We’ve always wanted to create a unique experience where we don’t just sing songs about changing the world and peace. We wanted to create a group that sang about those things and did those things.
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine escalated, members of Bridgewater State University’s new Social Justice Choir added their voices to those calling for peace.
Gathered outside the Rondileau Student Union, the intergenerational chorus put on an impromptu performance of “Give Us Peace,” a song the members had just learned in rehearsal.
“It was important,” said chorus member Allison Russell, ’23, a music education major from Norton. “It felt right, and the moment was right. We had to be heard.”
Music professors and spouses Sarah McQuarrie of BSU and Ronald Sherwin of The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth came up with the idea for the chorus. The group is open to members of both campuses as well as the broader community.
“We’ve always wanted to create a unique experience where we don’t just sing songs about changing the world and peace,” Dr. McQuarrie said. “We wanted to create a group that sang about those things and did those things.”
Every semester, the chorus aims to complete a service project. This spring, singers are collecting books, journals and games to create summer reading bags for homeless children served by School on Wheels of Massachusetts. The chorus will sing the national anthem at the nonprofit’s fundraising 5K road race and some members will compete in the event.
The group performs music by underrepresented composers and arrangers. One piece, called “Come to Me in the Silence of the Night,” is part of a longer work written by transgender composer Michael Bussewitz-Quarm in response to gun violence against children.
The songs feel very relevant today, said Graduate Studies Dean Lisa Krissoff Boehm, who enjoys singing in the group alongside BSU students.
“I am a better dean the more I take part in the community,” Dr. Boehm said. “I get a sense of what it feels like to be a student here.”
Singing in the chorus helped Lexi Papamechail, ’24, a biology and secondary education major from Peabody, rediscover her love of music.
“It’s been a really great experience to combine social justice and music,” said Lexi, who is minoring in music. “They are two things more closely linked than I thought.”
The Social Justice Choir has several on-campus performances in Horace Mann Auditorium: 4 p.m. April 10 and 12:45 and 8 p.m. April 26.
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