“Last week, I awoke from a dream where I saw thousands of singers filling up a park, raising their voices against injustice. Now I am working to make that happen. Please join Close the Camps Choir on Sunday September 15 at the Embarcadero Plaza, San Francisco, from 3.00-5.00 PM and add your voice to our chorus!”
It literally started with a dream: A few weeks ago Bay Area soprano and voice teacher Emily Bender woke up with a vivid image from a dream:
“I saw thousands of singers filling up a park, raising their voices against the family separations and inhumane conditions in the camps on our southern border,” she says, “Now I am working to make that happen.”
Bender brought the idea to her fellow singers in the award-winning vocal group Solstice: A Female Vocal Ensemble, and soon rallied a group of friends, local choirs, and activist organizations to join together in a singing protest—Close the Camps Choir. There has been an enthusiastic rush to sign-on by several co-sponsors, including Thrive Street Choir, Resistance Chorus Silicon Valley, the Jewish Folk Chorus of San Francisco, African Human Rights Coalition, the Congregational Church of Belmont, and Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble. We will update as more join in!
Solstice member and composer Sheryl Kaskowitz will premiere her original song, “Amplify” at the Close the Camps Choir protest, using excerpts from migrant children’s sworn statements at the border as part of the #AmplifyTheChildren campaign. Kaskowitz has previously written about the power of communal singing in her book, God Bless America: The Surprising History of an Iconic Song.
“Anyone who has sung in a chorus understands how group singing strengthens community ties,” Kaskowitz said,“ and Close the Camps Choir is an amazing opportunity to show the power of our collective voices as a form of resistance to the camps and family separations.”
Similar to a “Sing along Messiah”, the Close the Camps Choir welcomes individuals, singing groups and supporters to join together in what promises to be a super-choir (with the audience of protestors welcome and encouraged) to raise voices, as one (in four or five parts of course) to demand the camps be closed and immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers of all ages be treated with dignity and respect.
Announcing its co-sponsorship Melanie Nathan from African Human Rights Coalition, an organization working with LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugees noted: “Let us sing loudly and with such vehemence that our concern and anger is heard all across this country. While resisting with our voices in song, we protest an administration that has unjustly demonized immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, children, moms and dads, one that has caged children in appalling conditions, separated families and lined up for deportation the most vulnerable in need of life saving medical treatment. This is not the America we value and love. With that said a focus on closing those camps and reuniting families will be heard through the magnificence of our voices in song. Please join Close the Camp Choir on Sunday September 15th.”
The Close the Camps Choir protest will take place at San Francisco’s Embarcadero Plaza (formerly Justin Herman Plaza) on Sunday, September 15thfrom 3-5 pm. Anyone who would like to join in the singing can download pdfs of the sheet music atand participate in the super-choir. Spectators and spontaneous singers of all ages are also welcome.
Individuals; families; choral, a cappella, singing groups; faith institutions and others who would like to take part are encouraged to register for the event at, via facebook, and/or to show up by 3pm at Embarcadero Plaza in San Francisco on Sunday, September 15th.
The Close the Camps Choir Protest is one of a groundswell of protests organized by people from all walks of life — from the Close the Camps Month of Momentum – which included daily events in August organized by comedians, librarians and public health workers among others – to the Day without Immigrants “Free the Children Close the Camps” Day of Action scheduled for September 16th.
Hashtag: #CloseTheCampChoir #CloseTheCamps #Resist #Reunite #NeverAgain #FamiliesBelongTogether #AmplifyTheChildren
Look for downloadable pdf’s HERE.
“Would You Harbor Me” by Ysaye M. Barnwell, challenges each of us to think deeply about who we would protect and stand up for in difficult times. The message is powerfully relevant to our times.
“This is My Song” is the English version of Sibelius’s Finlandia. This gorgeous hymn is well known to many choral singers, making it a great choice for a choral event with no rehearsal! The lyrics reflect pride in one’s nation while appreciating the beauty of all nations. The first 2 verses were written by Lloyd Stone in 1934. We are using a third verse that was written by Georgia Harkness in 1964 that encourages us all to work together for peace.
“We Shall Not be Moved/No Nos Moveran” is classic protest song, and we will sing it in English and Spanish. “Young and Old, we shall not be moved. Just like a tree standing in the water, we shall not be moved.” We must all continue to stand up against the injustices towards immigrants till they stop!
“Amplify” was written by local composer Sheryl Kaskowitz, based on sworn testimony of children at the border, as part of the Amplify the Children movement. It is a haunting reminder that our government is imprisoning children in our name. We cannot let this stand. #amplifythechildren.
Help Close The Camps Choir grow by inviting your choir/ group to participate!
Contact: email us at firstname.lastname@example.org