Artwork and Poetry Conceived and Inspired by Compass Housing Alliance, Catholic Housing Services and Mary’s Place Residents Created in Response to Ives’ New England Holidays to be Presented on Masterworks Concert by Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony
Project Part of the Symphony’s Simple Gifts Initiative Supporting Those Experiencing Homelessness or in Transitional Housing Through Music and Creative Work
Seattle, WA–Seattle Symphony gives voice to the community through a major artistic project in February uniting an American masterpiece with the voices of those experiencing homelessness. On February 2 and 4 Music Director Ludovic Morlot will lead the Seattle Symphony in two memorable performances on the Delta Air Lines Masterworks Season of Charles Ives’ New England Holidays accompanied by visual illustrations created by residents from three nonprofits serving the homeless community, along with poetry by Claudia Castro Luna written in response to the music and project. The concert also features pianist Emanuel Ax performing Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5.
The project, titled All of Us Belong, started in October when the Seattle Symphony collaborated with three community nonprofit partners to engage participants in creative workshops to reimagine and reflect on Charles Ives’ New England Holidays. In these workshops, Seattle Symphony Teaching Artist Becky Aitken, Seattle’s Civic Poet Claudia Castro Luna, University of Washington professor and Charles Ives expert Larry Starr, and staff members from the Seattle Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement department facilitated discussions with the participants to reflect on the music and develop artistic responses or reinterpretations of these holidays with regard to each person’s personal experiences. These narratives were reimagined into poetry by Claudia Castro Luna and, along with the resulting visual illustrations created by participants, will be presented in the live performance of New England Holidays during the February concerts.
Susan, a participant from the Cascade Women’s Program, shared: “To convey my message to the audience is a hugely complicated thing. My life has been nothing but an adventure and I embrace every moment of it. Being what I am, however, tends to invoke a certain attitude from people that separates me from them. I think the humanness is the message that I would like to convey more than anything else. I want to create a momentary connection with the audience.”
Each of the four participant groups has created responses to one of the four holidays represented in Ives’ New England Holidays. The movements are Washington’s Birthday (Catholic Housing Services at Dorothy Day); Decoration Day (military veterans from Compass Housing Alliance); The Fourth of July (Mary’s Place); and Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day (Cascade Women’s Program of Compass Housing Alliance).
“We wholeheartedly believe in the power of music and creativity to remove barriers that isolate people and to manage anxiety and stress,” says Music Director Ludovic Morlot. “As the city’s symphony orchestra, we have a unique opportunity to create a sense of belonging, provide respite, give hope and share the healing power of music with those in need.”
This project is part of Simple Gifts, the Seattle Symphony’s organization-wide commitment to homelessness in Seattle and King County. The Symphony partners with 18 nonprofit organizations that serve those experiencing homelessness or who are in transitional housing. Partners include Accelerator YMCA, Aloha Inn (Catholic Community Services), Compass Housing Alliance, FareStart, Frederic Ozanam House (Catholic Community Services), Inspire Youth Project, Mary’s Place, Mockingbird Society, Path with Art, Plymouth Housing Group, Prospect Enrichment Preschool, ROOTS Young Adult Shelter, New Futures, Seattle Education Access, Street Youth Ministries, Wellspring Family Services, Youth in Focus and YouthCare. Other Simple Gifts projects this season include a residency at Plymouth Housing Group, the culmination of We Are All Here with Path with Art and the Lullaby Project with Mary’s Place.
Photos 1–3 were taken during various workshops with the participants. Photo #3 is Ludovic Morlot and Civic Poet Claudia Castro Luna during the project kick-off session with participants at Benaroya Hall. Photos by James Holt.