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May 15, 2018 > Music as an antidote for a divisive time

Music as an antidote for a divisive time

Submitted By Shirley Gilbert

The Mission Peak Chamber Singers, led by Ofer dal Lal, invite you to ÒAnd Justice for All,Ó a concert meant as a musical antidote to todayÕs painful political environment. Shirley Gilbert interviewed Director dal Lal about the concert and about being a busier-than-ever choirmaster in the Bay Area.

Gilbert: ÒAnd Justice for AllÓ is an intriguing and unique title for a choral concert. Why did you choose it and why now?

dal Lal: IÕve always thought the American dream is brought to life with the Pledge of Allegiance that kids say every day in schoolÉand the Pledge ends with ÒAnd justice for all.Ó That phrase has always resonated with me. It underscores the notion of equality and freedom. And if thereÕs any time we need to be reminded of those principles, itÕs now during this difficult time in America.

Gilbert: ItÕs true that thereÕs a lot of anger and dissension out there. How can music help soothe some of these raw feelings?

dal Lal: I think thereÕs something uplifting about going to a live concert and having a musical experience with a community of people. I believe music moves you in a united direction. Everyone listening to beautiful and thought-provoking music together and getting an opportunity to sing their hearts out make us all feel better. Singers get rid of feelings of anger by their very need to breathe through the music and the audience can feel their joy and delight.

Gilbert: How do you select a repertoire for such a powerful concert?

dal Lal: I thought of all the music that has made America a magic place and a place, too, of universal struggle. The struggle for freedom for African-Americans, for women, for human rights, for economic equality. IÕve selected moving music that represents these themes. There will also be several sing-alongsÉsongs like ÒWe Shall OvercomeÓ and ÒAmerica the Beautiful.Ó I want people to feel like participants, to leave with a strong sense of belonging.

Gilbert: As a newly-transplanted Israeli who will soon become an American citizen, how do you feel about the emotional climate of the country at this time?

dal Lal: I come from a place where a lot more conflict exists than here. And I know that the true spirit of America as represented in its music and its institutions will help overcome bleak periods. Our two countries have had down times and have turned them around.

Gilbert: You talk about the importance of upholding a tradition of the unexpected in planning a choral concert. ÒAnd Justice for AllÓ is certainly an unusual concept and theme. Most choirs stick to the traditional. Why do you think itÕs important to depart from the all-time favorites?

dal Lal: Now people have the ability to listen to their favorite recordings at home. To bring people out to a concert you have to offer something you canÕt get on YouTube, something unexpected and surprising. Something that moves people in an emotional way. That way they will come back.

Gilbert: Tell us something about the Mission Peak Chamber Singers.

dal Lal: IÕve been artistic director for two years and whatÕs special about this choir is that itÕs not just about singing and going home for them. They have cookies and tea before rehearsal; theyÕre interested in each other; theyÕve formed a close bond. And thatÕs what being in a choir is all about.

Gilbert: You are incredibly busy. You lead the Mission Peak Chamber Singers, San Francisco Bay Area Chamber Choir, WomenSing, and are on the faculty of California State East Bay. How do you do it?

dal Lal: I get so much support and help from choir members. This, after all, is my profession and my passion. I get up every morning ready to plan, talk about, and conduct choirs in concerts. I feel so lucky to be able to do what I love.

Gilbert: On May 19 and 20 you will be conducting the choir in ÒAnd Justice for All.Ó What do you hope people will say or feel as they leave?

dal Lal: I hope people will feel uplifted by the beautiful and upbeat music. WeÕve asked a drummer to join us and thereÕs nothing like the rousing sound of drums to make you feel good. Then I wish people will leave willing to speak up against hatred and violence, feel free to speak their own truth. And finally, simply enjoy a great concert.

The Mission Peak Chamber Singers will perform ÒAnd Justice for AllÓ in two concerts: Saturday, May 19 at the Foothill Presbyterian Church in San Jose, and Sunday, May 20 at the Niles Discovery Church in Fremont. Tickets are $20 for adults online or $25 at the door, and $15 for children and students both online and at the door.

And Justice for All

Saturday, May 19
7 p.m.
Foothill Presbyterian Church
5301 McKee Rd, San Jose

Sunday, May 20
4 p.m.
Niles Discovery Church
36600 Niles Blvd, Fremont

(510) 356-6727
Tickets: $15 Ð $25

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