Water For My Soul A Collaborative Composition Project
During August 2018, Shelter Music Boston audiences in homeless shelters and recovery programs throughout Greater Boston heard the world premiere performances of a suite of music titled Water For My Soul. This composition was the result of over two years of collaboration between the musicians of SMB and Shelter Music Boston audiences at Caspar Emergency Shelter, Pine Street Women’s Inn and Shattuck Shelter, Lifebridge Salem, and My Sister’s House and Women’s Recovery at the Dimock Center.
Click here for a performance of Water For My Soul How did this collaboration work? Release,by Danielle Williams, was the first piece in the suite. It is a musical setting of the words of a 2012 Pine Street Inn-Shattuck Shelter guest who wrote, “The music reminds me that I am still human and renews my ambition to resolve my circumstances.” These poetic words inspired SMB Artistic Director Julie Leven to seek a composer to set them to music. Releasewas performed in shelter and public concerts in the autumn of 2016. Audiences loved it. In particular, a shelter audience member said, “This is great…the words of someone who walked in my shoes inspired a new piece of music!”
Julie Leven and Jennie Dorris leading a collaborative composition workshop at Pine Street Women's Inn in June 2017.
The collaboration was expanded to include many more shelter guests. In June of 2017 SMB musicians presented six workshops which invited and inspired our audience members to create and evolve musical puzzle pieces into short pieces of music. During the workshops audience members heard a simple musical idea and then were able to “play” with it. That meant: ask the musicians to play it higher, lower, faster, slower, backwards, forwards, in different rhythms, and many other variations. The short pieces that resulted became the musical building blocks Danielle Williams used to create Shells From the Sea and Wicked Spirits. The titles of these two movements of the suite quote the words of audience members attending the workshops.
Finally, composers Yu-Hui Chang and Francine Trester were inspired by audience members reflections written following SMB concerts over many years. These composers wrote The Path In Front of Me and In Our Own Words, works based on the words of Shelter Music Boston audience members. In Our Own Words was designed to provided shelter audience members with an opportunity to participate in the performances of the piece by reading previous audience members quotes, or the lyrics of the piece, during the performances.