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      We're planning on hosting a festival of choral music on Monday, January 15

      We're planning on hosting a festival of choral music on Monday, January 15, the day that has been designated to reflect on the life and message of Martin Luther King Jr. We've applied for use of the high school auditorium and have invited some groups—school, church, community—to join the HG Children and Youth Choirs. So far we've gotten tentative commitments from three other choirs in the area.

      I hesitated to move ahead with this plan. HG already is offering a huge number of programs throughout the year and our energy level is stretched thin. It's at a weird time in the year for choral groups—right after the holiday season with little time to work on non-holiday music. It costs money to rent the Wellsboro High School, even for something like this: educational, community/school cooperation, opportunity for students to do something creative and productive. It wasn't like I had nothing to do and lots of energy and money to expend on the project.

      In past years the HG Choirs have had themes around which all the songs for the year embraced or reflected. Some year's the theme seems obvious and it's easy to decide and find music that revolves about it. Other years there's a bit of a challenge. I remember Katie Brennan's response when I suggested “Animals” one year. (I miss Katie.) This year no theme seemed to emerge. One of the determining factors this year is that our music budget is low since I had been ordering specific music to fit themes the past few years. This year we decided to use as much of our own library as possible.

      So we don't have a theme. But the songs that we pulled from the files all seemed to connect to a need for connection and respect and lending a hand and unity and peace through cooperation and living with integrity. We're singing for the Partners in Progress anniversary celebration at the Penn Wells in November and I wanted to have some songs that reflected their legacy and good work over the years. And in the back of my mind was some sort of recognition of Martin Luther King Jr Day. Some schools seem to just ignore it and I think that's unfortunate.

      And then came the demonstrations in Virginia and any waffling about whether or not to proceed with the festival on January 15 was put to rest. We didn't choose a theme this year; the theme seems to have chosen us.

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