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ISSUE 119 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/11/2005

One Voice sings of unity

By Tim Rehborg
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 11, 2005

People from different walks of life, race and age assemble on choir risers in the front of Boe Chapel. Their brightly colored shirts evoke a rainbow. They are the One Voice mixed chorus, the Twin Cities’ GLBT community chorus. Brought to St. Olaf with the support of St. Olaf’s GLOW! (Gay Lesbian or Whatever!), they were embarking on a three-day tour of southern Minnesota.

The Friday afternoon performance maintained a balance between light-hearted entertaining songs – beginning with a joyful, carefree rendition of “How can I keep from singing” – and more serious pieces addressing issues faced by the GLBT community.

Much of the music was set “around the theme of journey, a personal journey in coming out,” said artistic director Jane Ramseyer Miller.

This theme was apparent in the song “The Road Not Taken,” set to Robert Frost’s famous poem of the same name. For One Voice, the final line of this song – “and that has made all the difference” – takes on special meaning when taken in the context of choosing to be open about sexuality.

Being part of One Voice has greatly influenced many of its members.

“Singing with this ensemble has really helped me grow as a person, and really helped me with my coming out process,” said Joy MacArthur, a soloist with the group.

MacArthur, now 26, joined the group when she was a 19-year-old living in Edina, Minn. In addition to singing with One Voice, she is starting a youth performance ensemble in the Twin Cities, to continue her efforts educating the greater community about GLBT issues.

Friday’s performance also included some humorous pieces. “Give me Chocolate … or Give me Death” roused a chorus of laughter from the audience, while “I Do” brought attention to marriage rights in a light-hearted manner. The chorus’ final piece, “We Rise Again,” provided a contrast with its emotionally touching themes of family and community relationships.

One Voice is now in its 17th year as a performing ensemble. It performs in the Twin Cities and tours northern Minnesota and South Dakota.

Their performances, or perhaps the content of their message, have been received with mixed reactions. Some parents have held children home from school and written letters of protest.

However, most people are receptive to the group’s message of “tolerance, diversity, community and acceptance,” vocalist Sam Bullington said.

“I’m your new best fan” is the response Bullington once received from a young boy after a concert at an elementary school.

The choir, after a morning session with St. Olaf Choir Conductor Anton Armstrong, was well received by students, faculty and the community. One Voice shares a bond with the music department at St. Olaf through its several St. Olaf alumni members.

“It’s exciting to come back and see people I know, to be able to share what we do with them,” Caro Smith ’04 said. Smith was a coordinator of GLOW! and continues to work with the GLBT community through the chorus.

In addition to the musical comraderie of the chorus, the group forms a community of caring adults.

“More than anything else, it’s a community of GLBT people, adults with children, families,” Liz McClear ’98 said. “We get together, and it’s no longer talking just about coming out and all that. It’s about our lives, our families, white picket fence talk.”

The choir performs not only to share music, but also to expand its network of caring individuals, forming a community of role models.

“We work relentlessly to enlighten peoples’ minds through our music,” MacArthur said. “We are visible and proud adults for those who see us, a voice of tolerance and acceptance for our community.”

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