Vermont's Freedom & Unity Chorus formed in October 2019 to spread the message of Peace and Justice across the Green Mountain State. Given these troubling times of great division, where people are being told they do not belong, this chorus is a safe place that welcomes all voices regardless of age, race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, national origin (ancestry), disability, and sexual orientation.
The musical director, Maria Rinaldi, suffered a spinal cord injury at the age of 12 which left her paralyzed from the chest down. Not one to let her disability define her, she pursued her love for singing with acclaimed vocal coach, Shyla Nelson Stewart. Although not a formally trained conductor, Maria directed the Winooski Community Chorus for 10 years. She prides herself on having an innate ability to choose music that is not only enjoyable to sing but also moves audiences. In 2016, she had the privilege of directing members of the Winooski Community Chorus and Mountainsong as a combined choir for Counterpoint's annual peace concert (see video below for the performance). That performance served as the inspiration for the creation of Vermont's Freedom & Unity Chorus.
To encourage participation, the chorus builds in as much flexibility as possible, from multiple rehearsal locations to uploading practice files and recordings onto the web for members to use at home when they are unable to attend in person. During COVID, rehearsals were moved to virtual sessions on Zoom, but we are happy to announce that in-person rehearsals will begin again July 2021! If you're interested in joining us, please check out the details below and contact us to express your interest.
Auditions: There are no auditions required to be able to sing with us. This group is for all abilities–from those who like to sing in the shower, to those who have not sung since high school, to those who have sung in multiple choruses.
Rehearsal Time: 6:45-8:45 PM (We are currently deciding on whether rehearsals will fall on Tuesdays or Thursdays.)
Rehearsal Locations: For now, we will utilize the Chapel at St. Michael's College every week since they have more room to spread out. Prior to the pandemic, we met in the Chapel at Saint Michael's College in Colchester every two weeks. On the opposite weeks we met at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Jericho to make the travel time more equitable for members participating from both areas. Members ideally attended rehearsals at both locations. For the members who found this a hardship, it was necessary to rehearse with the online files from home when they could not attend rehearsal.
COVID Precautions: All members who have not been vaccinated will be required to wear a mask inside the Chapel. We will have a box of disposable masks and hand sanitizer available for those who may need it.
Style of Music: We sing all different genres of music: Pop, folk, rock, soul, gospel...even Broadway when appropriate!
Performances: We are open to performance requests from local towns, churches, and organizations and/or any event where the message of Peace and Justice will be welcomed.
Associated Costs/Dues: Upon joining, new members will be asked to pay $35 to cover the cost of their music. Annually, members will pay $35 to cover the costs of any additional material and help defray the costs from the annual fee from the group's fiscal sponsor, Peace & Justice Center of Vermont. Some scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the cost. Lack of funds should not preclude one from participating.
Music acts like a magic key, to which
the most tightly closed heart opens.
― Maria von Trapp
Vermont's Freedom & Unity Chorus will bring together singers to perform music that represents the ongoing struggle for racial, social, economic and environmental justice in this country. In the tradition of musical and civil rights legends like Nina Simone and Peter, Paul and Mary, who used their platforms to ignite change, our voices seek to transform hearts and minds and inspire audiences.
Vermont's Freedom & Unity Chorus values every human being, and supports and celebrates each person's uniqueness, experiences and contributions. To this end we welcome all voices regardless of age, race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, national origin (ancestry), disability, and sexual orientation.
We choose freedom over fear and we recognize that none of us are free until all of us are free.
We believe that kindness and compassion are actions essential to confronting the powers that try to divide us.
We strive to become one of the most diverse and inclusive choruses in the State of Vermont.