“I never thought it would touch my life in the way it did,” said Rachel Ebeling, the co-founder and executive director of the Angel Band Project.
Ebeling is referring to the issue of violence against women. In 2009, Ebeling’s best friend Teresa Butz was killed after she was repeatedly raped by a man who broke into her home in Seattle.
After Butz’s death, Ebeling went on to found the Angel Band Project with the blessing of Teresa’s brother, Norbert Leo Butz, an acclaimed Broadway performer. The non-profit seeks to start conversations about sexual violence, to raise money for victims through benefit albums and to work directly with survivors through music therapy.
The Angel Band Project is one of the partners in the Women’s HOPE Chorale of St. Louis’ upcoming concert highlighting the issue of violence against women. The performance, titled “Still I Rise,” will include choral music, art exhibits and a panel discussion.
“With this theme of this concert, we want to give women hope and women a voice,” said Leanne Magnuson Latuda, the artistic director and conductor of the chorale. “The women that we’re bringing to the forefront are women who have been through some difficult things in their life. They are survivors of sexual violence and trauma. They have quite a story to tell. We will present it in a hopeful, positive way with some beautiful music and perhaps a few poignant moments but also some celebrations of the life that is still there and the beauty and presence of these women.”
Some of the songs the chorale will perform were written by survivors.
Other songs will be performed by partners, such as Mayor Taylor Band. Lydia Ruffin, the band’s vocalist, said that the issue of violence against women immediately resonated with her and made the band want to join in.
The concert will feature two world premieres: “Going Down the River,” by Paul Reuter, executive director of the Sheldon Concert Hall, and “Grace,” by Minneapolis-based composer Elizabeth Alexander.
The event will also feature a panel discussion about violence against women with representatives from Safe Connections, the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the YWCA, and the St. Louis Police Department.
Following the event, resources will be available for survivors and allies as well as several visual art displays.
Ebeling said that she hopes the concert will spur community conversations.
“Not many people realize how prevalent violence against women is,” Ebeling said. “In the United States, every two minutes, someone is sexually assaulted. One in four women will be the victim of an attempted sexual assault over the course of her life.”
What: Womens HOPE Chorale of St. Louis Presents "Still I Rise" A Community Conversation Concert
When: Sunday, May 7
3:00 p.m. - Panel Discussion
4:00 p.m. - Musical Performance
5:00 p.m. - Post-concert reception with visual art displays
Where: Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton Road, St. Louis, MO 63117
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