Both groups aim to transform lives — one using the power of choral music and the other the power of the written and spoken word.
And next week, Mid-Columbia Mastersingers and Urban Poets Society will join forces for a pair of performances that are sure to entertain, enrich and, yes, perhaps even transform.
“Art forces people to stop and think, to reflect. About their lives, about the conditions of the world around them,” said Justin Raffa, artistic director of Mid-Columbia Mastersingers.
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And it’s a vehicle for increasing a community’s love quotient, for embracing and celebrating diversity, for strengthening bonds, added Jordan Chaney, founder of Urban Poets Society.
“Art is the stage on which people are invited to do that. It breaks down these social walls and barriers that really shouldn’t be there. They almost evaporate effortlessly in the presence of art,” he said.
The joint Mid-Columbia Mastersingers and Urban Poets Society performances are at 8 p.m. April 8 and 2 p.m. April 10 at the Uptown Theatre in Richland.
“They’ll include an eclectic lineup of songs performed by Raffa’s choir, intermixed with poetry by members of Chaney’s group.
The young poets will tackle all sorts of topics in their work. Some of the poetry is challenging, dealing with hard subjects like racism.
The program isn’t a haphazard stew. It was thoughtfully planned out, with the music and poems working together for greatest impact, Raffa and Chaney said.
The Mastersingers will present tunes that range from a South African apartheid freedom song to pop favorites by Depeche Mode and Ben Folds.
And the young poets will tackle all sorts of topics in their work. They won’t pull punches. Some of the poetry is challenging, dealing with hard subjects like racism.
Raffa and Chaney said the show will be special for its artistry, its diversity.
The Mastersingers will present tunes that range from a apartheid freedom song to pop favorites by Depeche Mode and Ben Folds.
It will also feature a couple of world premieres.
The Mastersingers will debut a new work by Yakima composer John Jones.
And Tri-City composer Reg Unterseher, who serves as Mastersingers’ associate conductor, set a poem by Urban Poets members D.J. Willard to music.
It’s called Glass. Willard, who’s 19, wrote the poem a couple of years ago.
“He’s over the moon” about hearing the choir sing his words, Chaney said. “He’s really excited.”
Chaney, an acclaimed poet, also will perform some of his own work during the show.
His Urban Poets Society is a youth arts and leadership program that aims to build tolerance, build community and build up young people through art.
Art forces people to stop and think, to reflect. About their lives, about the conditions of the world around them.
Justin Raffa, artistic director of Mid-Columbia Mastersingers
“For Mid-Columbia Mastersingers to so graciously invite us to be part of this event is huge validation for the youth’s work and ideas,” Chaney said. “The end product is these kids with these stronger, beautiful, ferocious dreams and visions, thinking, ‘If this is possible, why not this? Why not this?’ ”
Raffa said the collaboration between the two groups is natural.
The work Chaney does is vital, Raffa said. And “there are obvious connections between poetry and singing, especially in the choral world. We don’t have a speaking voice and a singing voice,” he said. “We have one voice that we learn to use in all these extraordinary ways.”
Tickets are $20 in advance and $22 at the door. Students in kindergarten through grade 12 will be admitted for free.
A “Behind the Music” talk with Raffa and Chaney starts a half-hour before each show.
More information and advance tickets: www.midcolumbiamastersingers.org.