From its start in 1984, The Eugene Peace Choir has occupied a special place in this community. We combine music, message, and community to enhance our skills, enrich our lives, and contribute to the common good. Our traditions of openness, inter-group collaboration, and singing on mission make us unique in the Eugene area.
We live our ideals, and sing to support peace, environment, and social justice. We appear at demonstrations. We give our voice to benefits and fundraisers for local groups. In the last few years, this has included CALC, MLK events, several demonstrations for peace, and the Winimem-Wintu tribe's defense of Mt. Shasta watersheds. We also donate funds directly to community groups.
We appear in a variety of settings, leading songs for the City's Martin Luther King march, and performing during the noontime MLK program in the Soreng Theater. Other venues, such as the Atrium noontime concert series, and our holiday singing at Sponsors Halfway House for Women and the Applegate Care Center, reach out to a broader audience with our message. In the past, we have frequently performed at the Folklife Festival in Seattle, and occasionally produced a celebration of the life and work of a local activist elder [most recently Peg Morton]. This year, we will wind up our season with our own Spring Concert on Sunday, May 22.
Our monetary expenses are primarily director fees and rent for rehearsal space. There are costs, too, for song arrangements, practice CDs and musical scores. Income comes mainly from our own membership fees and volunteer work. A choir garage sale in the spring is great fun. And we are most grateful to our community - private donors, the Oregon Country Fair, the Helios Resource Network, and the Lane Arts Council - for their generous support. Scholarships, and dues set on a sliding scale, allow persons at every income level to participate fully in choir activities.
Since we are a self-governing choir, the responsibility for administration and fundraising work is shared among choir members. We incorporated as a 501(C)3 non-profit charitable trust in 2004. After various adventures trying to reconcile state and federal requirements for non-profits with the choir's tradition of open democratic decision making, we arrived at a structure where the Board of Directors consists of all willing choir members, and decisions are made by the choir during a fifteen minute announcement period following rehearsals. More complex discussions may require a business meeting, but these are rare. Although we legally decide issues by voting, we find consensus the best basis for action. We try to ensure that everyone is heard, and to arrive at a solution that is good - or at least acceptable - for everyone.
We began this year under the direction of Philip Bayles. Although we loved working together, altogether too soon Philip found that the press of his other musical and environmental projects did not permit him to give us the time and attention he felt were needed.
We are delighted with Clay DeForge, who became our director at the beginning of January, and has settled in to do the job permanently. We anticipate Clay and the Eugene Peace Choir will be together for many years to come. He likes to call himself a music facilitator, stressing the collaborative relationship between director and choir, but his is the final word in all decisions regarding music. We anticipate that this year will be the first of many great ones for our singing.
We do not reject anyone who wants to sing and is willing to work on it, and welcome singers with a wide range of musical skills and backgrounds throughout the year. Our repertoire includes songs of varied complexity, and parts requiring different levels of skill: beginners can participate with enthusiasm and confidence, and those with more experience can find challenge and interest. We support less experienced singers with tutoring, and occasionally workshops, and do not require all members to perform all songs. The pursuit of excellence does require effort - members expect to come to rehearsals regularly, spend time between rehearsals with music and practice CDs, attend whatever sectionals are necessary, and appear at performances.
We select our repertoire during our annual summer retreat at the coast, in a collaborative process between choir and director. We sing songs of various social movements, many cultures, and many languages, traditional and contemporary songs, standards, and songs written or arranged specifically for us. We do some writing and arranging ourselves, trade songs with other choirs, and encourage those who would like their song performed to submit it to us.
In support of singing, the Peace Choir goes beyond rehearsal and performance. We network with community groups, and other singers and choirs. At its inception, we gave a donation to the Springfield High Mariachi Band. Currently, in partnership with the Eugene NAACP, we are working to develop a workshop on the songs of the American Civil Rights movement, directed towards the youth of this community. We hope this event will enhance the awareness in our community of these songs, and honor the people and traditions that produced them. In addition, in 2012, we will be producing the third Civil Rights Gospel Song Workshop for the general public with John Gainer.
We are in contact with community choirs from Alaska to New York City. At the recent five-choir Bound For Freedom concert in Ashland, we learned that, just as the Rogue Valley Peace Choir was founded in 2003 by a Eugene Peace Choir member who moved to Ashland, other members of that choir have gone on to found Peace Choirs in Coos Bay and in the Portland area. Since 1984, The Eugene Peace Choir has been actively and creatively using our gift of song in support of peace, sustainability, and social justice in our community.
© 2008-2012 Eugene Peace Choir | Designed and Hand-Built by Tom Berg | Updated 3-25-2012