certainly on a higher level than anything that we have done before. We truly unified and brought the community together from all walks of life around beautiful bel-canto music that moved the mind and soul. We were so happy to be joining our friends there in NY as both choruses sang in harmony together in different space times.

For more information about the Schiller Community Chorus or how to join, visit our Houston Chorus page.


Houston Chorus Performs Mozart’s Vespers & Spirituals

The Houston Schiller Institute Community Chorus invites you to their performance of

Mozart’s Solemn Vespers, K.339 & Selections from African American Spirituals

Sunday, May 5th, 2019

Riverside United Methodist Church, 4920 Cullen Blvd, Houston, TX 77004
Conducted by Maestro Dorceal Duckens

Both pieces performed at the Verdi tuning of c=256 Hz.

Admission is free, suggested donation $10.00

RSVP


Lift Every Voice: Towards a Renaissance of Classical Culture

On Friday, January 25, the Schiller Institute Houston Community Chorus invited members of the community to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at an event in southwest Houston.

Texas Schiller Institute spokesman Brian Lantz opened the event highlighting the shifts occurring globally towards greater cooperation, and that Dr. King knew the only way to create a durable peace was through the reconciliation of differences and non-violent cooperation, even if some attempt to stifle it. He described how King saw cooperation through the idea of agapic, unconditional love for humanity, as expressed in the first Corinthians. Dr. King was an avid lover of classical music and opera, as was his wife, Coretta Scott King, a trained pianist and classical singer.

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Texas Schiller Institute head Brian Lantz’s opening remarks on Dr. King.

The chorus opened the concert with a four part polyphony of the anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, followed by a collage of short audio speeches by Dr. King. The program continued with four selections from the Mozart Vespers, Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus”, a traditional Chinese folk song, “Jasmine flower” (Mo Li Hua), and a number of spiritual selections, one of which was led by tenor Brian Lantz.  Among the highlights of the evening were the solo spiritual performances of  “Go Down Moses” sung by Maestro Dorceal Duckens, and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” sung by Kesha Rogers.

Maestro Dorceal Duckens singing 'Go Down Moses'.

Maestro Dorceal Duckens singing ‘Go Down Moses’.

The audience was truly transformed by the power of the music and the selection of clips from Dr. King intertwined. At the end of the event the audience was asked to stand and cross arms and join in in singing “We Shall Overcome.”

The Houston Schiller Institute Community Chorus.

The Houston Schiller Institute Community Chorus.

Newer members to the chorus expressed how happy they were to sing with the chorus.  Everyone was overjoyed by the experience and you had a sense that the concert had a transforming quality on everyone. It was not just entertainment, and no one left the room as the same person they were when they entered.