Transitions have been a strong theme over the past year and a half and with that brings forth a tumult of emotions. Staying true to this season’s theme, “Waves of Change,” the Boston Children’s Chorus depict a vibrant range of emotions through songs of comfort, pressing contemporary issues and dreams of hope of everyone together again in their final concert of the season, Lift Every Voice: At the Table.
Featuring special guest composers Sydney Guillaume, Omar Shahryar, and Layth Sidiq, Lift Every Voice: At the Table was live streamed for free on Sunday, May 30, but is still available to watch on their Facebook page, and YouTube channel. The concert also delivers information about their upcoming summer outdoor concert series, We Sing as well as information about the Kiser Scholarship, a memorial scholarship focused on community building and social healing.
Though each song offers its own message of hope and change, Natalie Hemby, Lori McKenna, and Brandi Carlile’s uplifting Crowded Table and Omar Shahryar’s The Journey of Feelings portrays the dream of unity while reflecting on uncertainty and the exhaustion of the journey through this pandemic from a child’s point of view. Crowded Table brings to life the dream and comfort of finally being together again at the table without worry by a roaring fire. It’s a sweet, joyous, and memorable song that you may never want to end.
Omar Shahryar’s catchy The Journey of Feelings has its amusing moments, but underneath the beat paints a startlingly perfect expression of what kids are feeling from day-to-day over the course of the pandemic. It’s an upbeat and urgent song providing insight into intense and overwhelming feelings and yet delivers a precocious sense of maturity expressing hope of life returning to normal. Omar Shahyar’s There’s a Change A-Coming further enhances this sense of gradual change as they navigate through these uncertain times.
Moving backdrops and colorful, innovative zoom cinematography enhance each song and it is wonderful to hear from Boston Children’s Chorus members from all levels and their reflections on the world. It is also a treat to see the chorus outdoors from bridge to beach to city singing together at various times over the concert’s duration, but this is especially wonderful to watch for Mavis Staples’s inspiring Build a Bridge and Layth Sidiq’s spiritual, haunting, and rhythmic Reflection.
John Mayer’s popular song, Waiting on the World to Change brings its signature insightful flair but BCC enhances this poignant song with a moving dedication to emergency workers and glimpses of the state of the world during the pandemic such as the closure of theatres, empty trains, and elbow bumps instead of hugs. Mayer’s timeless lyrics resonate profoundly while the world is in transition.
Delving into multiple languages and a unique, moving open, The Boston Children’s Chorus also reflects hope and uncertainty through the eyes of Migrants with Joel Thompson’s America Will Be as the BCC proclaims, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Dany Rivera’s charismatic and powerful vocals depict struggle and determination with Gregory Porter’s Running (Refugee Song).
The Boston Children’s Chorus encapsulates distinctly what many are feeling at this time through their evocative vocals and strong messages while leaving this season on a hopeful note.
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