The inaugural Spring Festival Concert: Peace, Love, Joy event, with musical renditions by local choirs and musicians, will commence at 5 p.m. May 18 in the pavilion at Switchyard Park.
McNair has released more than 70 albums and received two Grammy awards during her opera career. Now retired in Bloomington, she will be accompanied by local pianist Kevin Cole during her performance at the concert.
The Bloomington Peace Choir, directed by Phyllis Wickliff, welcomes singers of all skill levels. The group's goal is to “sing to uplift our spirits and the world,” according to the choir’s FaceBook page.
Director of the Sing for Joy! Choir, Sandra Freund, reached out to McNair and the Bloomington Peace Choir to organize the concert. She said the group will perform arrangements of spiritual music, as well as upbeat classics such as “Put on a Happy Face” composed by Charles Strouse or “Make Someone Happy” composed by Jule Styne.
For Freund, music is a form of healing during troubling times.
“There are so many places in our country and our world where I really feel like we need to find a way for peace,” Freund said. “That was my driving idea for the theme at the festival.”
The Sing for Joy! Community Choir – a group within the Area 10 Agency on Aging – is an all-inclusive choir designed to meet the needs and interests of all its members. Sing for Joy! welcomes adults with dementia to continue singing as they get older. Freund said the choir has singers from age 22 up to 91.
“Music is the universal language,” Freund said. “We can all embrace and share it together. It doesn't matter who you are.”
Kaden Larson, a Doctorate of Music student at the Jacobs School, is a pianist for Sing for Joy!. Larson said he appreciates the group's inclusive mission, and has been grateful to get to know community members from all ages and backgrounds.
“The experience has been really instructive to me to discover the impact that making music can have on everybody, even if it's just a simple song that everyone's singing along to,” Larson said. “It doesn't have to be complex or grandiose to make a change in someone, and to bring joy and hope and uplifting feeling to a heart.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misidentified the composers of “Put on a Happy Face" and “Make Someone Happy.”