ACF has been honored to partner with One Voice on the 2016-17 Healing & Hope Through Song program. This season’s collaborators were McKnight Fellow and acclaimed Minnesota composer George MaurerNational Poetry Slam Champion Sierra DeMulder, One Voice Mixed Chorus, and RECLAIM, an 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. From the collaboration comes a new work for choir and Well-Strung Quartet, titled “Still Standing.”

During their residency, DeMulder and Maurer met with youth at RECLAIM to hear their stories and share creative ideas. The poet and composer then created work to reflect the concerns and experiences of the youth. Felicia Washington Sy, Interim Executive Director of RECLAIM, said, “Nothing speaks louder than the voice of hope. Youth who participated in this project were mentored, inspired and challenged by the process,” she said.

DeMulder was influenced by her own relationships as well as by the youth at RECLAIM when writing text for the new work. She said these student interactions naturally led to the inclusion of gender identity issues and touched on the current climate of fear as well as pride throughout the nation. DeMulder also invited a wider community to join the conversation. “I reached out nationwide to my Twitter followers and asked them what images come to mind when think of their own LGBTQ+ identity. The response was numerous and incredibly powerful,” she said.

Composer George Maurer feels the music he created, inspired by DeMulder’s poems, will “take root in the ears and hearts of everyone who hears them. They celebrate, even as they are born, the collective us, they reflect our textures, our diversity, and all the hopes, tragedies, and desires we have experienced, and carry within us. They, like us, desire to be truly known, understood, and celebrated for our perspective.”

The world premiere at the Ordway on March 18 marks the culmination of a year of planning, collaborating, sharing, drafting, editing, rehearsing, and preparing. Congratulations to all!