A Notes for Peace Review-Hope for families suffering loss from gun violence

Vocalist Sarah Vander Ploeg performs at A Notes For Peace Celebration
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On Tuesday evening, March 19, 2024, the Negaunee Institute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra produced a performance of its program entitled A Notes for Peace, developed in partnership with the UK based Irene Taylor Trust and Chicago’s Purpose Over Pain. The focus of the joint initiative was to enshrine the lives of those lost to gun violence in the poems of their loved ones, set to beautiful harmony and exquisitely played and sung. One dozen memorable songs were presented, poignantly expressed in the music of The Civic Orchestra and guests, conducted by Kyle Dickson, with violin/ CSO Artist in Residence Hilary Hahn, and special guest vocalists including family members.

The 12 pieces, selected from the 100 developed since the initiative incepted in 2017, were moving, meaningful, sad, triumphant, and thrilling; fifteen new songs were crafted in the 2022-23 year, which can be heard on the Purpose over Pain website at www.purposeoverpain.org

Artist-in-Residence Hilary Hahn and Vocalist Leah Dexter perform at A Notes for Peace

In a varied range of styles, from gospel to folk inspired and quasi hip-hop, the concert included:

  • Your Smile for Markhi Darius Banks by Tonya Thomas, Rob Wilson, and Charles Stuart, sung by Leah Dexter and Tonya Thomas
  • Love You More Than Life for John Allen Kendrick III by Kimberley Porter, Stephen Porter, Hee Yeon Kim, Hugo Saavedra, and Lindsey Sharpe, sung by Meagan McNeal
  • Healed and Free for Clarence W. and Kimani C. Whalum by Traci Rogers, Ben Foerster, Marian Mayuga, and Nelson Mendoza, sung by Simbryt Dortch and Traci Rogers
  • Myles of Smiles/Kaylyn for Myles Frazier and Kaylyn Nicole by Aimee Giles, Rex Horan and Sara Lee, sung by Sarah Vander Ploeg
  • Old Soul for Marquise Richardson by Ashley Adams, Hilary Hahn and Sara Lee, sung by Leah Dexter with Hilary Hahn, violin
  • One Red Rose for Archie Lee Chambers, Jr. by Anthanette Marshbanks, Rex Horan and Sara Lee, sung by Sarah Ponder and Antoinette Marshbanks
  • What If? for Terrell Marquis’ Bosley by Pamela Bosley, Tommie Bosley, and Roslyn Green, sung by Meagan McNeal
  • Peace and Love, Coby, for Decolbie Esco, Sr. by Diana Pierce and Joshua Fink, sung by Journey Allison, Diana Pierce and Sarah Ponder
  • When Tomorrow Starts Without Me for Matthew Rodgers, Jr. by Celeste Campbell, Queenie Edwards, Roslyn Green, Juan Olivares, and Pei-yeh Tsai, sung by Meagan McNeal and Celeste Campbell
  • Prince Among Men for Nahmar Trevell Holmes by Evangelist Harriett Holmes, Sara Lee, and Rex Horan sung by Sarah Ponder and Evangelist Harriett Holmes
  • A Song for Terrell for Terrell Marquis’ Bosley and All the Precious Angels of Purpose Over Pain by Trevon Bosley and Joshua Fink, sung by Leah Dexter with Hilary Hahn, violin
  • Chicago, Stand Up! For Israel Aragon, Jr. by The Aragon Family, Rebecca Boelzner, Quinn Delaney, John Heffernan, Alexandra Hoffman, and Laura Pitkin, sung by Journey Allison, Leah Dexter, Simbryt Dortch, Meagan McNeal, Sarah Ponder, and Sarah Vander Ploeg
Musicians from the Cicic Orchestra of Chicago and the Irene Taylor Trust led by conductor Kyle Dickson at Symphony Center on March 19, 2024

Each song contained special, meaningful lines. One Red Rose, for Archie Chambers, Jr., asked chilling questions addressed to all society; “Why is no one talking? Why is no one listening? Where is justice?” Trevon Bosley’s song to his lost brother, Terrell Bosley, A Song for Terrell, vowed “You are the reason I strive to change the world”. Diana Pierce’s ode to her son DeColbie Esco, Sr., Peace and Love, Coby, was a haunting and melodious refrain, almost a lullaby of the titled words. 

The concert was a joyous expression of family love and constancy of devotion coupled with a shining example of what the collaboration of music, caring and sharing can do to bring joy and ameliorate even the most profound loss. Across Chicago and around the world, the Negaunee Music Institute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association connects individuals and communities to transformative musical experiences.

All photos by Todd Rosenberg.

For information and tickets to all the fine programming of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, go to www.cso.org


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