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Monadnock choir sings songs for justice

  • Grace Aldrich, of Dublin, sings during the first Monadnock Area Justice Choir rehearsal on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Hannah Bissex, of Rindge, sings while holding her young daughter Glenda during the first Monadnock Area Justice Choir rehearsal on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Martha Dahl, of Peterborough, sings during the first Monadnock Area Justice Choir rehearsal on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Grace Aldrich Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Grace Aldrich Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, February 08, 2018

A newly formed choir whose mission is to bring communities together to inspire strength, solidarity, and change in situations that warrant justice met for the first time last week.

The Monadnock Area Justice Choir is a local offshoot of a national effort that was launched by three composers not long after the Women’s March in January 2017. The march took place a day after President Donald J. Trump was sworn into the highest office in the land, and again, a year later.

Marybeth Hallinan, who directs a number of choirs in Peterborough and organized the Monadnock Area Justice Choir, said she wanted to start the choir soon after she became aware of the initiative.

“Everything was telling me to run in this direction,” Hallinan said about launching the choir.

Hallinan said she knew a lot of people in the region are politically active and assumed the choir would be successful in the area. Hallinan said so far there are around 60 names on the choir’s running roster, and that about 50 people gathered at the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church to sing at the event on Thursday.

Hallinan said she doesn’t generally take too much of a political stance, but that this initiative resonated with her because it’s all about empowering people to use their voice – whether that be through speaking or singing.

A document handed out at the rehearsal reads that the choir is non-violent, non-exclusive, open, welcoming, affirming, generous, eco-friendly, and tasked with building a “beloved community.” It says, “singing together is one small piece of a larger puzzle of creating transformation on a local level,” but says the choir “will not endorse any political party or candidate.” 

“I don’t know about you, but it just feels really good to gather,” Hallinan said during a short break in music on Thursday. 

Hallinan said a number of people came up to her after the rehearsal and reinforced how good it felt to be together that night.

“I just think singing is powerful, uniting and I’m tired of losing my voice at rallies because, you know, I’m shouting,” Grace Aldrich, who lives in Dublin, said after the rehearsal. 

Chase Wilson Roeper, of Lyndeborough, also attended the event on Thursday. Roeper said she has been singing in Hallinan’s choirs for a long time.

She was drawn to the Justice Choir because she feels “very passionate about the right to assemble.”

“It’s so important for people to speak up and be there,” Roeper said.

For a long time, Roeper said she hasn’t been there, she was too busy living. She said she also didn’t feel a need to attend rallies. But that’s changed.

“I feel like for a long time I was asleep and now I’m awake,” she said.

And that means she intends to exercise her right to assemble now. Roeper said she teaches dyslexic students and she wants to fight for them -- the future.

“Our job is almost to protect the young people,” she said.

The pop-up choir meets on the first Thursday of every month from 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at the church in Peterborough. Hallinan said there are no gatherings out in the community scheduled yet but hopes to organize one in the near future.

To join the group, Hallinan encouraged people to contact her directly. The flyer handed out at the event promotes inclusivity, diversity and says “all voices are welcome and important.”

It says no one will be admonished for singing a “wrong” note.