Combining the forces of music and nature

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Combining the forces of music and nature
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Most musical groups, from rock bands to rap artists, stick to one genre, communicating a plurality of messages to the masses. Few have a mission statement like EcoVoce, a group of local musicians that comprise a musical voice for nature.
    
EcoVoce (Eco stands for ecology and voce means voice in Italian) charges itself with creating an experience for its audience that influences thought particularly thoughts about nature.
    
Ideally, our performance raises the consciousness of nature, said pianist Narciso Solero. We want people to take a look around, not just rush through life in their car while going from one place to another, but to slow down and look around at your surroundings.
    
The musical ensemble consists of Solero, founding member and soprano Denise Freeland and flutist Susan Hayes all classically trained musicians. 
    
EcoVoces style is not political; its natural. They are not activists, but communicators, using music as their language.
    
We want people walking out of a performance feeling good about the music, but hopefully inspired to make a change as well, Freeland said. Maybe its one small change in their lives, but maybe the music helped communicate something to them that they havent thought about.
    
EcoVoce will perform Sunday at Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill with the help of poet Ruth Baja Williams, whose readings of Rachel Carson and Mary Oliver are just one additional element to the concert. The performance, Breathing Naturally: Music, Poetry and Art of Women Inspired by Nature, also enlists a visual presentation of natural scenes put together by Hayes. 
    
And there is no intermission. Rather than take a pause, EcoVoce keeps the show flowing for about an hour, transitioning naturally from poetry to music to visual artistry and back without taking a bow until the end.
    
I want the audience to have an experience, not just a show, Freeland said. Im thinking of a musical journey. Whatever touches them, I want them to think of it as an experience. 
    
The concert the experience is also part of the Virginia Commission for the Arts spotlight on women in the arts. The distinction does not dictate the performance but informs it, much like EcoVoces relationship to nature. The group is not constricted to singing about trees and birds, or nature in just the literal sense.
    
Its not just literal, Freeland said. It can also be about how we are changed by our experience in nature, how humans have been touched, moved and impacted by it.

EcoVoces Breathing Naturally: Music, Poetry and Art of Women Inspired by Nature shows Sunday, June 20, at Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill, 3606 Seminary Road at 6:30 p.m. $10 donation suggested.

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