Giving Voice to PeaceGiving Voice to Peace
Sunday, April 10, 2011 4 p.m.
Stambaugh Auditorium

Presented by Stambaugh Chorus
Hae Jong Lee, Director


Gary Sexton, Director WYSU-FM, Master of Ceremonies
AWARD PRESENTATION For Art Contest Winners By Judge Theresa Dellick

Stambaugh Auditorium, 1000 Fifth Avenue, Youngstown Ohio

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Program Notes from Dr. Hae Jong Lee, Artistic Director

In preparation of “Giving Voice to Peace”

April 10, 2011

It seems apparent that human society cannot go on even one step without so much pain, as we witness the catastrophic events, which recently happened in Japan causing tremendous pain in so many people.  In one town alone many thousands of people have lost their lives. How can we fathom this event? Often times I am lost in understanding multiple events happening around this world.  Sometimes the pain is caused by natural disasters and other times by human causes such as greed, bias, prejudice, religious and racial oppression, war, political game and even advanced technology that once advantaged human life but has turned into monstrous destruction like the nuclear plant in Japan, to sample some.

We all want ‘PEACE’ in our lives here where we live. Don’t we? How do we accomplish peace in our hearts, in our neighborhoods, and this world?   Is it ever possible? Can we make it? Can I be one of the peacemakers?  Do I have the courage to begin something worthwhile for ‘PEACE’?  Those questions are never far from me who live in the Youngstown-Warren area.  Each time I hear violent news from our towns, those questions come back to my mind.

As a choral conductor, I suggest a small, but very significant step to ‘PEACE.’  It is singing together and making ensembles together without age-, racial-, and gender-barriers. The lyrics of one of the songs we sing in this event catch our attention.  It says, “Do you know who I am? Do I know who you are?” In order to turn the world around, the song asks us to listen, understand, and help one another better in sacrifice. Yes, it is a simple truth, which we learned in kindergarten. The truth can be experienced in choral ensembles every time we rehearse and perform. A good choral rehearsal and performance requires a good ringing tone, pure vowels, accurate pitches, and balanced harmony among different voices, in addition to honest expression of the lyrics.  None of them can be accomplished without attentive listening to one another.  If someone is hearing only his/her voice while singing in a choral ensemble, one cannot be a good choral singer.  In fact, absence of active listening can be detrimental to the overall sound in the choral group experience.

This leads to my next comment about this essential issue.  Good harmony is built on harmonic overtones.  When a pitch is produced, the sound rings not only in the actual pitch but also in the overtones above the pitch, mainly intervals such as octave, fifth, third, etc.

Therefore, to produce pure harmony, one must hear the overtones sung by other voices and match one’s voice to the overtones.  Only then, the singer is a positive enforcement of the harmony and the ensemble.  That’s why we feel good when we hear a well-balanced harmony.  That’s why our whole being (body, mind, emotion, and soul) trembles with good choral music, when it is performed with good choral tones and harmonic balance with true expression of the song text.  That’s why, I believe, good choral singing can change lives and further build a good society and the world.

Here lies the root of this meaningful event of ‘Giving Voice to Peace.’ Choral singers of all ages from this Mahoning valley gathered to sing for ‘PEACE’ in this event.  We are united in songs to share our message of hope and ‘PEACE’ with you.  “Come, my friends, we are bound for the journey home. We are one!” “We will make the difference! Take my hand!” “We rise again in the faces of our children. We rise again in the voices of our song. We rise again in the waves out on the ocean, and then we rise again.” This is our hope that you find some courage of hope and ‘PEACE’ from each and every song we sing.

I am grateful to have the support of the City of Youngstown for the proclamation of ‘PEACE’ on this day.  I want to thank ‘Giving Voice to Peace’ concert committee for their countless meetings and hours to prepare for this event.  I also thank all participants, including singers, directors, sponsors, art contest participants, helpers and audience for sharing their talent and willingness to promote this meaningful event in this community.


Hae-Jong Lee
Artistic Director of  “Giving Voice to Peace” Choral Festival
Artistic Director of Stambaugh Chorus
Director of Choral Activities, Dana School of Music, YSU