Bloomington peace choir keeps the focus on community

By Bianca Fernandez Special to Hoosier Times | 

Bianca Fernandez | Herald-Times

Bianca Fernandez | Herald-Times

In 2010, Kate Domingo and Leah Savion sought a new singing experience.

They created the Bloomington Peace Choir after leaving the International Vocal Ensemble (IVE). They wanted to create a choir parallel to the IVE, but rather than focussing on professionalism, they focused on community.

Today, seven years later, the Bloomington Peace Choir has not only expanded in size but it has made such a large impression on the community that they have been invited to perform for an estimated 500 people for the 32nd Annual Women’s History Month Luncheon on March 22.

What makes this performance unique is that all members of the Bloomington Peace Choir are not professionally trained vocalists. Some are former journalists, others are college professors, some are students and there are also retirees.

Leah Savion explained that she and Domingo wanted to create, “a true community choir,” and they did just that. They have not only proven to be a tight knit community by the way they interact with one another during rehearsal but in the way the choir has been ran over the past seven years.

Ten months into starting the choir, Domingo passed away at the age 36 due to cancer. Savion says that Domingo, “gave a terrific terrific foundation,” which allowed the choir to, “maintain itself without a director for several years.” Since then, they have created a board committee that works directly with the group. Their director Loida Pineda also says she makes a conscious effort to involve the choir during rehearsals.

Pineda believes that involving everyone in decision-making process does not only make the choir more meaningful to them, but it also helps them become better vocalists. “I am convinced this is the instrument you were born with, and you should learn how to use it,” explained Pineda as she pointed to her throat.

“Loida has taught us there is a sound that goes beyond hitting the right notes,” said Justice Saint Rae, choir and board member.

According to a statement made by the Bloomington Peace Choir, “Choirs are communities of people who love to sing in harmony. They create music together by learning how to listen and how to blend. Harmony is essential to world peace and only exists when we are willing to both honor our cultural, personal, and political differences and celebrate that which unites us all as the human family.”

Pineda is working on her doctoral in music education. When directing the choir, she does not just give them words to sing off. She teaches them how to read notes, harmonize with one another, and how to pay attention to the rest of the choir in order to understand how to shape the music and arrange the contributing voices.

“In Jacobs we forget music belongs to the people. It is part of our daily lives and it makes a difference,” said Pineda.

The Bloomington Peace Choir’s mission to promote peace in the community is a prime example of how music can make a difference in someone’s daily life. “I find singing, because after a whole day you’re tired, but I find coming here after a long day energizes you in a different way,” said Lynn Greenfield who has been a member for one and a half years.

In addition to making a difference the Bloomington Peace Choir promotes being inclusive and socially engaged. Anyone with little to no musical experience is encouraged to join, and no required auditions.

Furthermore, the Bloomington Peace Choir recognizes the diverse community that lives in Bloomington and in order to include those communities, they learn songs in different languages and belong to several cultures.

Recently they performed at the Monroe County Public Library for a Martin Luther King celebration. Savion said they are currently looking into buying music in Hebrew for a Jewish performance.

According to Saint Rae, the choir is learning a handful of different songs because they are, “trying to build a repertoire with the community, so we are invited perform for various groups of the community.”

Member fees are waived in the summer, and are $30 per fall and spring semester, people who are interested are welcomed to join for two weeks at no cost. While fees are used to pay the director, venues, instrumentalists who play on performance days and buy music, Saint Rae said, “It is more important you come, than you give us money.”


More information

Find the Bloomington Peace Choir online at www.facebook.com/BloomingtonPeaceChoir/

For more information on the group, contact Justice Saint Rain at bloomingtonpeacechoir@gmail.com or 812-834-5693.

The choir rehearses 7 p.m. Wednesdays in the Bell Trace CommUnity Room. Membership is $30 per semester or $60 for the entire year. Scholarships are available.

The choir will perform March 22 at the Womens Day Luncheon. For more information on the event, visit https://bloomington.in.gov/documents/viewDocument.php?document_id=4678.

© Herald Times 2017

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