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Arts & Culture

‘We Build Beauty in the Midst of Sadness’

Concert Features Musicians on Campus and Overseas to Connect, Reflect Amid War

By Maryland Today Staff

students playing string instruments on stage

Members of the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra perform Barber's “Adagio for Strings,” conducted by Director David Neely, associate professor, conducting and ensembles, at the at "Music and Community in Response to War" concert at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on Nov. 6.

Photos by Brian H. Crawford

Words have fallen short of expressing the swirl of grief, anger and fear since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. The University of Maryland on Monday night instead hosted a conversation through music.

Arts for All, along with the School of Music and The Clarice, organized “Music and Community in Response to War,” featuring performances by student ensembles and faculty members to bring the community together.

“What better way to do so than through the universal language of music,” said Senior Vice President and Provost Jennifer King Rice. “Especially in this moment when words are often not enough—when words can actually lead to misunderstanding all too easily.”

The evening also included a recording of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus singing “Reason to Love,” introduced in person by its founder and artistic director, Micah Hendler. The chorus is a program for young Israeli and Palestinian singers to create music and encourage dialogue in hopes of inspiring peace and equality. The chorus had been scheduled to perform at UMD this semester, before the start of the war.

The free concert swept across classical, chamber, pop and R&B, with songs written in response to loss, helplessness and a desire for comfort and connection. Craig Kier, director of Arts for All and an associate professor in the School of Music, said the artists sought to speak to concertgoers, no matter their perspective.

“We build beauty in the midst of sadness,” he said. “We shine light where there is darkness.”

a man plays a trumpet with a man playing piano behind him
Pianist Jeremiah Awoseye and Hart Guonjian-Pettit on trumpet play Horace Silver's "Peace."
A man sings and plays the piano
Associate Professor of voice and opera John Holiday performs renditions of "Strange Fruit," "Fix You" and "Lean on Me."
A man sings in a recording studio
Amer Abu Arqub, a Palestinian graduate of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus who is now its executive director, performs the original song “Reason to Love" during the virtual performance shown at the concert. (Video image courtesy of Jerusalem Youth Chorus)

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