A unique work of art with ambition : eliminating racism through the power and the beauty of Music.
Symbols are important. Putting all kinds of people together on stage to sing the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the project. Peace Oratorio is bringing the vitality of a world class Gospel choir with the precision of a great classical choir. We are putting together African, Jazz and Pop/Rock players alongside classically trained musicians. We are breaking down barriers, showing the way to a world where people live together peacefully. Music has this power.
With its Music Education program, the Peace Oratorio show puts children in the front row clapping along, singing strong and on the front line of understanding and appreciating the courage and conviction of Dr. King! Civic Education through Music Education will shape the hearts and minds of these young people and make racism and ostracism a thing of the past! This will be done.
I hope the Peace Oratorio project inspires you!
Our Goal : To get a large group of singers and musicians of all ages and all roots together on one stage to create a musical experience that has never existed before; a unique blend of classical, gospel, reggae and pop inspired by the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A work of music based on the theme of peace between peoples, races and religions.
You can use this website to learn the songs. For those who read music, download the scores by clicking on Scores / Partitions. (Pour les lecteurs de musique).
For non-readers, click on Learn The Songs ! and download the MP3s for each song or section (Sopranos, Altos, Tenors) then click on Lyrics/Textes. (Pour les non-lecteurs).
The Musical Apprenticeship of PEACE ORATORIO in a classroom
Welcome : When John Meldrum arrives in a school, a music teacher or another teacher will introduce him to the students who want to participate. There should be about twenty children and a minimum of two adults who will learn the songs with John. There should be at least one teacher present at all times during the class.
Warm Up : To start things off, there will be a warm up with stretching and breathing while John explains to the students that the singer’s instrument, unlike other musicians, is his/her body. Afterwards, if there is a piano, John will have the students sing some simple exercises to help establish the concept of singing in tune. (If there is no piano, John plays the exercises on his guitar.) If there are not too many children, he can listen to individual voices both of the kids. The participants are always interested in singing and listening to each other, but if there is a child that is too shy to try, John doesn’t force, he simply moves on to the next voice.
Learning the songs : After the warm up and exercises, they start right away with “Brother, Brother” from Peace Oratorio. John starts off by getting everyone to move their feet from right to left while keeping the rhythm, then to put their hands together and clap the High Life rhythm that is the lynchpin of this song as well as some others. Once the “beat” is established, John then gets everyone to go “Shoo” on the downbeat of each measure. It’s fun and playful, but especially it’s efficient in instilling the rhythmic fundamentals and the physical and vocal coordination that this music necessitates.
Rehearsal : John then takes out his guitar and they learn the song from the beginning. It’s from this moment on that the children get the idea of the song’s structure : the first verse, the chorus, the second verse, another chorus, and then… the bridge! What is a bridge? James Brown sang “Take it to the Bridge!”, right? Well, in “Brother, Brother” it’s where they put their hands in the air and sway from right to left singing “Ooh, Ooh, Ah, Ooh, Ooh, Ah… Find a way, Hey, Hey, Hey!” It is perhaps a cliché to see an audience do this in a concert, but when a room full of children do it, it’s magical! After, it’s the 3rd verse, and then a stop time, and they sing “No Gun, No Fight, No War, No Poverty” before a double chorus and the coda.
It’s at this moment that John can speak to the children briefly about peaceful coexistence and nonviolence, the key tenets of Martin Luther King and Gandhi. But in any case, it’s all in the songs! Practicing prepares the minds of the children to listen to an elder talk about the Civil Rights movement when they all get together for a dress rehearsal the week before the big show.
Recap : We start again with “Brother, Brother” with the new intro of “No Gun, No Fight, No War, No Poverty” that segues into the Beethoven theme of Ode to Joy and then we’re back into the song! When they get to the coda, John works with the children on their physical coordination, moving their feet, clapping their hands and using their voices to sing “Shoo” while the guitar solo gets into motion. It’s very interesting, because when the children will be in the theater performing from their seats in the public, they will be totally submerged in the music physically yet at the same time their ears and minds will capture the musical phrases of the musicians improvisations. Children have huge musical capacities, and this concert which they actively prepare for weeks and months in advance will represent an inspiring moment for them! It is also interesting to note that the musicians are also very inspired to play in front of this young audience because not only are the kids enthusiastic, they are active participants because they have mastered the essential elements of the songs.
If we have the time, we can start the song “Happy Feet” in the same way as “Brother, Brother” and finish with the more challenging “Down To The River”. John will leave a CD of the 3 songs that the children can practice with at home or in the school during recess. And of course, anyone can access the MP3s, lyrics and scores of the songs by going to www.peaceoratorio.org.
Normally, 3 sessions of 90 minutes are necessary to put together the three songs well. With this amount of time, John can get to know the kids better, and they can understand his music, too.
John Meldrum and the Highlites LIVE in Paris at the Alhambra Theater 2012 !