April 25 (EIRNS) – The Schiller Institute NYC Chorus & with friends from Ibero-America and Europe broadcast an uplifting concert this afternoon, which was introduced as follows by Jen Pearl:
Good afternoon, and welcome to `Beethoven’s Credo: Believe in the Future, a World Without War.’ My name is Jen Pearl and I am the chair of the board for the Schiller NYC chorus.
On December 17th, 2019, Beethoven’s 249th birthday, our chorus, the SI NYC Chorus participated in an event at Carnegie of the Foundation for the Revival of Classical Culture, opening up what was supposed to be a year-long celebration of the Beethoven 250th year. We performed the choral movement of the Ninth Symphony there, with the preeminent Gerard Schwarz as conductor. We took as our objective to perform Beethoven’s great Missa Solemnis a year later.
Then we all know what happened. While many choruses and arts organizations were forced to pull back during the lockdown, the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus pushed ahead, despite the challenges, because we know how important it is to sing beautiful and profound music in times of crisis—music, which connects us at the higher level of humanity as a single immortal species. We managed to present virtual performances of the Kyrie and Gloria last December.
Today’s concert is truly special because it features another movement the Missa Solemnis.
And while we are excited and joyful about bringing you the Credo movement of the Missa Solemnis and other beautiful selections tonight, we are also performing this concert in the context of a world fraught with crises, including an increasing potential of world war and starvation in Yemen and Syria. The beauty of tonight’s program, which reflects the very best of mankind’s creativity, is also very much in direct contrast or dissonance with the very worst actions being done at the hand of human beings, right now as we speak, toward entire nations and populations of children.
Beethoven once said that, if people understood his music, there would be no war.
On this day, April 25th, 76 years ago there was an event that resonates powerfully still today with that sentiment, that mankind should not settle disputes with violence. This was the day during WW II that American and Soviet troops met from the east and the west at the Elbe River near Torgau Germany, south of Berlin, ensuring an early end of the war, and thus became known as `Spirit of the Elbe.’ We dedicate this concert to that spirit which is much needed today. So we will begin our concert today with this short video introduction.
Near the end of the concert, Jen Pearl made the following closing remarks:
Our final offering this evening is Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus. Mozart composed this motet in a perfect way to evoke from you the awe you would experience when seeing the body of Christ for the first time. Imagine what your reaction would be then as you listen, think of how Mozart evokes that in you!. Mozart’s opening words are `hail, hail true body. . .’ As with any great classical work, the singer and you, the audience, can relive the experience of that actual moment in history and therefore experience true immortality.
We are now in a moment of history, where we need to evoke that quality of empathy and immortality in ourselves in order to take all of mankind into our hearts and souls. As we referenced at the beginning, we invite you to join the chorus of voices that are calling for an end to these wars, sanctions, and starvation, particularly in Yemen and Syria. You can find Mrs. LaRouche’s urgent call in today’s program and I invite you to join us. Thank you, and now you will hear Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
On November 9th, Schiller Institute activists and supporters in Houston, Texas came together to celebrate Friedrich Schiller’s 260th Birthday. In what has become an annual tradition in Houston, the afternoon of music, poetry and drama welcomed many participants, and was again held at Houston’s beautiful and cozy French language and cultural center.
This year some 60 people joined in our celebration, including those who were brought by friends or family. The number of new guests was striking, and many expressing their happiness at finding something that lifted them above the ugliness of everyday events.
In preparation, there had been a discussion as to how we could make this year’s celebration a means, providing our friends and activists with the tools they need, to also help elevate others above the ugliness and banality of the culture we are otherwise surrounded by. As a result, our Schillerfest was organized as a thoroughly composed afternoon of music, poetry and drama (not to mention good food), with this idea in mind. Among the highlights were classical poems in Russian, German, and Chinese presented by native speakers, who have become active with the Schiller Institute.
The afternoon began with an introduction by Houston Schiller Institute representative Brian Lantz, noting the triple anniversary of the 260th birthday of Friedrich Schiller, the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Schiller Institute. Schiller himself had embarked upon a vigorous organizing campaign, to provide an aesthetic education of his fellow men and women, recruiting allies and collaborators, a process that continues today. His writings – such as “On the Aesthetic Education of Man” and “Theatre as a Moral Institution” reached around the globe, as did his plays, poems and histories. They were taken to heart by Pushkins’s circles in Russia, the circles of Keats and Shelly in England, and influencing education reform in China from the beginning of the 20th century down to today. Fredrick Douglas, the great American abolitionist, former slave, orator, author, diplomat and friend of Abraham Lincoln, writing in his newspaper, North Star, named Schiller “the poet of freedom,” and “one of us.” It was then Beethoven’s 9th symphony, set to Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy” that was performed in Berlin, in celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago. So the world has indeed been moved, shaped and made better by a poet, through “mere words.” So we are reminded that we are not animals, wedded to sense perception. We communicate instead in terms of discovered great ideas and principles which we apply willfully and freely to transform the world.
