To Be Human - Seattle Iranian Choir and Seattle Peace Chorus Action Ensemble

Dedicated to the victims of racial injustice.

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A message from António Guterres,
United Nations Secretary-General
100-day countdown
to International Day of Peace

Each year, on 21 September, the United Nations calls on everyone, everywhere, to observe 24 hours of non-violence and ceasefire. Today, 100 days before the International Day of Peace, it is essential to remember that our common enemy is a virus that causes widespread suffering and risks reversing decades of human progress.

That is why, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, I called on all warring parties to lay down their weapons. These are not normal times, and our responses cannot be routine. The pandemic is not just a health issue. It is having direct and troubling effects on development, peace and security.

Our global ceasefire appeal is resonating in many places and with many different groups. While distrust can make implementation difficult, I have been heartened by the strong support the appeal has received from civil society, which can influence and mobilize people at the grassroots.

This year’s theme for the Day, “Shaping Peace Together,” reflects the reason the United Nations was founded. Throughout this year, to mark our 75th anniversary, the United Nations is asking people to engage in a global conversation about how to tackle the greatest global challenges together, from climate change and poverty to racism and gender inequality.

Let us use these dialogues, as well as the International Day of Peace, to exchange ideas on how to achieve a global ceasefire, heal our planet and turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity for peace. Let us build back better for more inclusive and peaceful societies.

2020 Theme: Shaping Peace Together

Working for Peace and Justice

During these times of contagion, when singing together can exacerbate the risk for everyone, Seattle Peace Chorus is planning to work for peace and justice in new and creative ways.

“If a choir is only about singing and performing - there will be no choir for a while. If choir is about teaching and learning, growing, connecting, community, cultural exploration and transmission, and innovating - we will find a way to have choir.” — Kellie Walsh, President of Choral Canada

Freedom Rings: Get Out the Vote

Fred West and our Repertoire Committee are working on plans for a virtual concert to be broadcast on 24 or 25 October 2020, featuring:

  • A new arrangement for Fred West’s composition based on the poem by Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again.”
    • This new arrangement will provide opportunities for all SPC members to participate, and we will be backed by a professional quartet recorded in a studio.
    • Our orchestra will be assembled from computer-generated instruments and live recordings with conga and oboe.
  • A collaboration with Kent Stevenson and the Shades of Praise Gospel Choir on “The Storm Is Passing Over” by Charles Albert Tindley and arranged by Kent Stevenson with singers from Kent’s Shades of Praise Gospel Choir.
  • Other inspiring songs of peace and justice to be accompanied by videos contributed by chorus members.

We Who Believe in Freedom

We invite all choir members to video yourself this summer (or have someone close to you hold your phone) while you sing the refrain from “Ella’s Song” by Sweet Honey in the Rock, at the beach, on the lake, in the woods, surrounded by flowers, on a bridge, or wherever you like.

Use a phone app to get your starting note:

  • Basses and tenors, start on A below middle C (not your low A).
  • Sopranos, start on A above middle C.
  • Altos, start on D above middle C.

Metronome mark of 66 is best but not essential.

We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

You can watch Sweet Honey in the Rock singing the whole song here:

Send your video to, so we can share it with everyone. Maybe if the background noise is bothersome, then send both your video and an audio file recorded at home, too.

Meanwhile, stay safe and keep singing!

Challenge Yourself

Join us to be part of a virtual duet, trio, or quartet. Tell us what you would like to sing, or we will suggest a beautiful and moving work that promotes peace, freedom, and justice. We can match your talent with other singers and musicians. All participants will be auditioned and guided. If you love to sing and if you care about helping others, you may participate wherever you are, in Australia, South Africa, or America. We will produce each quartet, maintain a library of these performances, publish videos on our YouTube channel, and you may share it widely among your friends and connections.

We will also produce a DVD of the best performances.

Learn about Nonviolent Activism

Join a virtual group to study music history, nuclear disarmament, and nonviolent activism. We can share books about Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela.

