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Monday, June 17, 2024

Indianapolis Symphonic Choir expanding access, education

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Throughout the civil rights protests of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, more businesses and organizations began addressing racism and exclusion within. While the protests have waned and the end of the pandemic is near, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir (ISC) wants to keep the conversation going.

Two virtual events — “In-Choir-Ing Minds” and “Virtual Sacred Masterworks” — will immerse audiences into music spanning centuries, languages and national borders.

While some of the music included in the programming comes from household names such as Beethoven and Mozart, ISC artistic director Eric Stark wanted to celebrate composers who have largely gone unrecognized.

Virtual Sacred Masterpiece, which will be streamed at 7 p.m. June 3, will feature 11 songs from a diverse group of composers.

“We wanted to do some familiar things, like Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony,” Stark said. “But, especially in this time of pandemic and our society really trying to examine how we treat each other, we wanted to find music that doesn’t get performed as much as it should.”

The concert will include pieces written by people of color, composers of various nationalities and religious backgrounds. Indianapolis composer David Baker’s piece, “Five Vignettes” will be included in the concert, with bits of Hoosier writer Mari Evans’ poetry included with the piece.

Local musician and music sociologist Joshua Thompson will join Stark and the ISC on May 25 for “In-Choir-Ing Minds” event, which will give audiences a deep dive into classical music. Intended for people who haven’t had a musical education, Thompson hopes viewers walk away with a deeper appreciation for the genre.

“When we think of education, we take a professional approach to that,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t have to be that serious. People are smarter than we give them credit for, and it’s a great thing for people to have access to and experience different types of music. If they don’t walk away loving a piece, at least they respect it.”

One disparity COVID-19 made clear was the socioeconomic divide. What’s more, the recession that came with the pandemic forced many arts organizations to reimagine accessibility. These programs are the first in a year that have an admission fee, but Stark said patrons have the option of getting a free access code if they’ve been financially impacted by the pandemic. Further, Thompson envisions many arts organizations continuing virtual components for future events to maximize accessibility.

“It makes the arts accessible to so many people,” Thompson said. “You can have closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing community and make it easier for people who may be physically disabled. … Virtual components make art accessible; it makes it human.”

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

For more information on Indianapolis Symphonic Choir events and tickets, visit indychoir.org. 

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