This program, previously known as Healing & Hope Through Song, is a unique collaboration which brings together a composer, lyricist, human services organization, and a community choir to illuminate an issue facing members of our community, and to celebrate the strength of the human spirit through a new work of text and music. Learn more about the 2017-18 collaboration below:

Love Never Forgets – World Premiere Concert
June 16, 2018 @ 2:00pm
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Saint Paul, MN
See the CBS News story

A jubilant celebration of the power of singing together, Love Never Forgets illustrates that life with Alzheimer’s can include personal creativity and contribution to community. This inspiring world premiere concert features the first-ever choral work illuminating life with Alzheimer’s – written with and performed by people with the disease and their caregivers sharing their stories, their voices and their creative passion. Come and experience the vocal power and visual presence of 170 Giving Voice Chorus members bringing into the world joyous and heartfelt music that has never been heard before! Love Never Forgets, with music and lyrics by Louisa Castner and Victor Zupanc, was commissioned through Healing & Hope Through Song, an American Composers Forum (ACF) residency program. Presented in collaboration with Giving Voice and MacPhail Center for Music, this new composition celebrates the stories of people with Alzheimer’s and their care partners and the joy of singing together in community.

Giving Voice co-founder and co-president Marge Ostroushko affirms, “this is an extraordinary opportunity for the singers to hear their stories transformed into a compelling, contemporary musical work that will bring audiences a new awareness of the creativity, resilience, and joy that exist in people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.” Click here to read news about the project and an interview with Victor and Louisa.

Louisa Castner & Victor Zupanc

Victor Zupanc has composed music for nearly 300 plays at some of the most prestigious theaters in America including The La Jolla Playhouse, The Guthrie, Playwrights Horizon, SITI Company, The Acting Company, New Victory Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Kennedy Center, Missouri Rep, San Diego Rep and The Berkeley Rep. Artists he has worked with include Des McAnuff, Bill Irwin, Anne Bogart, Tony Tacone, Marion McClinton, Robert Woodruff, Stephen Sondheim, Randy Newman and David Byrne. He has composed many concert pieces for various choirs, orchestras and chamber groups and has received numerous major awards and honors around the country for his work. His music has also been heard in China, Japan, Europe, South America, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In addition, he has scored several feature films and documentaries that have been distributed worldwide including the critically acclaimed motion picture, The Operator by Jon Dichter. Mr. Zupanc’s theme music can also be heard regularly on National Public Radio. Since 1989, Mr. Zupanc has been the resident Music Director/Composer at the Tony Award winning Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis.

Louisa Castner is a poet, editor, and amateur jazz pianist. She and her 88-year-old father believe they are one of the few, if not only, father-daughter boogie-woogie piano duos in the world. As a musician, she has also enjoyed a five-year stint as the drummer in an all-women polka band that performed in Minnesota, the Polkastra. As a poet, her work has appeared in various journals, including Dust & Fire and Calliope. She was managing editor of the erstwhile Evergreen Chronicles, a Minneapolis-based LGBT literary journal. Dementia has touched her life deeply: her mother, Katie, lived with Alzheimer’s for twelve years. Surrounded by her musical family, Katie thrived, singing in the church choir and enjoying the liveliness of musical activities. Ms. Castner shares that she “is delighted by the opportunity to collaborate with the gifted Victor Zupanc and the inspiring Giving Voice Chorus”

A Commissioning & Community Residency Opportunity

Duration of project: May, 2017-June, 2018
Composer stipend: $6,000
Poet stipend: $4,000
Application Window: January 16– February 28, 2017


The American Composers Forum is pleased to announce a new commission and residency opportunity made possible by a partnership between the American Composers Forum (ACF), Giving Voice Chorus (GVC) and MacPhail Center for Music (MacPhail).

The purpose of this Healing and Hope Through Song collaboration is to increase and promote the creative potential of people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers through choral music experiences, and to reduce the public stigma associated with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Working in a residency setting with Giving Voice Chorus and its strategic partner MacPhail Center for Music, the poet and composer will collaborate to create a new choral work or set of songs, approximately 8 minutes in length. The poet and composer will work with appropriate GVC and MacPhail staff to design residency activities; and with GVC members to develop, create and perform the new piece to be premiered by GVC in spring 2018.

Poet/Composer Responsibilities and Benefits

Poet and composer will be required to:

  • Work with GVC and MacPhail staff to develop residency sessions.
  • Facilitate 5-8 residency activities at GVC/MacPhail.
  • Collaborate to create an original work or set of songs (approximately 8 minutes in length) to be performed by GVC.
  • Attend agreed-upon rehearsals and performance of the new work.
  • Be available for promotional activities as mutually agreed upon with ACF.
  • Maintain regular communication with ACF through email, phone, and/or written reports.

Benefits to the poet and composer include:

  • Awards of $4,000 (to the poet) and $6,000 (to the composer), which are inclusive of work performed during the residency, all travel costs to and from the sites, and the commission fee. An additional amount of $500 will be available to the composer to cover music copying costs.
  • Premiere of the new composition at a concert in spring 2018.
  • Concert recording of the work for archival purposes.
  • During the residency period, selected participants will receive consultation with music therapists (from MacPhail Music for Life) and the staff of Health Partners’ Center for Memory and Aging, to advise on working with those who have Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and with their caregivers.