Houston Schiller Institute Community Chorus.
The Houston Schiller Chorus opened the music program with two four-part choral pieces by Haydn, and a chorale by Bach. This was followed by a very moving aria from Verdi’s setting of Schiller’s “Don Carlo” by our maestro Dorceal Duckens. Dan Leach then introduced a program of poetic works, provoking all to understand—as Shelly and Lyndon LaRouche developed—that what is poetic is not always in verse. This section began with excerpts from Shelley’s ‘A Defense of Poetry”. This was followed by “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty,” Schiller’s “Columbus” in English and German, and “Tree of Fate” by Pushkin in Russian. The first half of the program was closed by the Schiller/Schubert piece “Dithyrambe” and two spirituals, Burleigh’s setting of “Deep River” and “Every Time I Feel the Spirit,” performed by the chorus.
Dorceal Duckens, left, and Dan Leach, right.
After a short intermission, the entire audience reassembled. Everyone indeed stayed to the end of the full program which was about four hours in total. The second half of the program was opened with Schubert’s “Staendchen.” Then were presented two contrasting scenes from Schiller’s dramas. The first scene was the meeting between Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart from the play “Mary Stuart.” In this scene, neither of the main protagonists is able to overcome their own pride and rage and the future of England which could have been secured is lost. The second scene is from “William Tell,” where Gertrude Stauffacher organizes her husband Walter to put freedom before material possessions and to stand up to dictatorship. Both scenes were fully staged, with costumes and memorized dialogue.
Scenes from Schiller’s dramas.
The final part of the program then began with a trio singing Beethoven’s beautiful canon setting of the final words of Schiller’s Maid of Orleans—”Kurz ist der Schmerz; ewig is die Freude”. This was followed by a very moving reading of Beethoven’s “Heiligstadt Testament,” followed by Shakespeare’s Sonnet 66. A Chinese activist then read a poem from the Tang dynasty period of China with the beautiful Chinese characters projected behind her and a classical Chinese instrument playing in the background. The poetry program was completed by a poem by Dan Leach, “Song of the Crab Nebula” with a beautiful image of the Crab Nebula projected behind on the screen.
Throughout, members of the audience were being provoked to recall what they actually already knew: the power of metaphor and of the beautiful. As when experiences and stories are recalled from our childhood, or when we remind ourselves of beautiful parables from the Bible or drawn from secular writings. Or when we recount a few profound lines from the Gettysburg Address of Abraham Lincoln. (Even his name has become a metaphor of sublime.) Or even a snippet of a profound speech by Martin Luther King. These metaphors are the means by which we touch one another, prompting recognition of a higher, unseen principles in a powerful way. Consider the words, “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” These ‘mere words’ echoed around the world, and inspire Mankind today!
The beautiful afternoon program was closed by the Houston Schiller Chorus performance of three spirituals, conducted by Maestro Dorceal Duckins. Those spirituals were “Soon Ah Will Be done,” “Give Me Jesus,” and a song which Helga Zepp-LaRouche suggested several years ago for the Belt and Road Initiative, “Get on Board.” That spiritual has become the virtual theme song of the Houston Schiller Institute chorus.
Indeed, as Friedrich Schiller advocated, the individual is awakened to truth through beauty. All the participants in the Houston event experienced that in a some fresh way, as the beauty, metaphors and ironies of great artists were brought to life. As Schiller said of his plays, the intent is that the audience leave the theater better, uplifted persons, and so with poetry and song. So it was with the Houston Schillerfest. So encouraged, these awakening capacities may become subject to the will, to ennoble, and thereby for the exercise of true freedom.
”Houston, Shackleton Base Here: Artemis 3 has landed!” You may be saying, “What? What is Shackleton Base? Isn’t it Tranquility? Artemis 3 has landed? I thought it was the Eagle.” Yes, it was the Eagle, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin becoming the first men to walk on the Moon. Armstrong declared, “Houston, Tranquility Base here: The Eagle has landed.”
