Hartford is home to a variety of organizations serving communities in need, and places of worship like Christ Church Cathedral is no exception. Not only is it the home of the MANNA/Hands On Hartford’s soup kitchen, but it also serves as the residency of Cuatro Puntos, a non-profit organization dedicated to intercultural dialogue and universal access through the performance, writing, and teaching of music. In addition to performing classical and contemporary pieces throughout the state, the Cuatro Puntos Chamber Ensemble frequently works with other organizations, such as last year’s collaboration with American School for the Deaf, celebrating 200 years of American Sign Language.
While the ensemble performs in the ground-level chapel, a new musical group has been taking shape in the soup kitchen downstairs. Every Wednesday before food is served, anyone and everyone are welcomed to a multi-purpose room equipped with couches and a piano. This musical group, named “Music Moves Hartford,” was formed primarily for those in our community experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. The group began rehearsing in April after Cuatro Puntos was looking for more ways to fulfill their mission. “[It is] important to use music for means greater than itself,” executive director Kevin Bishop said. “Forming a choir helps build a sense of community, purpose, and joy. Now, people have opened up and they’re coming up with their own ideas.”
Music Moves Hartford was modeled after the Dallas Street Choir, and it’s the only ensemble of its kind in the state. Music Director Dianne Rechel starts rehearsals with breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups before quickly launching into a repertoire consisting of mostly American Songbook classics. They’ll be working with guest composer and Hartt School of Music faculty member David MacBride on an original song that they’ll also perform in a music video. Over the coming weeks, MacBride will be taking contributions from the choir and setting them to an original melody. According to MacBride, these contributions can range from single words to full paragraphs, certain sounds, even favorite genres of music. The central theme of the piece will be the idea of “home” and celebrating Greater Hartford. This theme could not be more relevant for the choir, considering how transient its population can be. Their first performance will be at a memorial service for a fellow choir member who sadly passed away, and had been singing with the group since the beginning.
The goal of Music Moves Hartford is to allow choir members to express themselves, resulting in a feeling of accomplishment. Their weekly informal performance for the soup kitchen also helps recruit members, and now a second group meets at South Park Inn every Tuesday evening. Bishop hopes to eventually bring the two groups together for a special performance. In the meantime, the downtown choir’s first big performances are scheduled for November 2nd at Christ Church Cathedral, where they’ll be performing MacBride’s composition. You can also check them at I Am An Artist Day at Old State House Plaza on September 12 from 11:30-1:30pm!
For more information on Music Moves Hartford and Cuatro Puntos and to find out how you can help, please visit their website at www.cuatropuntos.org.