Q. Are donations to the Choral Tales Project tax-deductible?
A. Yes. The project’s sponsor is a 501(c)3 non-profit called Artists Building Capacity as World Citizens (or ABC World Citizens), based in New Hampshire and also registered in California.
Q. Would my donation go to the non-profit sponsor, or to the project's creative director?
A. It would go to the non-profit sponsor, ABC World Citizens. The artistic director does not receive or manage funds. ABC World Citizens receives earmarked donations and provides professional bookkeeping. ABC World Citizens is the project's fiscal sponsor and handles project expenses.
Q. What will the funds be used for?
A. To pay for production expenses of professional participants such as the choral director, choir, choreographers, dancers, audio engineer, video production team, and web designer.
Q. What if the donation I can afford is a modest amount?
A. The project is energized by the participation of all who want to take part. We are grateful to receive donations of any size you feel moved to give. $20 or more from each of the project's many sympathizers would be a wonderful help.
About the Project
Q. How can the project help strengthen bonds, within and between communities?
A. This project can make a significant contribution, through the arts, to the process of community building. Its scope is international; yet every time a Choral Tale is performed or its videos or CDs are played, whether in a large city or small village, its impact will be local.
If the concept were eventually to catch on, it could become a catalyst for a kind of international social and artistic movement that builds community locally, a way for youth as well as adults to re-connect with their cultural roots, and express their culture in a highly engaging, compelling, and unifying way.
Q. How can the project strengthen bonds between Artist and Community?
A. Part of the purpose of the Choral Tales project is to foster a more vital bond between artists and the communities they serve. The project is designed to allow the artists involved to address themselves directly to the public, harnessing the internet and social media to raise awareness of the Choral Tales, while encouraging communities in various parts of the world to perform the songs and dances with local resources. The project aspires to offer works that reward repeated listening and viewing on the part of discerning art appreciators. Yet there is also an aspiration to couch the works in a language of words, tones and dance movements that a broad portion of the public would find meaningful – a language inspired by human values, free to explore beyond traditional terrains when called for, yet rooted in culture.
The basic objective is not only to offer something attractive to members of the culture from which a given folk tale is drawn, but also to present to the public, through music and dance, a body of tales from around the world, and in so doing to spread intercultural appreciation and foster the spirit of human oneness.
Q. Why folk tales?
A. Folk tales lie at the opposite end of the spectrum from novels and plays. They are far too short to allow for anything like character development, psychological conflict within the protagonist, exploration of life’s complexities, or the many shades between virtue and vice, all of which add to the fascination of longer literary forms.
Yet folk tales have an enchantment of their own. They exist on a plane of abstraction, a step removed from the world of stories meant to be taken literally. The tales involved in this project are more akin to allegories, a kind of extended metaphor that focuses on one subject and makes its point briefly and cogently.
While combinations of vocal music and dance are found in traditional music around the world, the unusual feature here is that the narrator of the stories is not a soloist but the choir itself.
Sometimes folk tales are mistakenly regarded as intended solely for children, but the reality is that for countless centuries, they were employed throughout the world as an important means of conveying, from one generation to the next, a culture’s outlook on life. As a result, folk tales offer a many-colored window to the cultures of the world. This concept is reflected in the colorful globe of the Choral Tales logo.
Q. Why does the project give priority to choirs, instead of relying on solo singers?
A. At least three reasons:
1. Choral singing strengthens community bonds. It is an inherently social experience.
2. Instead of relying on a soloist with special talents, choral singing brings out the best in amateur singers with average abilities. Since there are far more amateur choral singers than highly skilled soloists, it is arguable that choral music, when well written, has a better chance of being taken up by substantial numbers of musicians and spreading among a wider audience than songs for solo singers.
3. Worldwide, the popularity of choral singing is growing vigorously. A 2009 study by Chorus America found that, in the United States alone, there are some 36,000 college and community choirs (non-church) – the type of choir the choral tales are intended for. Moreover, national and international choral festivals, which are held in many parts of the world, frequently highlight new works.
Q. The project is offered as a way for communities to bring the arts into local activities, regardless of whether the participants have professional levels of skill. Yet many of the artists involved in producing the Choral Tales are themselves professionals. How is this explained?
A. As the project develops over time, many of the songs will be written at an intermediate level of technical difficulty that college choirs and non-professional community choirs can perform. The choreographed pieces are also to have an intermediate level of technical difficulty. The idea is to choreograph dances in such a way that they could be emulated, at least in their broad outlines, by youthful non-professional dancers in local communities virtually anywhere in the world.
It is hoped that local dancers on less advanced skill levels, after viewing online videos showing the creations of the project’s professional choreographers, will be inspired to act out the folk tales with their own choreography, in a style consistent with their own culture. In these and other ways, the project seeks to bridge the divide between professional artist and public, encouraging the latter to move from a posture of passive consumption to one of active appreciation and direct involvement with the arts.
© Ludwig Tuman 2017