That extraordinary accomplishment of American astronauts landing on the surface of the Moon for the first time—“in peace for all mankind”—was followed by twelve more astronauts, participating in another six missions. The last mission was in 1972. That was the Apollo program, a program to go to the Moon and explore the lunar surface. The Apollo 17 astronauts would be the last to walk on the surface of the Moon. Following that last mission, despite several additional planned missions, the program was unceremoniously ended and funding for the future Apollo missions was cut. However, the cutbacks didn’t start abruptly in 1972; the mission was being chipped away at even as the Apollo program was getting started—the peak in funding was in 1966.
“Have you heard? We are going, not back, but forward to the Moon again! This time to stay!” The Shackleton Crater is the proposed landing site for the next Moon mission. Shackleton is an impact crater that lies at the lunar South Pole.
In December 2017, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, calling for the return of American astronauts to the surface of the Moon before the end of the next decade. In March of this year the plan and the timeline were accelerated, and it was announced by Vice President Pence, on behalf of the President, that NASA and its administrator, Jim Bridenstine, would be charged with a new mission to launch American astronauts to the surface of the Moon—they will be the first woman and the next man to walk on the lunar surface since 1972. This time, they will build a sustainable presence, and will develop the platform, technologies, and resources required to prepare the way for American astronauts to the land on the surface of Mars.
The bold and exciting new mission to return American astronauts to the surface of the Moon is Project Artemis, named for Apollo’s twin sister Artemis, the goddess of the Moon. Well, you may ask, this all sounds very exciting and optimistic, but how will it be done? We haven’t been back in nearly 50 years. What will be different now? How will we guarantee that we not only achieve the goal of returning to the Moon and go to Mars, but build a commitment and a policy with lasting impact for several generations to come?
Houston Meeting, Shooting for the Moon
The Schiller Institute is hosting conferences and seminars around the world, not only to educate people on the requirements for returning Americans to the lunar surface in 2024 and building a lunar base by 2028, but going beyond—setting forth a vision for the next two to three generations of space exploration.
In Houston, Texas on July 25, just one day after the 50th anniversary of the splash down of the Apollo 11, the Schiller Institute had its most recent such event. The theme of the community meeting was, “50 Years After Apollo: NASA’s Project Artemis, A New Generation of Space Explorers Emerges.” The meeting, held at the Bayland Community Center, was a major outreach effort with broad attendance and participation. The audience included blue collar families from the Houston neighborhood, university students, a high school science club, friends of the Fabrication and Innovation Laboratory at a local college, robotics club members, families with NASA ties, members of several local AARP chapters who had previously invited the Houston Schiller Institute Chorus to their meetings, and longtime Schiller Institute activists. There was great excitement following the presentations.
The environment was electric from the start! Attendees were greeted with a fascinating “Fabrication Lab” exhibit on 3D printing, overseen by the lab’s supervisor. 3D printing in its industrial applications is known as additive manufacturing and will be a crucial feature of building cities on the Moon and Mars.
There were also NASA memorabilia and models of a scramjet and a Space Shuttle. Also on display was an exhibit from the Houston Robotic Club, which brought a working robotic Moon/Mars Rover, built to NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) specifications. Discussion was continuous around the tables, including the Schiller Institute’s table and a display of Fusion and 21st Century Science and Technology magazines. Attendees got a direct idea of breakthrough work in 3D printing and robotics applications that are relevant for use here on Earth and in space travel and exploration. A group of high school students, all members of a robotics club, had a great time at both exhibits. Many people saw a 3D printer and a robot, up close, for the first time, and were able to talk to experts about the technologies involved.
Attendees also gained greater insight into international cooperation in space by seeing material from a project called “United in Space.” The project’s mission is to promote space cooperation between the United States and Russia. It is involved in creating and placing a statue of Neil Armstrong in Russia. The United in Space display included a scale model of the statue of Armstrong and announced that ground had been broken in Russia for the placement of a life-size statue. The Russian-American founder of United in Space has already placed a statue of Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human to fly in space, in Houston, Texas.
Project Artemis and International Cooperation
The program was opened by Kesha Rogers, Lyndon LaRouche’s representative in Houston, speaking for the Schiller Institute. She presented a dramatic overview of the Artemis Project, opening with a 3-minute NASA film titled, “We Are Going,” which drew applause and shouts from the entire room. Rogers outlined the Artemis Project with detailed slides drawn from NASA and NASA contractors, including the project’s phased development, emphasizing NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and President Trump’s declarations that international cooperation would be required for Project Artemis to succeed.
