The annual spring concert from the UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County Campus and Community Choir promises to be powerful and reflective, with selections of music and words from multiple global cultures, unified in voicing struggle and oppression. For both the singers and the Choir’s director, Deanna Horjus-Lang, there have been many hours of thoughtful rehearsals, with an added sense of mission for this year’s performance.
“I wanted to find pieces of music from different walks of life, unified by their connection to justice, to oppression, but also hope,” said Horjus-Lang, who has led the Campus and Community Choir since 2010. Starting with the title piece of the program, “Would You Harbor Me?” the music in the concert tells stories of despair, and injustice, but also connection and the power of belief.
Performing in the large space of the Al Ringling Theater offers a chance for a presentation that incorporates movement and spoken-word moments along with the 14 musical selections. “We have almost 80 singers, including 24 from Baraboo High School’s Chamber Singers” says Horjus-Lang, “plus chimes, African drums, Native American flute, and short readings between the pieces, to tie things together from start to finish.” Among the readers will be Baraboo’s Mayor Mike Palm. Dancers from BRAVO Center dance studio in Baraboo will also participate.
Other music selections reflect on a range of emotions and experiences, from stories of Welsh miners (“The Bells of Rhymney”), to domestic abuse, (“Warrior”), to the hope for peace (“Imagine”), or the comfort and clarity of belief (“Even When God is Silent”).
The “Baraboo Embraces” concert follows an array of gathering events in Baraboo, reflecting the community’s desire to come together with comfort and action, after the controversial photo that gained media attention in November 2018. Earlier community events included “Baraboo Gathers,” “Baraboo Talks,” “Baraboo Reads”, and “Baraboo Acts.”
Horjus-Lang hopes the concert can continue the journey Baraboo has been on, together, for the last several months. “[There was] a very big wrong that happened,” she says, “and it needs to acknowledged, but also forgiven” as the community moves forward.
“Would You Harbor Me? Baraboo Embraces” will be presented Sunday, May 19 at 4pm in the Al Ringling Theater in downtown Baraboo. Advance tickets are not required.