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Voices for Peace - A Tribute
VOICES FOR PEACE was a community vocal ensemble in the Hudson Valley, directed for four years by soprano and peace activist Danielle Woerner.
Music has always been an integral part of the peace movement, and the chorus existed to bring a harmonious influence to anti-war marches and demonstrations, where conflicts and counter-demonstrations can flare, and to bring a repertoire of new and traditional songs of peace and social justice to concerts, street festivals and other occasions. Our musicians ranged from professionals with active careers to amateurs who wanted to lend their voices to the cause. They came from all over the mid-Hudson region.
Several of the Voices for Peace were songwriters, and the core of the group became a singer-songwriter collective including Rebecca "Redwood" Lowden and Michael "Moose" Dmoch of the folk duo Redwood Moose, T.G. Vanini of the Princes of Serendip, composer-pianist Shirley Warren, and Woerner. So the group drew on a variety of songs written by "its own" as well as other Hudson Valley song-smiths (including Pete Seeger). We also performed many of the classic movement songs of the 1960s, '70s and earlier.
The group regularly performed at venues like the Bluestone Festival in Kingston, Rosendale Street Festival, Apple Blossom Festival in Red Hook, Woodstock's annual Martin Luther King commemoration, and the annual Mother's Day leafleting (May) and Hiroshima Commemoration (August) in New Paltz that were hosted by their parent organization, Arts for Peace. The Voices were also heard on the faculty concert series at Dutchess Community College, and at antiwar rallies featuring then-U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey at SUNY New Paltz. VfP opened a "Folk the Vote!" event at BackStage Productions in Kingston, organized by John Pietaro and the Flames of Discontent, to help inspire and turn out voters for the 2006 midterm elections.
In its last active year, the group was planning a recording of new songs for peace, which Woerner had begun assembling for Woodlark Rising Records. The projected recording would have included music by members of Voices for Peace, plus songs/ performances by David Alpher& Jennie Litt, Ras T. Asheber, Peggy Atwood, Karen Beth, Kurt Henry, the Hudson Valley Youth Chorale, Redwood Moose, Tom Pacheco, Leslie Ritter and Scott Petito, Jon Stein, the Princes of Serendip, the Vanaver Caravan, Dennis Yerry and others.
After the deaths of two of its most committed members, Lowden and Dmoch, coupled with the optimisim engendered by the election of Barack Obama that the U.S. was entering a phase-out of war and aggression, VfP disbanded.
But during the group's time, it made a difference. The sense that we were doing something of value, in our own small-scale, grass-roots way, was reinforced by the gratitude people often expressed after performances: that we were out there spreading this message and music abroad as one alternative "channel" to the overwhelming messages promulgated by conservative media juggernauts like Clear Channel and Fox News.
Voices for Peace is remembered fondly by its members, and by those who heard us and joined in singing with us.