We need cooperation with Russia, Europe, India, Japan and China, and the more so because Trump has committed the United States to use the Moon as a jumping off place to go to Mars, Rogers explained. She made clear that this perspective had been laid out by economist and statesman Lyndon LaRouche, inspired by his collaboration with German-American rocket engineer Krafft Ehricke and many other scientists who worked with the Fusion Energy Foundation in the 1970s and 1980s.
A video except from a 2009 speech by LaRouche was shown, in which LaRouche outlined a future Mars mission as a “science driver” project for the United States, which would simultaneously require cooperation with Russia, China, and other nations, and thereby contribute to securing peace on Earth. Rogers then introduced a special guest, the Vice Consul of the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Houston, Dr. Viacheslav Levchick, PhD, who received a warm greeting from the audience.
The View From Russia
Vice-Consul Levchick outlined some of his country’s work in space, stressing that he thought that cooperation between Russia and the U.S. had “a solid basis,” based on his visits to Johnson Space Center and the cooperative work on the International Space Station. He talked about some of Russia’s recent contributions, including the “Single Pass” delivery of astronauts to the Moon, which shortens the trip from six hours to two hours, saving astronauts and cosmonauts from exhausting trips as well as saving on costs and equipment. This drew audible agreement from the audience.
He also underscored the important breakthroughs in astronomy that are expected from the Specter RG telescope satellite, launched in July. Russia has its own lunar program, but the Vice-Consul wanted to stress the importance of ongoing cooperation, saying, “In 1998 when the first models of the ISS were launched, it was the U.S. and Russia who did it.”
Now there is a rapidly growing private space sector in many countries. “This is like the dreams of our fathers—or my grandfathers,” the youthful Vice Consul added, drawing chuckles. “It is important that we can talk casually about such huge projects,” he said. All nations are going to the Moon’s South Pole, adding that helium-3, along with ice water, are the major resources being sought. Russia, he reported, plans a manned landing on the Moon by 2030 and a permanent presence by 2040, adding that India and China have similar plans. Vice Consul Levchik’s relaxed and humorous remarks were warmly received by the audience and elicited numerous questions.
The Last Time We Went to the Moon
The next speaker was retired NASA and TRW scientist F. Don Cooper, who began working at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama in 1962. Cooper, an Oklahoma native, was soon assigned, as a young physicist and mathematician, to develop the targeting equations for Trans-Lunar Injection (TLI), which guided the Apollo projects to the Moon. Then from Houston, Cooper worked on eight Apollo missions, including Apollo 11 and Apollo 13. He also worked on the Atlas Centaur, the Air Force Dyna-Soar space plane, and the early planned Mars mission NOVA rocket. Cooper gave a very exciting presentation, which took his audience to the Moon, landed on the Moon, and back to Earth with Apollo 11, with a model Saturn V rocket, astronaut voice recordings, graphics, and whiteboard sketches, all making it come alive.
Since his retirement, Don Cooper has found a new calling—that of encouraging a new generation of students to pursue a future in the physical sciences. He enjoys speaking to youth groups, among others, hoping to inspire the technology leaders of the future with his first-hand account of the events as they actually happened. “Of the seven primary people who did this, I am the last one alive,” said Cooper recently. “Students do not know much about Apollo since it all happened before they were born. My objective is to show them how it happened, emphasize that education is essential, and show how math and physics solve real-world problems.” Cooper makes the point that “Apollo 13 was saved by thousands of nerds.”
Mars and Beyond
Brian Lantz, Schiller Institute spokesperson in Texas, addressed the audience on the need for a science driver perspective to realize the full potential of a Moon-Mars colonization over the next 50 years, as developed by the great visionaries, Krafft Ehricke and Lyndon LaRouche. He made clear that a Moon-Mars program is needed for transforming human civilization. A program to fully colonize the Moon and Mars will require major breakthroughs in science and technology, including a crash program for the development of thermonuclear power and fusion propulsion systems for space travel. The ability to sustain a long-term human presence requires the building of major infrastructure and the building of functional and beautiful cities on the Moon and Mars. This will require construction from the Moon’s regolith.