One book on our short list is Unbowed: A Memoir about the life and work of Wangari Maathai, who founded the Green Belt Movement and won the Nobel Peace Prize working to save the forests of Africa and empower women.

Zoom with the Masters

Join us to learn about significant aspects of music theory and music history. Our theme is how music overcomes adversity.

These will be similar to the sessions we are hosting this Spring, so far:

  • Tom Bell playing and explaining the structure of Beethoven’s piano sonatas
  • Charles Hiestand on Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Seventh Symphony
  • Matthew Weiss on violin and Tom Bell on piano performing Beethoven’s Romance in F for violin and orchestra
  • Liz Douthitt Sharp on women in jazz
  • Gretchen Yanover with her electric cello

See Zooming with the Masters. We will schedule these sessions through the summer.

Weekly Activist Update

We will be a clearing house for meaningful ways to get involved. Get out the vote, improve gender equality, support Native Americans and Black Lives Matter, work for health care, fight for climate change, and more.

Drumming for Singers

Frederick West, the artistic director of Seattle Peace Chorus, will co-teach a drumming class with a well-known Seattle drumming teacher that will be especially helpful for singers. Four outdoor sessions this summer will follow strict guidelines for the personal safety of all participants. Dates and times will be announced soon.

Peace Festival

When we are all safe from the pandemic and people are free to travel and to gather, we would like to organize an event to showcase the best small groups that we produced during the shutdown, and have everyone sing together for a few big numbers.

Membership in Seattle Peace Chorus

Singing together, in concert halls and during marches and demonstrations, has always been a part of how Seattle Peace Chorus promotes messages of peace and justice, but membership in Seattle Peace Chorus has always meant more than singing together. Help us in these times to continue to reach out to change people’s hearts and minds.

Your regular dues as a member of Seattle Peace Chorus entitle you to participate in all our activities without further fees. If you choose not to become a regular member of Seattle Peace Chorus, however, you may pay a modest fee to offset the cost of hiring technicians and musicians to bring virtual experiences to fruition.

If you have not previously joined as a member of Seattle Peace Chorus, to sign up to participate please fill out an audition request form and tell us how you’d like to participate.

Members past and present may sign up by contacting us at

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We urge everyone to support organizations that promote peace, protect our planet, and fight for the underprivileged. See this list of organizations that we support.

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For both singers and listeners, the Seattle Peace Chorus provides a unique choral experience. Our commitment to peace and social justice creates a special bond among members and with our audience.

Our repertoire, reflecting our multi-cultural, multi-national focus, ranges from spirituals and gospel to Mozart and Beethoven, from South African freedom songs to the original works of our director Fred West.

Performances often include an exciting range of instrumentalists from Cuban drummers to chamber orchestras. This rich variety is sustained by our commitment to using a collaborative process for decision making, enabling members to influence repertoire decisions through a committee that any member can join.

In addition to traveling to countries such as the former Soviet Union, Chile, Cuba, and Venezuela, and performing two major concerts a year, we support peace and community activities by singing at rallies, marches, fundraisers for disaster relief, and similar events.

If our unique approach to choral music appeals to you, consider joining us as a singer, volunteer, or financial supporter—or simply come to our concerts and be inspired.

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Together Apart: a song of community action


Now we seek to help our neighbor,
Working together apart,
Doing our part for friend and for stranger,
Love at a distance spanned by the heart.

Seattle Peace Chorus thanks the Action Ensemble “Together Apart” Virtual Choir:

  • Guitarist
    • Nedra Gaskill
  • Sopranos
    • Martha Baskin
    • Patricia Clayton
    • Margarita Muñoz
    • Nikki Nichols
    • Rosalyn Schiller
    • Mary Wilson
  • Altos (including borrowed sopranos)
    • Dee Knapp
    • Emily Leslie
    • Zarifah Spain
    • Cindy Talley
    • Wendy Zieve
  • Tenors
    • Doug Balcom, composer and ensemble director
    • Jeff Carter
    • Sue Hurley Rector
  • Basses
    • Steve Bauck
    • Stephen Ernst
    • David Matthews
    • Dale Rector

Because of the developing SARS-CoV2 virus and the COVID-19 illness that it causes, we urge everyone to be especially careful to take care of yourself and those whom you love.

