A message of hope

As the first wave of the coronavirus passes over us, people are yearning to "get back to normal." But, as experts from all fields of endeavor tell us—"normal" is still a long way off, and for many of us, there is no "going back."

It was a little over two weeks ago that I got the idea, inspired by a Palm Sunday sermon by our Unitarian minister here in Portland, Bill Sinkford, to make a virtual choir video of "We Rise" a song from a suite called "Step By Step," inspired by the story of civil rights icon Ruby Bridges. "We Rise" is a reference to Maya Angelou’s powerful poem "Still I Rise" that speaks to a similar message.

I am amazed and frankly, stunned at 24 voices came together in literally a matter of days. But maybe I shouldn’t be. We are seeing the desire for human connection fueled by compassion around us every day. To be the recipient of this possibility makes me feel humbled and strengthened.

With gratitude to the first responders, essential workers, medical professionals, teachers, activists, advocates, and others who have risen to the challenge, and to the creative artists who continue to provide sustenance for our souls and point us steadfastly toward connection. We invite you to love bigger, dream harder, and imagine new possibilities. We hope you enjoy "We Rise" by the "Love Bigger" Virtual Choir of:

Marilyn Keller, Jennifer Hayman, Jason Shelton, Tony Jackson, Dana Buhl, Gregory Ford, Malcolm Grant, Brian Blade, Clark Sommers, Darrell Grant, Lindsey Miller, Rahsaan Barber, Cremaine Booker, Elizabeth Miller, Danielle Barker, Jane Burton, Emily Packard, Amy Darrow, Alana Griffith, Elaine Bailey-Fryd, Beth Harrington, Jaie Tiefenbrunn, Dana Gary, Greg Gunther, John Boelling, Bradford Reszel, Destin Weishaar


A Festival of Masterclasses By Musicians for Musicians

On Sunday, April 26th at 4 pm Pacific I'm partnering with jazz flugelhornist and educator Dmitri Matheny as part of Virtual Voices, an online live music masterclass festival bringing professional artist-educators into your home. Each 40-minute session is hosted by a different musician highlighting a particular aspect of their creative work.

My session is called An Artist's Perspective on the Grantmaking Process. It is designed to answer basic questions and provide helpful insights to artists who are curious about the world of grants, collaborations, and institutional funding for their projects. I'm finding now that many of the skills of grant applications can be directly applied to seeking relief funding.

You can attend one or several of the Virtual Voices sessions. Individual workshops are affordably priced at $10, and all proceeds go directly to that workshop's presenter. Email me to RSVP | Buy $10 Ticket

Click here for the entire schedule and more details about all the artists.

Sanctuaries Postponed to 2021

This week would have been the premiere of my first opera, Sanctuaries. I am definitely feeling some grief but also immense gratitude to my co-creators, many collaborators, and the community partners who continue to enrich the work. There are many ways to stay connected to the process.

  • Third Angle New Music put together a playlist of music that inspired me, director Alexander Gedeon, librettist Anis Mojgani, and vocalists Damien Geter and Marilyn Keller. Here you can find notes on what each piece means to us.
  • Listen to the Third Angle podcast episode where Artistic Director Sarah Tiedemann interviews Alexander and me here.

As interesting to me as the process of writing the opera Sanctuaries has been the question "What would it take for the African American community to feel such ownership of the piece that they could feel like this is our opera?"

As we move forward in this time of unknowing, I am confident that Sanctuaries will only become more relevant to our communities.

Sending you and yours wishes for health, safety, and peace.


— Darrell