Intended Schedule

  • March 2017: the selection panel reviews all applications.
  • April 2017: finalists will be contacted and interviews scheduled.
  • May 2017: a composer and poet will be selected, and initial meetings of the full collaboration group occur.
  • June-August 2017: composer/poet research, interview chorus members and caregivers, collect stories for their work plan.
  • September-December 2017: composer and poet attend rehearsals, draft text/poem and music, revise as needed.
  • February – May 2018: GVC rehearses and learns music.
  • May or June 2018: Premiere of new work at the GVC spring concert.

The poet and composer will need to be available for residency activities to be mutually agreed on with Giving Voice Chorus’ staff, the requisite rehearsals, and for any promotional activities directly related to this project.

Applicant Eligibility and Qualifications

  • Affinity for community and/or collaborative settings; previous experience working with older adults (ages 55+), and familiarity with Alzheimer’s is strongly desired, but not a requirement.
  • Ability to work cooperatively with chorus and staff of GVC, MacPhail and ACF administrative personnel is essential.
  • Availability for the 5-8 residency activities, as well as flexibility in scheduling. Attendance at some rehearsals are required. Accordingly, poets and composers who live within the Twin Cities and surrounding areas are encouraged to apply.
  • Selected poet and composer will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement provided by GVC.
  • The poet and composer are responsible for their own transportation.
  • Employees and board members of the American Composers Forum may not apply; and members of GVC and MacPhail are not eligible to apply.
  • Eligible applicants do not need to be current members of ACF. The selected composer will be expected to join/maintain ACF membership for the Healing & Hope Through Song program year.

Selection criteria will include:

  • The American Composers Forum encourages applicants from the full range of musical styles, and is committed to supporting a diverse pool of artists whose work demonstrates strong artistic merit. Accordingly, awards for our programs will represent, as far as possible, artists and projects that are diverse in genre, gender, race, ethnicity and geography.
  • Quality of applicant’s work samples.
  • Previous experience.
  • The flexibility necessary to manage the scheduling and artistic demands of the project
    communication skills.
  • A genuine desire to be moved, influenced, and inspired by members of Giving Voice Chorus.

Selection Procedure and Timeline

A selection committee comprised of representatives from Giving Voice Chorus and MacPhail will review applications and, in consultation with ACF staff, will choose a small group of finalists to interview. Interviews will be conducted and final decisions will be announced in May 2017; the residency period will begin shortly thereafter.

Your online application will include two or three work samples:

Poet: relevant writing samples (poetry or prose)
Composer: relevant compositions, examples of choral or vocal writing, including scores (if applicable)

Deadline: All submissions must be received by 11:59pm (CST) on February 28, 2017

The American Composers Forum encourages applicants to contact ACF staff to ask questions and discuss potential applications. For questions regarding Healing & Hope Through Song contact Kris Kautzman | 651.251.2842 with any questions.


George Maurer, composer
Sierra DeMulder, poet

ACF was honored to partner with One Voice Mixed Chorus on the 2016-17 Healing & Hope Through Song program, which paired National Poetry Slam Champion Sierra DeMulder and McKnight fellow and acclaimed Minnesota composer George Maurer with RECLAIM, a St. Paul, MN organization that works to increase access to mental and integrative health support so that queer and trans youth may reclaim their lives from oppression in all its forms. In March 2017, One Voice premiered “Still Standing,” a four-movement work with themes of pride, love, and resiliency for choir and string quartet, at the Ordway Center. Read more.


Paul John Rudoi, composer
Brian Laidlaw, poet

Composer Paul John Rudoi and poet Brian Laidlaw met weekly over dinner with the children and families at the Twin Cities Ronald McDonald House. Premiered by the Minnesota Boychoir in May 2016, their beautiful work “My Friends and I,” focuses on hope, friendship, love, and loss through the eyes of children.

An excerpt from the full ACF interview with Paul & Brian, “even before our meetings with the patients and families at the Ronald McDonald House began, I felt certain that this residency/commission would be a powerful experience – but I was entirely unprepared for how transformative and memorable the process proved to be. My expectations, prior to our first contact with the families, were that Paul and I would be entering into a whirlwind of dark, heavy emotions. I braced myself for heartbreaking conversations with children and parents alike, and thought that our final product – the songs for the Minnesota Boychoir – would likely be a touch somber or mournful. Those expectations, I soon learned, were completely backwards! The kids were unbelievably articulate, energetic, and positive in their outlook; I was struck by the fact that for these young patients, their situation was totally normal. They were accustomed to discomfort, accustomed to doctors, accustomed to a delicately balanced schedule of meals and medications. Whatever sorrow I expected to see in them, I immediately realized that I was projecting it onto their experience – but for them, this situation wasn’t tragedy, it was simply life.” – Brian Laidlaw


Timothy Takach, composer
Julia Klatt Singer, poet

“As a composer, it can be hard to find contemporary poets who are willing to let their words be set to music. Right away I sensed that Julia Klatt Singer would create great poems for this project, and that we would work well together. I’ve gone on to set many more of her poems for commissioned pieces, and treasure the collaborative relationship we’ve developed. The choral cycle I wrote for Healing & Hope Through Song, “Where Beauty Comes From,” was premiered by the Minnesota Boychoir, and has since been performed by the Young People’s Chorus of Erie and arranged as an art song cycle for high voice and piano. It is my hope that the Composer’s Forum can help other vocal composers find living poets with whom they can work. It’s such a rewarding experience.” – Timothy Takach