Virtual ‘Grand Night For Singing’ focuses on community and connection | Arts & Culture

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Virtual ‘Grand Night For Singing’ focuses on community and connection

Virtual ‘Grand Night For Singing’ focuses on community and connection

Members of the SMTD's Musical Theatre Department singing "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers as part of the "Grand Night for Singing" performance.

The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance presented their annual  musical theatre, choral music, and solo voice performances during the annual Grand Night for Singing concert on Oct. 29 at 8 p.m.

Grand Night for Singing focused on themes of community and connection, with repertoire including traditional songs that speak to our need for communal singing such as “I Was Glad” by Sir Charles Hubert Parry and “How Can I Keep from Singing” arranged by Karen Thomas. It also featured new social justice songs such as Alysia Lee’s Say Her Name” and Melanie Demore’s “Lead with Love.”  All four works will be presented as new virtual choir pieces.

According to Eugene Rogers, associate professor and director of choral activities at SMTD, the music selections seek to raise awareness about police brutality and anti-racism in the US, and

“As we have all been faced with the challenges of COVID-19 over the last few months, I have been thinking, ‘how can we keep from singing”’ said Rogers. “I knew that Grand Night for Singing was more important than ever because we need to remind ourselves that in spite of the challenges facing our world today, we must keep singing and focus on the connection we have as a choral community right here in Ann Arbor. For this virtual evening, we were able to lock arms with our community partners and celebrate the power of vocal music together.”

This year’s Grand Night for Singing program was the largest in the concert’s history. Nine of U-M’s choral ensembles participated, including singers in SMTD’s Michigan Youth Chamber Ensemble and the University Musical Society Choral Union. The event was held virtually via livestream on SMTD’s Facebook and YouTube and includd live commentary with Grand Night performers.