Hancock musician collaborates to create ‘America The Dream’

  • Steve Schuch of Hancock has worked many months to create a new song based on ‘America The Beautiful’ and recently launched a website for the song, ‘America The Dream’. Courtesy photo

  • Steve Schuch of Hancock collaborated with Shelbie Rassler, a musician at the Juilliard School of Music, to create 'America The Dream'. Courtesy photo—

  • Steve Schuch of Hancock collaborated with Shelbie Rassler, conducting, a musician at the Juilliard School of Music, to create ‘America The Dream’. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 12/9/2020 4:14:52 PM

When Steve Schuch was helping to plan the annual Martin Luther King Day festivities in Hancock earlier this year, he had a thought.

Why not take the melody and opening lines to “America The Beautiful”, the parts that just about everyone knows of the patriotic song originally written as a poem by Katharine Lee Bates that was put to the music of Samuel Ward, and create a new chorus and verses inspiring by the vision of Dr. King. The end result was a nine month project and the release of “America The Dream”.

“I think it was time to expand the verses and create a new chorus,” Schuch said. “You can arrange any song lots of different ways.”

Schuch of Hancock saw an opportunity for a song for all ages, colors, religions and beliefs. An anthem weaving together Bates’ original vision of the beauty of America, with Dr. King’s dream for all America.

It was a collaboration of many people, including Schuch’s musical counterpart Mike Bradley and Shelbie Rassler, currently a graduate student at the Juilliard School of Music who Schuch has never met in person.

It started with a simple version at the MLK celebration and it was a long journey until the launch of the project’s website in November. Schuch and Bradley worked over many sessions to get the words to fit.

“You have to work pretty hard to get that feeling,” Schuch said. “If you do it well enough, it will feel just right. We took a lot of time and care.” He called it the most ambitious undertaking the two have ever been a part of.

There are six different versions of “America The Dream” available for free on the website for non-commercial use, including three choral renditions, giving educators and choral directors the opportunity to use the song appropriate for their work.

“It could be sung lots of different times,” he said. “This way someone can download all six and really listen. It makes it easy for them to look and listen to all the versions and pick whichever one fits.”

Schuch said that almost everybody knows the first few lines of “America The Beautiful” and the melody is hard not to remember, but the rest he has found difficult to truly relate to.

“The opening lines were so beautiful,” Schuch said.

With so much division in the country in recent years, Schuch hopes that this is a song, in some small way, can make a difference and allow the country to heal.

“You’re creating something that can pull people together and feel good singing,” he said.

Bringing in Rassler came about after seeing her virtual orchestra production of “What the World Needs Now”, which has received more than 2 million views on YouTube.

“I thought this is great. I’ve got to talk to her,” Schuch said. He was able to connect with Rassler through her school at the time, Berklee College of Music, and the collaboration gained even more traction.

“She’s one of the bright young lights in the classical music world,” Schuch said. The two have worked together online because during the time of coronavirus, getting together in person was not an option.

It took many hours to get just the right sound to it all.

“But if you do it right, if you do it well enough, a lot of people won’t even notice,” Schuch said. “When you write a song, hopefully at the end, it feels just right. And we really need more songs like this.”

Schuch isn’t sure what the end result will be for “America The Dream”. Since it is so new and choruses and school groups aren’t performing in the same way as they used to, he understands that not many people know about it yet.

“You don’t know for sure where it’s going to end up,” he said. “You try to send it out into the world with the best chance and see where it goes. The goal would be eventually, that could be five to ten years down the road, to gradually, as it gets known, people will be delighted. I think this one could reach a lot of people.”

For more, visit https://americathedream.org/.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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