Can you imagine going to the Superbowl, but instead of being gathered to watch a sporting event, you've gathered to sing? Seems unlikely, doesn't it? I thought so too until the University of Washington choir tour to Estonia and Latvia. At the beginning of the tour, I had virtually no pre-existing knowledge of the unique tradition of singing in these countries. Unbeknownst to me, my perspective on singing cultures would soon be changed forever. As I stood in the Daugava stadium in the Latvian capital of Riga, a space created for the sole reason of communal singing by thousands of people, it was difficult to comprehend the magnitude of this moment in my own education as musician, conductor and artist. The stadium's emptiness created an indescribable sense of awe for the sacred space, much like walking into a grand cathedral. The palpable sense of unity and purpose was evident even among the snowy benches of the stadium.
At this moment questions surfaced in my mind that I have been attempting to answer ever since. "If communal, intentional singing could bring about peaceful revolution during the complexities of the Singing Revolution years, how much more could it contribute to the welfare of American contemporary culture?" Dr. Guntis Smidchens, head of the Baltic Studies program at the University of Washington, (and touring official during aforementioned tour) has investigated the role of music in specific during the Baltic Singing Revolutions and presents his findings in the article "Was Singing Necessary?" His research has proved invaluable in answering those questions that Riga inspired in me those years ago. Chorosynthesis dreams of getting the United States to sing in massive numbers, to connect our voice, communities, and causes.
Do you believe that singing is necessary in the United States? Perhaps you will be after reading Dr. Smidchens' article...