With religious tensions high around the world, one Chicago-based a cappella group is aiming to make a difference with the one tool it has: music.
Chicago a cappella kicked off its "Global Transcendence" program with concerts on October 11-12, and two more are scheduled for this weekend. The program showcases "the musical intersections of the world’s faiths" with selections from Jewish, Hindu, Baha'i, Christian and other traditions.
The interfaith theme of the concert is deeply rooted in founder and artistic director Jonathan Miller's own background. In the program notes for the show, Miller wrote:
My parents met while studying Hinduism and meditation in Boston. Swami Akhilananda, my parents’ teacher and one of the pioneering bridge-builders between Eastern and Western religion and psychology, had posted on the wall of the Boston Vedanta Society a saying from the Rig Veda, a sacred Sanskrit text, which began: “Truth is One; Sages call It by various names.” My parents taught me this idea in my earliest years, and it remains a birthright of sorts for me.
On top of this background, Miller serves as cantor during High Holy Days services at a Conservative Jewish synagogue in Chicago and has sung in Catholic and Protestant services for decades, the group's executive director Matthew Greenberg told HuffPost.
Combine Miller's passion for spiritual traditions with current events, and the show's timing could not be better, Greenberg said.
"It seems that never before has our world been more aware of sectarian and inter-religious conflict," he said. "It so fills the airwaves and information flow that we begin to think there is nothing that connects us, only that which divides."
This concert, Greenberg said, aims to dispute that.
Listen to a sampling of Chicago a cappella's "Global Transcendence" program below:
"Dastam Begir," a Baha’i song with soloist Emily Price:
Begins with Eshu O, a traditional Ghanaian chant, and segues into “Alleluiarion of Pentekoste," a traditional Greek Orthodox chant:
“O Lux Beatissima” by Howard Helvey, featuring ancient Christian text: