Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Youth from around the world bring songs of hope to Faribault July 22, 2014

On a perfect summer night, Songs of Hope performed an outdoor concert at River Bend Nature Center in Faribault.

On a perfect summer night, Songs of Hope performed an outdoor concert at River Bend Nature Center in Faribault.

AS THE GOLDEN ORB of the sun shifted across the sky, as dragonflies dipped above the audience, as a distant train rumbled, Songs of Hope musicians performed before a rapt audience at River Bend Nature Center in Faribault on Saturday evening.

The performers focused on hope, like their name.

The performers focused on hope, like their name.

And the message they brought—in their dancing and in their singing—was hope.

Songs from Guatemala.

Songs from Guatemala.

Inspirational defines these performers who have been attending the St. Paul based international performing arts summer camp, Songs of Hope. Seventy musicians from 15 countries are currently on tour, presenting 33 concerts in 18 days.

Chinese youth perform as the sun sets.

Chinese youth perform as the sun sets.

Songs of Hope is “about people getting together and sharing culture and lives,” Program Director Tom Surprenant said as he introduced the group.

Performing outdoors at River Bend.

Performing outdoors at River Bend.

But with audiences, like the one in Faribault, they share so much more: possibilities, hope, peace, freedom, justice…

In nearly constant motion.

In nearly constant motion.

I was beyond impressed by these young people who sang with such force and enthusiasm and rarely stopped moving as they presented 90 minutes of songs spanning multiple nations from India to Jamaica to Guatemala to Italy to Russia and many other places.

The band provided upbeat music that made you want to dance.

The band provided upbeat music that makes you want to dance.

Even though I could not always understand, music bridges language and cultural differences.

Selections from Jamaica included "Linstead Market" and "Stand Up For Your Rights."

Selections from Jamaica included “Linstead Market” and “Stand Up For Your Rights.”

Truly, skin color, eye shape, height nor any other physical characteristic mattered as these youth performed.

Nevaeh, the daughter of friends, wore the perfect shirt for the concert.

Nevaeh, the daughter of friends, wore the perfect shirt for the concert.

They were to me just kids sharing a hopeful message through song and dance, showing us that we are all human beings who can get along if we make the effort, living in harmony and peace with one another.

Look at the fun these youth were having singing a song, "I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream" about ice cream.

Look at the fun these youth had singing “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream,” a song about ice cream, a universal treat.

Especially moving was the group’s performance of “I Am Malala,” based on the experience of the young Pakistani girl who was shot simply for pursuing education. “Fight for what you believe in…for education…infinite hope.”

Hands joined in hope.

Hands joined in hope.

After attending this concert, I am, indeed, hopeful.

My heart went out to this boy from Israel given the current situation there.

My heart went out to this boy from Israel given the current situation there.

And I expect so is the young soloist from Israel who sported a t-shirt reading “PEACE & HOPE from ISRAEL.”

FYI: CLICK HERE to see a schedule of the remaining performances in the summer concert schedule, which ends on July 27. The final concerts are in St. Paul, Roseville and Montgomery.

Please check back tomorrow for additional photos from the Faribault Songs of Hope concert. If you have an opportunity to attend a performance, do. Songs of Hope will inspire and uplift you.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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16 Responses to “Youth from around the world bring songs of hope to Faribault”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Outdoor concerts are the best and, just like watermelon and corn on the cob, a sure sign of “summer” in the Midwest!! So many of these inspiring groups are making appearances in the area right now (just had one at our church last Wednesday…..800+ in attendance!!!). Great post…….I definitely ‘caught’ the “spirit” of the group!!!!!!

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    Oh the humanity – how great is this! It is comforting to know that today’s teenagers possess hope. I don’t see any “I am bored” here or even a hint of entitlement. I am feeling older after those few sentences. It sounds like something I heard in some form of a lecture as a teen. The cycle of life continues on.

    • I appreciate your thoughtful comment, Dan. You are right. No boredom among these youth. These are kids who care and care deeply.

      If you think you’re feeling old, well, ummm, yeah, I have more than a few years on you.

  3. Juan Pablo Pira Says:

    I have been following SOH for almost ten years now. No boredom indeed.

  4. Thread crazy Says:

    What a blessing it must have been to have attended this program. Love attending outside events such as these. Glad you shared this with us.

  5. Carla Says:

    I am from Guatemala, I went to SOH 2012 and 2013 (when I was 12 and 13) and it was one of the most exciting and beautiful experiences I’ve had. It is a wonderful experience and I made a lot of friends from a lot of different countries. It was amazing, so much fun, and I hope some day I’ll be able to go again

  6. Jeanne Junge Says:

    Audrey, thank you so much for all of this! Jeanne


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