Cutting-edge technologies will have to be further developed, including robotic machines for mining and the production and assembly of habitats on the Moon and Mars. More powerful lasers and other electromagnetic plasma beam systems will be required for communications, for additive construction and manufacturing, and the mining of helium-3. Lantz presented LaRouche’s idea, made famous in the 1988 “Woman on Mars” television broadcast, that we require a telescope with the aperture of the Mars orbit, a concept that drew surprised gasps from the audience. As Lyndon LaRouche outlined in 1986, we will build a civilization on Mars, with cities of hundreds of thousands of productive human beings, because that is what will be required.
What will such an investment cost us? A Moon-Mars project, over two or three generations, will cost us nothing, Lantz emphatically stated. The importance of the American System of economics and the re-creation of a credit system and National Bank, as was understood and developed by our nation’s first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, and used effectively by Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt will be necessary. We know this from the Apollo program, which returned 10 cents back for every penny we spent. How is that possible? The source of wealth is human creativity. We must unleash human creativity and reorganize the financial side of things accordingly. After all, we have done it before.
President John F. Kennedy launched one of the greatest economic recovery and national credit programs the nation has ever seen, through the unleashing of the creativity of the population through the Apollo program. Indeed, a Moon-Mars colonization program—advancing through the long-term success of the Artemis program and the advancement of mankind in the Solar system—will multiply the productivity of our civilization while it uplifts mankind, as every human being’s capacities will be required.
On Thursday evening, June 27, 2019, the Egyptian Consulate of Houston sponsored a symposium at the Arab American Cultural & Community Center in Houston, Texas. The Egyptian Consulate requested that the Schiller Institute co-sponsor the event with them. The theme of the Symposium was “Egypt after the Revolution.” The guests in attendance for the event included Consulates from several countries, including Mexico, Greece, and Russia. There were several friends and guest of the Schiller Institute, and representatives from the World Affairs Council, the Arab community in Houston, the Caribbean American Chamber, and a number of people representing the Houston’s energy sector.
Kesha Rogers, Egyptian Consul General Khaled Rizk, and Brian Lantz of the Schiller Institute.
Joining Houston Consul General of Egypt, the Honorable Khaled Rizk, was Brian Lantz, speaking for the Schiller Institute. Brian and the Schiller Institute’s bold perspective uplifted both the audience and the conference organizers.
Following an introduction, Consul General Rizk spoke and gave prepared remarks which reviewed the efforts of Egypt’s government, led by President El-Sisi to stabilize and rapidly grow Egypt’s economy after the “second revolution.” Consul General Rizk reviewed the ensuing rapid pace of developments since 2013, including future projects now underway, which include the new administrative capital, the industrial zones along the Suez. He also highlighted the new offshore natural gas discoveries and prospects for natural gas exports.
Brian Lantz took up the role of Egypt as a key leader in the development of the New Silk Road into West Asia and Africa—the emerging new center of world economic development. The Schiller Institute’s reports were featured. In the spirit of Egypt’s earlier role in Bandung Conference and the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement, Egypt is once again playing a leading role in south-south relations and world affairs, Lantz said. Lantz also pointed out the importance of Egypt’s diplomatic efforts, working among all the countries in West Asia and North Africa in particular, for peace and economic development. Lantz cited some of Egypt’s initiatives in Africa, and El-Sisi’s role as the new chairman of the African Union. The African Union is deeply involved in cooperation with the Belt and Road and promoting African integration. Now getting the economics right was stressed by Brian, with an outline of Lyndon LaRouche’s principles of physical economy. Africa’s emerging renaissance was thereby highlighted, with its population potential and such mega projects as Grand Inga and Transaqua.
Prior to the presentations there was a reception where people were given the opportunity to talk informally. Likewise, there was a great deal of lively discussion following the presentations. There was recognition and great respect for Lyn expressed by a number of people. A leader of the Arabic community told Brian he had been reading LaRouche’s material for years, exclaiming, “He is a genius. ” Another person, an Indian-American engineer, was very happy to hear of our work in support of the BRI and also volunteered his respect for LaRouche over the years. An Hispanic business women who saw our Silk Road report was so excited: she participated in an art contest as a student, and won first prize for a drawing of the original photograph of the Silk Road and camels, pictured on our original report.
The Schiller Institute participation in the event was very important and timely given the rapid pace of developments around the BRI and the growing recognition of Lyndon and Helga’s role in bringing about this beautiful new paradigm, as we have seen also with the recent events in San Francisco. The Schiller Institute was also an invited speaker at a Chinese consular event in Houston last week, for an audience high school students, with teachers, some media, and consular officials attending.
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.
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.