A conductor, wearing a mask, uses hand gestures while leading a choir performance.

University Arts Chorale releases recording of special performance to show solidarity with Ukraine

The University Arts Chorale has recorded a performance of a special score released for free by an internationally renowned composer to show solidarity with Ukraine.

The group recorded its rendition of "A Ukrainian Prayer," which British composer John Rutter wrote in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. When the Chorale's conductor, Kody Wallace, saw that Rutter had waived rights to the music, he said he was eager to share in this act of solidarity through music by recording the piece.

The piece was released April 15 on the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance YouTube channel. 

Wallace said as he struggled with his dismay over the situation in Ukraine, he was moved to see that Rutter created music as a response to similar feelings. He said he wanted the GVSU students to be able to share in this moment.

"We wanted to use our craft and art form to try to have the most positive response we could," said Wallace, assistant professor of music education. "It was an opportunity for us to work to make something beautiful so we can give it away."

Members of the Chorale dove in to quickly learn the challenging piece, ultimately performing it after a rehearsal schedule that was shorter than typical for performances. He said the performance allowed everyone a chance to express themselves.

"Music is a unifying force," Wallace said. "When we sing together, we are all thinking the same thing at the same time. There's a real security in that."

A choir performs with a conductor standing before the members, all of whom are wearing masks and holding notebooks.
Members of a choir, wearing masks and holding notebooks, sing.
A conductor, wearing a mask, uses a hand gesture to lead choir members, some of whom are seen from behind.
The GVSU University Arts Chorale performed "A Ukrainian Prayer" for a special recording that was released on April 15.

Joe Mayer, a music education major and member of the Chorale, said the process of making music together in a choir setting is rewarding, even more so for this performance.

"We were able to provide a tangible way to say we stand with the people of Ukraine," Mayer said. "I hope it demonstrates our solidarity. We are very privileged in that we are free to make music free of stress, free of worry.

"This is a small way we can use our privilege to encourage others to find ways to support people as well."

Savanna Durham, also a member of the Chorale, said it was important to be part of the collective voice globally urging people to keep paying attention to Ukraine. 

Durham, a music education major who had a solo soprano part in the performance, said the emotion grew over rehearsals of the piece, as did the connection among Chorale members.

"A lot of times when I feel helpless and I feel like I don’t know how to express my emotions, I turn to music," Durham said.


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