Why We Sing for Peace

Inner Peace Columns
Ashland Daily Tidings, May 14 and 21, 2016

By Rogue Valley Peace Choir Members

Below several members share the reasons they sing for peace. For me peace is stronger than war because it heals rather than destroys. Come, listen and enjoy the sound peace. Sally McKirgan

Part 1: May 14, 2016


My throat–a clarinet of lumpy keys

My lips–a flute of changing pitch

My chest–a chamber, the hollow of a guitar

My breath–the feelings from inside

Miriam Sundheim

How can I express the joy I feel for being a member of the Rogue Valley Peace Choir? It’s amazing to sing with a group of 80 people, all connected as one, and singing for Peace. We sing for equality and social justice; for the environment; for world and community peace and to comfort each other when someone is ill or has passed on.   I sing because it gives me a great sense of Peace within myself. If I have a tough day, or week, I practice the songs that give me hope and strength and radiate Peace within me.   It brings me back to what is important in my life and I am grateful to have the opportunity to share that joy and hope and Peace with others. I love the Rogue Valley Peace Choir! Bethany King

I have sung most of my life from growing up in a family that played and loved music, to school choirs and now, with the Choir, one of the greatest joys of my life. Thank you to Dave Marston and all who have followed his legacy. What a gift to be able to do what we love, with people we love, all based on a mission to share peace with others! There is a large volume of social and scientific studies that demonstrates the physical and psychological benefits of singing in harmony with others. Those of us who sing in harmony know this feeling. I like to think I help the choir but the truth is I benefit far more from this group of caring people, than what I provide. It keeps me happy, healthy and whole. Ginger G.

Singing in the Peace Choir lifts me up each week. It helps me feel a kinship to past, present, and future with folks working in so many ways and for such good causes to make our world a better place. Today’s intense technology and negatively slanted popular media don’t share much of the inspirational and positive news that is happening each day. But it is happening, and we are singing about it! NRY

I really experience the choir as a community with shared values. It has been a sustaining force in my life. Even though we sing secular songs, I feel as if I’m singing from my soul. Whenever I’ve been down, practice makes me feel better. Singing at MLK Day, on AIDS day and at schools, we have a wonderful opportunity to show our connection as we support all people. David T.

I have discovered that singing in a community choir is an exquisite exercise in cooperation. After many months of practice under our skilled and patient director, our disparate voices are melded into beautiful music–a miracle! I cannot sing well alone; my voice is thin and weak. However, choir gives me the confidence and joy to sing out. It is like resonating with the universe and others.

Marilyn Bolstad

First, I like the attitude: non-competitive, but serious for producing the best music while involving everyone who is interested in the music and the quest for peace and sustainability. Secondly, I like the gentle rehearsal guidance our director makes toward our goal of sharing our vision and music with audiences. Margery Winter

I joined the Rogue Valley Peace Choir in 2004 and found a passion for singing on behalf of the choir’s lofty mission. The choir quickly felt like home and its members my family. Through all the changes, these connections have sustained me. Charlie McChesney

 Part II: May 21, 2016

Singing, meeting folks

Showing up for facial joy

Hear the difference

Barbara Settles

In 2010, I interviewed for a job in Ashland. When asked if I had any questions, I said, “Yes! Are there any community choirs here?” I was delighted when the answer was, “Lots of them, including the one I belong to.” Singing in a choir offers an immediate connection to a new community and a set of friends with shared passions and values. The Peace Choir sings with joy about things that matter deeply to me. I live in Ashland, but in many ways the choir is my home.—Kim T. Griswell-Lowry

When I first heard the Peace Choir sing, I was inspired and enthusiastic and delighted to find it was a non-audition choir so I joined. Singing for peace brings comfort and healing that is ancient and primal. The rhythm of many voices raised together is a powerful tool. If you don’t believe it, look up “The Singing Revolution in Estonia”.   Carolee Buck

Being a member of the Rogue Valley Peace Choir is satisfying and I feel lucky and proud to raise my voice among a community of singers who, for the most part, feel the same as I do and want to share the message of peace. I am grateful to be surrounded by compassionate and forgiving individuals who understand that none of us is perfect, but together, singing for just causes with love in our hearts, we somehow make the world a better place and I believe we become better people. When our voices blend together in a rich tapestry of sound, emotion and message, I feel such great joy and I love sharing that joy with others during our concerts.   Cynthia Taylor

In 2008 I finally took the leap and showed up to check it out, see who was there and thankfully, no auditioning! When I walked in, Elizabeth B. hugged me. Then I spotted Dave Marston and he said loudly, “Ah, now we have a drummer” and embraced me. I’m not stupid, I know a God shot when I feel one. I’ve been the percussion section leader ever since. The Choir provides a place for creativity, love and what I call the expression of each one’s Genius. Let us cherish this rich and wonderful opportunity to create something vibrant and needed for our community, ourselves and the world. Peace out, baby!

Patty Aulik

I believe in the Margaret Mead quote that says, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Singing for peace is what I can do to help.   Instead of griping about politics we turn to song and offer it to the world.     There are selfish reasons for me to sing. The happier and healthier I am, the more light I’m able to cast. I struggle with health issues, pain and depression. As a child, I was silenced as many of us are taught not to speak up. Singing affirms my right to use my own voice. When I sing with the Choir I move and my heart is free, there is nothing but music and unity. It is my church. The people I sing with are tolerant, forgiving, respectful, and responsible.   We are part of a global family. Music is a universal language of love. The Peace Choir is a reason to live! Liza Yates

When I sing with an organized group of people that performs for others I experience multiple personal benefits. It encourages wonderful self-discipline. When done well, the harmonies of the many voices release a unique joy that fulfills me beyond description. Bringing people of all different backgrounds together for a common goal is so enriching. And there’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment in bringing a small measure of beauty to life. I’ve never experienced anything so rewarding and so enjoyable. Avram Chetron

This year’s theme “We Are One” from a song written by Pat Humphries of Emma’s Revolution and arranged by the late Dave Marston, says it all.