North Park University Ensemble to Perform in "Urban Dolorosa" Remembrance

School of Music at North Park University
The North Park University Chamber Soloists performed Nov. 1 at the first of five memorial Urban Dolorosa events. This event was held at The Faith Community of Saint Sabina, Chicago. (Photo by Rebecca Olthafer)

Project honors memory of Chicago children killed by violence

CHICAGO (October 31, 2011) – The North Park University Chamber Soloists will perform in a series of five Chicago multimedia concert events Nov. 1-6 that honor the memories of more than 260 Chicago children who have died as a result of violence in the past three years.

Known as "Urban Dolorosa" (The Sorrowing City), the project involves a memorial pilgrimage to various locations throughout the city. Urban Dolorosa asks all city residents "to notice our dead and dying children, and to work together for peace by joining this memorial pilgrimage and committing to end youth violence in our city," according to a news release. A significant ecumenical and multicultural group of Chicago religious leaders, artists and community leaders organized the pilgrimage. Local school and community groups and soloists are collaborating at each event.

"I think this is the noblest charitable project I've ever done," said David Yonan, who directs the Chamber Soloists for the North Park University School of Music. "I've done a lot of benefit concerts for the United Nations, human rights groups, but this particular project is something which I fully endorse and fully support."

Yonan learned of the opportunity from a widely distributed email from one of the project's organizers, the Rev. Susan Johnson, senior minister, Hyde Park Union Church, Chicago. Yonan presented the idea to University leaders who enthusiastically supported the Chamber Soloists' involvement. "When David first told me about the project, I thought it was not only a wonderful performance opportunity for the Chamber Soloists, but also a most worthwhile project – and one that truly fits North Park’s mission to help prepare students to lead lives of significance and service," said Dr. Craig Johnson, dean of the School of Music.

The students have held at least 15 practices to prepare for the Urban Dolorosa events. "When I proposed this to the students, I said to them, 'This is going to be a lot of extra work, a lot of extra rehearsals. Do you think you can commit?' Not one said no," Yonan said. 

The eight-member North Park University Chamber Soloists and others will perform a 50-minute classical requiem, "Urban Dolorosa," written by Father Vaughn Fayle, OFM, Chicago, a South African composer and Franciscan friar, with lyrics by Susan Johnson. The North Park soloists will also perform a prelude, "Summa," at each concert, written by Estonian classical composer and Oscar winner, Arvo Pärt." Student violinists from Columbia College will perform with the North Park ensemble, Yonan said.

Fayle has attended some of the Chamber Soloists' rehearsals and provided considerable encouragement to the students, Yonan said.

The honors ensemble showcases the University's School of Music and its strings program, and has performed in venues throughout the city, Yonan said. Students volunteer for the ensemble, whether they get credit for it or not, he said. "I enjoy working with those students because I know they are doing this because they love music," Yonan said.

Dates and locations of the Chicago Urban Dolorosa memorial events are:

North Park University President Dr. David Parkyn plans to attend the Nov. 6 event, and Dr. Joseph Jones, University provost, plans to attend the Nov. 2 event. Both may participate in the program. School of Music personnel will represent the University and accompany the Chamber Soloists at various performances, including Dr. Rebecca Olthafer, director of operations and music recruiter; Dr. Tom Zelle, director of orchestral activities; and Craig Johnson. Religious leaders, plus top state and local government leaders are expected to attend and possibly participate in some of the memorial events.


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