14thSeason IMCC Community Choir Concert – May 19 & 21, 2015 A Summary of Writing Responses
Bridge over Troubled Water
“When you’re weary, feelin’ small, when tears are in your eyes- I will dry them all;
I’m on your side Oh, when times get rough and friends just can’t be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water – I will lay me down.”
“Bridge” conjures up the flooding of a stream with violent turbulence. A bridge provides safe passage to beyond.
What strikes me is how firm and stable people being bridges have to be. You can’t be a bridge if you are being tossed in the currents too, so its a person who can rise above the chaos and stay firm. Those people are not always plentiful, but they are treasures to find, and it is awesome to be able to be that for others.
The melody of the chorus sounds like a phrase shaped like a bridge. It creates images of support, care, sacrifice for others and checking in to see others needs…reflecting on the many ways in my life people and situations have been a bridge for me…My intention is to be open to receive those supports and feel the care so I can progress positively ahead.
The “Bridge” melody is a beautiful thought. Certainly the choir is a bridge between insiders and outsiders, between the incarcerated community and the surrounding communities…Each new season, each new inside and outside member adds to the structure, the strength and the reach of the bridge.
I was a child of the 60s and 70s so I grew up listening to Simon and Garfunkel…Few songs remain relevant decades after they have been written. “Bridge” has always meant friendship to me…Now that my wife is indeed a “silver haired girl,” the song is complete in my mind. We don’t have to be alone in this world is the message that I hear.
Down to the River to Pray
“As I went down to the river to pray, studyin’ about that good ol‘ way and who shall wear the starry crown, Good Lord, show me the way.
O sisters…O brothers lets go down, lets go down to the river to pray.”
There are some really great songs in the mix this time around. It’s hard to choose the one I like best, but I love that we are doing “Down to the River.” The first time I heard the song in the movie it captured my heart. People are singing off in the distance and we are led powerfully in to the baptismal scene…warms my heart every time we sing it.
What would it be like up on a mountain covered with fire and smoke? We want God close, but a holy God is terrifying to those who have rebelled. He doesn’t want to scare us away. He wants us to know the real situation, to know our need and the One who wants a relationship with us.
Song of Your Heart
“You are becoming the song of your heart how. beautiful it is…as the flower blossoms forth.
Feel the earth in your toes, Oh, my child you’ll never know, what tomorrow brings, so SINS!
Rise before the morning light, Let your soul take its flight, God is with you listening, so SING!
Our hearts are the most beautiful thing in our bodies. Different songs can reflect our moods and how we want people to really see us.
At the times in my life when I’ve lost significant loved ones to death, I have a hard time listening to most any music…It all makes me cry. So I guess music does really pull at my heart strings.
“I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes. You used to rock me in the cradle of your arms, you said you’d hold me till the pains of life were gone. You said you’d comfort me in times like these and now I need you, and now I need you and you are gone.” Wanting memories conjures up the soul to be in a tribal village of the rain forest which is disappearing…Have we destroyed the beauty of the world with our doom, disaster shaking the world apart…It is through pride and inner spirits that we can make a difference in this world, and thus make the beauty not just memories in our mind.
What Song Do You Enjoy Singing the most? What Songs Do You Miss?
What a great question! I spend so much time thinking about what songs/themes are most appropriate for choir…looking closely at lyrics, difficulty of arrangement, balance of slow-fast songs, what keys they are in…the people in our choir and any particular issues we might be going through…As far as “missing” them, they are like friends I love but haven’t seen in a while, but friends I can not see again in the same way because they have changed…moved on.
Dr. Cohen, I doubt that most of the inside choir members understand the depth of your commitment and the enormity of the task that you have in choosing just the right songs for us to sing at a concert. Every song that becomes a memory is like a friend, as you say…My favorite songs are those that bring a smile, or a tear…touch peoples hearts, leaving a lasting impression – like a friend.
Last year I worked with a fifth grader on a Power Point about George Washington. All the books we looked at said that he had good character and was admired by his men. He didn’t seem to seek leadership, but was given it by people who respected and trusted him…He often went amongst his men to encourage them…one of the most amazing attributes about Washington was that he was able to “walk away from the power for the good of the country.”
George Washington, like other great men and women throughout history, knew that success was not determined by his current or past circumstances and failures. Sir Walter Scott was crippled; John Bunyan was locked in prison; Abraham Lincoln was raised in poverty; Franklin Roosevelt lived with paralysis; Glenn Cunningham in 1939 set a world record fro running a mile in 4 minutes and 6.7 seconds, after being severely burned in a school house fire and having the doctors tell him he would never walk again; Ludwig Von Beethoven, the great composer, was deaf; Itzhak Pearlman, the great concert violinist was paralyzed from the age of four and Albert Einstein was described as a “slow learner” and “slightly retarded” and now consider his brilliance….Our attitude is what determines our success in life…and what we do with our attitude.
We may make grand plans for ourselves, but the reality is that we don’t really know what challenges are waiting for us just around the comer, much less what we may be called to do years from now. Each lesson learned, each failed experiment or attempt may be a step in the right direction leading us to be prepared for whatever comes. I believe that God leads us into that preparation by putting desires in our hearts. That is why I encourage people to follow through on lifelong desires that they have put off.
Something to Share with Dr. Cohen:
I think it is interesting that, even as inside and outside singers change over to some degree, we are maturing as a choir. Parts that seemed hard before are being sung and sung well…Even with that maturing growth, the focus and direction of the choir is still what it was from day one: Using the concert experience to learn and teach, support and understand community to community – inside the fence to outside the fence – inside the choir to outside the choir – coming together in music, hope and purpose.
The choir is the best experience here…brings all to gather…Mot only the rapid change in notes, but in expression, synchronization of syllables, closing consonants, tone and volume control. You have and continue to give a lot to the experience of others here, through your love of music.
Don’t Fence Me In
“Oh give me land, lots of land under starry skies above – Don’t fence me in.
Let me ride thru the wide open country that I love – Don’t fence me in.
Let me be by myself in the evening breeze, Listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees Send me off forever, but I ask you please – Don’t fence me in”
I don’t go out to the yard her often because it so depresses me to see the fences and barbed wire and to see the cars flying by as people go about their lives…someday I will be back out in the world.
A graduate student is studying autonomy – the idea of an individual making his or her own choices – freedom, in a sense to follow one’s inner authority. In schools, relationships, and prisons, power dynamics may impede people’s ability to be autonomous. For example, in a music class a teacher might tell the student to play a certain composition in a particular way. If that type of instruction not balanced with opportunities for the learners to explore their own musical ideas, the learners can feel “fenced in” to the directions from the teacher (sage on the stage, rather than guide on the side). When I feel fenced in, I go to yoga or nia classes and reconnect with my body, honoring where I am, and reset positive intentions.
We all feel fenced in at times…when I feel that way, I ask God to intervene and give me patience.