Dr. Weeks Students Inspire Local Composer, Perform with Syracuse Children's Chorus

     Published on 11/12/15   Tagged under:    District News    Dr Weeks Elementary School   

When the Syracuse Children’s Chorus received word from the Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University that they had been selected to participate in a choral project funded by the New York State Council on the Arts, they were hoping to celebrate the diversity of Syracuse and its legacy of being a welcoming community.
They commissioned Boston-based composer Nick Page to write a three-part piece celebrating Syracuse’s involvement with the Underground Railroad. The resulting piece, titled “Syracuse, in the Presence of the Past,” includes one movement called “Syracuse, October 1st, 1851,” another called “Syracuse Today” and a third called “Syracuse, October 1st, 2051.” Together, these compositions walk through the fight for equality in the 1850s, the ways today’s students are working to ensure a better future for all people, and the peaceful world that is desired in the years to come.
In putting together the work, Mr. Page met with students from Dr. Weeks—including many from immigrant families—and asked where they feel welcome and what they do to make the world a better place. Some of these responses were included in the lyrics of the songs. Students said they felt welcome in the library, with the teachers at their school, playing basketball and ‘in America, because I’m free.’
Syracuse Children’s Chorus Artistic Director Stephanie Mowery said the students’ involvement was key. “Our goal was to involve children from a Syracuse City School as part of SCC’s mission to increase diversity within the chorus and to reach out and offer the benefits of an established music education program to a wide variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds,” she explained.
Fifth grader Analeyah Caquias said that the message behind the song was what made her pleased to participate. “The song is about believing in a better world than it is now,” she said. “It makes me feel proud to be on stage singing this. I feel important.”
Analeyah is one of several Dr. Weeks Elementary students who performed parts of the song, along with the Syracuse Children’s Chorus, at a “Songs of Peace and Freedom” performance at University United Methodist Church.
Classmate Emoni Merriweather, another performer, added, “Singing makes me happy. This is a future story. It’s about the world in 2051 and what they hope it will be like. It makes me feel good to sing it!”
Khalina Davis, meanwhile, appreciated the beautiful music and the message behind it. “It’s Swing Low and Amazing Grace and a new song all put together,” she explained. “It’s about peace and believing in yourself.”
Thank you to Mr. Page and the Syracuse Children’s Chorus for providing our students with this wonderful opportunity!