Collaborative Composition Project: Water For My Soul
During August 2018, Shelter Music Boston audiences in homeless shelters and recovery programs heard the world premiere performances of a suite of music called Water For My Soul. This new work of music is the result of over two years of collaboration between the musicians of SMB and the audiences Shelter Music Boston serves 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 to watch a performance of Water For My Soul. How did this collaboration work? Release, by Danielle Williams, was the first piece of the suite to have been written. This is a musical setting of the words of a 2012 Pine Street Inn-Shattuck Shelter guest. She wrote, “The music reminds me that I am still human and renews my ambition to resolve my circumstances.” 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 a short piece 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 piece that resulted after each workshop became the musical ideas Danielle Williams used to create Shells From the Sea and Wicked Spirits. The titles of these two movements of the suite result from the words of audience members attending the workshops.
Finally, composers Yu-Hui Chang and Francine Trester were inspired by the beautiful statements audience members have written following SMB concerts over many years. These composers have created The Path In Front of Me and In Our Own Words. Both of these movements include words of Shelter Music Boston audience members. The August 2018 performances of In Our Own Words even provided shelter audience members who would like to join the performance with an opportunity to participate in the concert by reading the quotes from previous audience members before the musicians perform Francine Trester’s music.