Prairie Fire Lady Choir
Jacquie Fuller and Molly Balcom Raleigh are the co-founders of the Prairie Fire Lady Choir, a Twin Cities singing group open to self-identified ladies of all levels of musical skill. The choir, begun in 2010, is organized on a consensus model, artistically-directed from within and marshals the collected skills of its singers to operate. Today Jacquie and Molly are no longer involved, and the choir continues as a self-sustaining volunteer organization of more than 60 singers, performing in venues across Minnesota.
Drawing on their experience in “creating harmony through dischord” with the PFLC, in 2012 Jacquie and Molly participated as the Voices in Residence for Dischord and Discourse, a symposium on Agonism in Democracy. They created a Tweet Choir to voice audience responses during symposium lectures, performed at the opening of the symposium, and developed a voiced agonism workshop in which they led participants through collaboratively creating a Critical Response Choir to respond to ideas presented in the symposium.
More about the Discord and Discourse Workshop:
Friction and excellence both result from a group of people who are passionately invested in the outcome of their work. This is the case with the PFLC, as with many other group projects, and why people keep trying even when working together can be hard. Our workshop aims to create a condensed practicum of the process we use to create collaboratively as the PFLC, so that participants can use the ideas they’ve taken from the symposium and build a little muscle-memory through group creation.
Our process is a literal exercise in creating harmony from discord. The outcome of this four-hour workshop is a chorally-expressed, consensus- shaped statement on collaboration in artmaking. And a song! As a group, we’ll self-consciously employ an inherently frictive creative process to make a statement about agonism. And we’ll do it together, through music. This workshop will require participants to work as a group to write, learn, and perform a song based on their own thoughts. Participants do not need to know how to read sheet music.
We’ll start by capturing our own thoughts about collaboration and the ideas from the symposium through writing prompts. Then we’ll move to discussion, where our ideas may meet, mesh, clash, etc. Through our conversation we’ll move to consensus about the ideas we want to present through song, and the representation of our group’s thoughts through lyrics.
During the second part of the workshop we’ll get up on our feet and start singing. We’ll learn a basic song and create harmonies (depending on skills present.) We’ll match our lyrics to the song and practice it. Then, with songsheets in hand, we’ll perform our song in the museum to an audience gathered from the rest of the symposium and other Walker patrons.