by Tom Simpson for OLY ARTS

The Olympia Peace Choir will hold its annual spring concert this coming Saturday. The concert has become an annual event for this choir of over 100 singers. This year, the concert will feature songs about peace and social consciousness from diverse cultures, including music by classical pianist Robert Jorgensen, songs from the Xhosa people of southern Africa (“Bambalela”) and a song inspired by the Standing Rock Souix tribe, “Mni Wiconi ” (Lakota for “Water is Life”).

“We believe in the power of song to affect change for the better, both in ourselves and in the world. We learn and share songs from other cultures to experience some of the daily concerns, hopes for the future and view of the world from a different vantage point,” explains Genny Ellis, singer and chair of the Peace Choir board of directors.

The concert will also feature an original song inspired by and written for The Olympia Peace Choir. “One Lone Voice” was written by Karen Lunde Hertzberg, a choir member (and OLY ARTS contributor). Hertzberg’s musical gifts had lain dormant for several decades. Her love of music was reawakened by the choir.

“The Olympia Peace Choir’s beautiful message and amazing people helped me find my voice again,” says Hertzberg. “This song is a love song to them.”

Hertzberg first performed the song “One Lone Voice” privately, and sent a recording to artistic director Kerri Lynn Nichols, who created the full choral arrangement for the song that will be performed at the concert.

The Peace Choir’s concert takes place at a turning point in the group’s growth and funding. After several years of success and growing audiences, higher operating expenses led to a funding shortfall for the choir. But rather than raising membership dues or charging for concerts, the group is now seeking other fundraising avenues.

“Most of the work of creating our choir is done by volunteer members… Our needs are as minimal as we can get by with; however, the cost of sheet music, rehearsal and concert venues, insurance, printing, equipment rental, etc., exceeds the dues we collect,” says Ellis. “Our concerts will remain free to the public, but donations are always welcome. We are also actively seeking community partners and business sponsors.”

Artistic director Nichols emphasizes that the Olympia Peace Choir’s larger mission will be on display in this spring concert: “The Olympia Peace Choir… was created as a place where like-minded people could come together to generate power, love and joy through singing. We are a service choir and a global community.”

Board chair Ellis agrees: “This performance is our gift to the community.”


WHAT: The Olympia Peace Choir, Spring Concert

WHEN: at 7 PM on Saturday, March 24

WHERE: The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 1601 North Street SE, Olympia, WA 98501

LEARN MORE: Peace Choir Website