“Oh my god!” Let’s change the world

Review of One Village, Many Voices Concert

Kate Miller

Promoting peace was the focus of the “One Village, Many Voices” concert held last week in the Mitchell Auditorium. Standing in line and waiting for the event to begin proved to be no problem as people from the community stood together creating a cheerful environment. The event focused on creating inspiring music while using a percentage of the proceeds to fund a scholarship for travel sponsored by Duluth Sister Cities International.

After the doors of the Mitchell Auditorium opened, community members mixed with college students filed excitedly into the performing area to find their seats. Around 7:30 p.m. the first performers appeared on stage. The Echoes of Peace Choir lit up the stage with an array of colors through dress, brightly colored shirts and scarves, and the audience would later find the music just as colorful.

As the choir filed on, Tom Morgan, director of the Alworth Center for the Study of Peace & Justice, and member of Duluth Sister Cities International, addressed the audience first with thank yous and introductions. The concert featured the talents of artists Sara Thomsen, Maggie Wheeler, Emile Hassan Dyer, the voices of previously mentioned Echos of Peace Choir, Kako’s Choir, Paula Pedersen, Regina M. Laroche, Lyz Jaakola and the Oshki Giizhik Singers. Morgan also described the ultimate message of world peace and welcoming the concert promoted.

A simple quote from president Eisenhower brought the attention of those listening, “Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.” Morgan made clear the quote is what Duluth Sister Cities International strives to complete in their efforts.

The concert’s start sent chills down audience members’ spines. The songs focused on fighting to press on, accepting others, and being able to change the world. Every song highlighted what is important and what should not be forgotten by the people of the world.

Wheeler, more famously known as Janice from popular television sitcom “Friends,” sang brightly through traditional songs as well as numbers she wrote herself. Throughout the evening she was consistently backed up by the Echoes of Peace Choir, Hassan Dyer, and others. The surrounding theme of the evening showed a mix of people from all cultures and backgrounds enjoying music and the message behind it.

A key song of the evening titled “The River” by Coco Love Alcorn revealed similarities people and a river can hold if one is willing to take a stand.

“The river is a leader every single day. It’s living in the moment and it always finds a way,” was performed by the full chorus, led by Wheeler and other featured artists.

Many songs ended with immediate applause from the audience. The atmosphere was full of joy. Many times throughout the performance audience and performers were joined as one, striving for a common cause. Finger and foot tapping as well as head nodding and swaying to the music was common in almost all listeners.

A highlight from the evening included the performance of Kako’s Choir, a youth choir centered in Duluth, showing everyone the “Dance of Life”–a dance mixed with song about appreciating what brings people to where they end up in life. Another highlight included a traditional African heritage story of an golden eagle who, after being freed and soaring high, still came back to the people of his village to have them climb on his wings so they could all soar together. Finally, Wheeler with her spot on “Oh my god!” Janice voice got the audience laughing every time the words shot out of her mouth.

As the final notes were sung, performers were met with an instant standing ovation. A capella style singing, cultural drumming, and traditional dance mixed with the voices of unique choirs provided a memorable performance for everyone involved. The concert, held Nov. 3, was Duluth Sister Cities International’s 3rd annual benefit concert. The hope is to come back each year with an even stronger performance than the year previous.