Children’s Choral Arts Festival brings the peace post-Sandy

February 1, 2013 Anna Spivak
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A very lively and spirited bunch of smiling faces patiently await their moment in the spotlight. It’s almost show time for the talented children of Leif Ericson Day School, Saint Saviour Catholic Academy, and the Children’s Chorus of Bay Ridge.

Dozens of parents, children, and involved community members filed into Bay Ridge’s Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd on Sunday, January 27, 2013. The Fourth Avenue church, with its beautiful stained glass windows and intricately sculpted décor, seemed to provide the perfect setting for the Second Annual Children’s Choral Arts Festival for Peace—A Hurricane Sandy Relief Benefit Concert.

Directors of the show, Rita Pihra-Majurinen and Julia Hurn, regard this concert as an “exercise in peacebuidling.” The two musically-inclined women met at a drumming workshop some years ago and through their shared belief that “music is for everybody,” became best friends.

“Tying music-making to building up moral in a community has been a blessing,” remarked Hurn.

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Buzz and excitement surrounded the church as the Children’s Chorus of Bay Ridge took the stage. Coming in through the side aisles, the children were adorned in colorful clothing and scarves—some of them playing instruments. A chorus of sweet voices began the familiar melody to “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” kicking off the festivities.

The arrangements and songs prepared by Pihra-Majurinen and Hurn showcased the individual talents of the children, from an incredible Japanese/English song entitled “Hamabe no Uta,” sung by the Bay Ridge Children’s Chorus, to an a capella medley of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Angels Watching Over Me,” performed by the Saint Saviour Catholic Academy Junior Choir.

The spirit in the room was contagious as the show continued. With encouraged participation from the audience, the Leif Ericson Day School Junior Choir performed “This Little Light.” Guest accompanist Jessica Corbin played the piano and The Saint Saviour Academy Senior Choir followed with a beautiful rendition of The Beatles’ classic, “Let It Be.”

With uplifting lyrics like “put on love everyday” and “I’ve got peace like a river in my soul,” the Leif Ericson Day School Primary Choir performed three songs before the big finale.

The audience was encouraged to participate and learn some dance steps to help close out the show. Adults and children gathered to make a big circle along the outside of the church pews, repeating the lyrics, “Hold each other’s hands and weave ourselves in a circle.”

Following the concert, children were invited to enjoy refreshments, arts and crafts, face painting, and an art exhibit displaying artwork by participating students. Michel Wilson, storyteller and community builder from Global Arts to Go, was also there to participate and share his talent.

All proceeds from this joyous community event benefited the Super Storm Sandy Education Relief Fund, the Lutheran Disaster Response, and the Children in Need Haitian Project. Both Pihra-Majurinen and Hurn seemed elated after the event.

“In light of all the recent gun violence and horrific things happening,” Pihra-Majurinen commented, “we need to promote more events like this to help spread the peace.”

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