Saint Paul City Choir
2013-2014 Creator and Co-Artistic Director. Collaboration with Marcus Young.
Saint Paul City Choir was produced by the City Artist in Residence Program of Public Art Saint Paul in partnership with the City of Saint Paul. During a one-year period of experimentation, we explored civic singing and investigated the limits of what a city choir can be through public singing events, participatory action research, an Election Day singalong, and a City Staff Wellness Choir. Our workshops and performances took place in Saint Paul City Hall, Union Depot transit station, and other public spaces around St Paul, MN. Through vocal exercises, collaboration with composers and conductors, and facilitated conversations about civic singing, we ask these questions: how is singing a practice of civic joy and belonging? How can an innovative concept of choir be a new model of social inclusivity and civic engagement? What new musical practices will emerge from this interplay of city and choir? How can singing lead us to live more truthfully?
Above: a City Staff Wellness Choir rehearsal with guest artist Jayanthi Kyle.
For eleven weeks in the fall of 2014, Saint Paul city employees from across many departments spent time singing together as both a wellness activity and a space for reflection on civic service. Under the direction of Richard Rasch and accompanied by Jerrod Wendland, members explored the musicality of their own voices, practiced healthy breathing techniques, and blended their voices into a vibrant choral sound.
For their culminating performance, The City Staff Wellness Choir will debut an original song collaboratively-created with Minnesota composer Jocelyn Hagen, and perform their own version of “We Wish You Peace.” At the performance the audience learned about the ongoing public art project that sparked the City Staff Wellness Choir, and sang along to a variety of traditional songs, including “Down by the Riverside,” “This Land is Your Land,” and more.
Following the program, we walked to a happy hour reception at Great Waters Brewing Company (426 St Peter Street) featuring drink specials and snacks.
The City Staff Wellness Choir was produced by the City Artist in Residence Program of Public Art Saint Paul with major support from ArtPlace America, in partnership with Healthy Saint Paul, the City’s employee well-being program.