We Thank our Donors

Seattle Peace Chorus thanks our generous donors, true champions for peace and social justice.

$1,000 or more

  • Martha Cohen
  • Julie Eriksen
  • Emily Leslie
  • Tom & Liz Sharp
  • Gazala Uradnik

$750 or more

  • Robert Andrews
  • Donene Blair

$500 or more

  • Steve Bauck
  • Thomas Berry
  • Carol Brown
  • Dean Grainger
  • Peggy Hannon
  • David Matthews & Wendy Zieve
  • Dale & Sue Hurley Rector

$350 or more

  • Donna Austin
  • Lila Henderson
  • Fred West

$250 or more

  • Pat Clayton
  • Bill Cote
  • Stephen & Karen Ernst
  • Edward Greenleaf
  • Jeri Howe
  • Marvin Kvamme
  • Teresa Lords
  • Marsha Munson
  • Molly Ryan
  • Rosalyn Schiller
  • Sylvain Slaton
  • William Weis
  • Kristina Zawisza


  • Tom & Rosemary Bell
  • Bill Buchan
  • Nedra Gaskill
  • Cecilia Matta
  • Alex O’Reilly
  • Gary Potter, Potter Construction
  • Marilyn & Thomas Sanford
  • John Sparks


  • Helen Lauritzen, founding director of Seattle Peace Chorus
  • Cindy & Tad Anderson
  • Andrew Bauck
  • Greg Bishop
  • Miram Blau
  • Jeff Carter
  • Jennifer Carter
  • Fran Cavaille
  • Meta Chessin
  • Dan & Sandra Ciske
  • Gabrielle Douthitt
  • Douglas D. Hoople
  • Dee Knapp
  • Roger Moss
  • Rick Wyckoff


  • Steven Albright
  • Sue Ann Allen & Richard Conlin
  • Courtney Austin
  • Rhonda Austin
  • Constance Bain
  • Doug Balcom
  • Marcia Bennison
  • Ann Bowden
  • Janette Brown
  • Michelle Burke
  • Lesslie Burwell
  • Sonia Chessin
  • Geoff Cole
  • Robert Crosby
  • Susan Davis
  • Elisa Del Rosario
  • Constance DeRooy
  • Theodore Dietz
  • Debbie Eads
  • Margie Esola
  • Dana Feld
  • Daniel Gilman
  • Mary Giordano
  • Philip Heller
  • Chris Hellner
  • Karyll Henry
  • Barbara Hersey
  • Barbara Hughes
  • Kathleen Humphrey
  • Sue Hunt
  • Pamela Iverson
  • Jan F. Kvamme
  • Whitney Keyes
  • Ana Kimball
  • Joe Knight
  • D'vorah Kost
  • Kristi Larson
  • Edward Lowe
  • Edie Loyer Nelson
  • Suresh Malhotra
  • David Morris
  • Susanna Myers
  • Patricia Navarre
  • Nikki Nichols
  • Helen Nissani
  • David O’Connor
  • Donna Pall
  • Terri Pollock
  • Janice Randall
  • Susan Renhard
  • Karen E. Richter
  • Jacob Rourke
  • Timothy Rourke
  • Caren Ruppert
  • Gwen Rousseau
  • Dan Russell
  • Judith Samuel
  • Pamela Silverstein
  • Susan Skillman
  • Straton Spyropoulos
  • Louise Stromberg
  • Sherry Tuinstra
  • Wendy Watanabe
  • Janet Whitlock
  • Timothy Williams
  • Mary Wilson
  • John Zmolek
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We Thank our 2020 Business Sponsors

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Thank you everyone who helps support the Seattle Peace Chorus.