Giving Voice to Community

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What creates a community?  

Westminster's Giving Voice to Community project explored that question at each of the Westminster Choir's concerts during the 2011-2012 season.  Westminster Choir College is committed to the belief that choral music – singing together – builds and strengthens community. That sense of community is a hallmark of our campus and our alumni.

Each time we perform we create a new community - a community composed of the choir and the audience. For those few hours we share an experience, a connection, a moment in time. We may enter the concert hall as strangers, and we may never see each other again, but for those few hours we are a community connected through music.

About the Project
Each person’s reaction to and memory of the concert will be different, influenced by his or her own life experience. Giving Voice to Community sought to explore the unique community created at a concert or performance. It was inspired by two other projects that explore people’s desire for connection and expression: StoryCorps and the Anthropological Wordsmith Picture Show.  StoryCorps offers people the opportunity to share an important aspect of their lives through short narrative.  Developed by artist and photographer Andrew Wilkinson in collaboration with portrait photographer Benoit Cortet, the Anthropological Wordsmith Picture Show pared the opportunity for expression to a single word.  It invited people to be photographed with one word of their choice with no additional instructions as to what the word should represent.

How It Worked
In the Giving Voice to Community project, before each concert audience members were invited consider their lives and their stories and to choose one word that defined them as they joined the concert “community.” After writing the word on a piece of paper, he or she was photographed holding the paper with the selected word. All of the photographs taken before the concert were displayed in a slide show outside of the concert hall after the performance and later uploaded to the Westminster Choir College Web site.  View Photos.

Three videos were created combining the photographs taken at each concert with some of the music performed by the choir, and they were uploaded to YouTube. This electronic creation serves as an archive – a memory - of a unique moment in time shared by a community created through music.