New Virtual Choirs
Where We Find Ourselves Virtual Choir
Hello! I’m composer Michael Bussewitz-Quarm. I write choral music that engages singers and audiences with the leading social issues of our time. I’d love for you to join me in a virtual choir for my latest piece, Where We Find Ourselves.
Where We Find Ourselves is inspired by an exhibit and book of the same name, which feature the portraits of Hugh Mangum, a photographer who lived in Durham, North Carolina during the Jim Crow era. He is unique in that he photographed people of diverse racial and economic backgrounds and was incredibly sensitive to the details in the portraits: the clothing, hair, expression, and physicality he captured truly represent humanity’s richness. It is significant that his work reflects racial diversity during a time of violent segregation. As Margaret Sartor, on of the curators and authors of the book, Where We Find Ourselves, observes, his portraits “indicate that an unbiased and open-door policy existed in his studio.”
What We Need & What You Get
This project begins this fall with a series of video “journeys” that explore the themes in the portraits, the history of this era, and the music and lyrics as they are being written. These journeys will be hosted by me, lyricist Chantal Sellers, photographers, curators, and authors of the book Where We Find Ourselves, Margaret Sartor and Alex Harris, as well as Dr. Sherry Boyd, Humanities Coordinator for Dallas College, and Tina Sayers, Executive Director of Maple Seed Creative Consulting.
All virtual choir members will be invited to join a private Facebook group hosted by me so that you can meet one another, share your thoughts and observations, and build community with your fellow singers. In this way, we begin our artistic journey with introspection and discussion, to deepen our understanding and open our minds and hearts to the topics we will be singing about.
Where We Find Ourselves will be 20-22 minutes long, in five movements, for SATB choir. The work will be of medium difficulty, with original lyrics written by Chantal Sellers. The music will be released in January, 2021, along with rehearsal tracks for you to use to practice and record your part. I will host recorded virtual “rehearsals” with each section to share my vision for phrasing, shaping, and overall musical ideas. These rehearsals will be recorded for those who will be preparing their part on their own.
In addition, you may join at the Premium Virtual Choir Member level and receive a one-on-one musical coaching with me. The final video will be edited together in the spring of 2021 and delivered to you and shared online so that the message can spread and grow!
The message of these photographs, that we must look and listen deeper to one another, and that while much time has passed, our country still has so much work to do to overcome racism, is timely and urgent. As we look around at our country and our world, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the many challenges we see. It’s important to know that we can make a difference by educating ourselves and using our talents to inform and inspire others.
In addition, many of us who have found a home in choral music are missing our usual outlet for singing during the pandemic. Our weekly rehearsal routine has been disrupted to keep our communities safe. But we still need community, we still need purpose and a way to channel our artistic talents for our own happiness and to serve others. This project will have an immense impact on our lives and on the world as we come together in the journeys this fall and in song in the spring.
I truly believe we can change the world through the power of music. Choral music is the perfect medium to raise awareness, engage ourselves and our community in dialogue, inspire compassion, and incite meaningful change. I hope you will open your hearts and raise your voice with me to create this new piece of music.
Risks & Challenges
I am committed to writing this piece, hosting the video journeys, and creating the virtual choir video. I am an experienced composer and conductor with an extensive background in writing music, running rehearsals, and bringing a performance project to fruition.
One of the great things about a virtual choir is that it can work with a large, medium, or small group of singers. Because everyone will have access to the rehearsal tracks, I expect a high quality performance no matter the number of singers. I would love to have a large four-part chorus for this project, but the piece will work beautifully with a smaller ensemble if necessary.
If my financial goal is not reached, all commitments listed in the “perks” will be honored, the video journeys will go live, and the virtual choir video will still be created. In this way, I and my business are absorbing the risk of this project. There is no risk to donors.
Other Ways You Can Help
I would love for you to raise your voice and sing with us, but I understand this may not be possible for everyone who supports the mission of this project.
You can help amplify the message of this piece by sharing this project with choral singers who do not have the opportunity to sing this season, or with choirs who are working to program their season.
Use the Indiegogo Share Tools to share this project on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Visit my website and subscribe to my newsletter to be the first to know about future projects, and to be notified when the virtual choir video for this project goes live.
Hugh Mangum photographs courtesy of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University