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Seattle Peace Chorus Performs Songs of the Americas

Seattle Peace Chorus

Saturday, November 23, 2013 - 7:30pm

A tribute to the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 2013, with a mix of musical traditions from North and South America...


  • Misa Criolla, an iconic South American folk chorale by Ariel Ramirez, accompanied by virtuoso musicians playing traditional Andean instruments
  • Let America Be America, based on the poetry by Langston Hughes with music by Frederick N. West
  • Also featured on the program will be songs and stories from the choir’s recent travels to Chile.

WHEN:  November 23, 2012 – Saturday, 7:30 p.m. AND  November 24, 2012 – Sunday, 3 p.m.

WHERE:  Greenlake United Methodist Church, 6415 First Ave. NE, Seattle WA 98115

TICKETS:  Available online at or call 800.838.3006

  • $20 Advance
  • $18 Seniors, students, differently abled
  • $25 At the door

As a composer and chorale conductor who cares deeply about justice, Frederick West set Langston Hughes poem Let America Be America Again to music because it tells stories in ways that reflect real opportunity and a free life—equality in the air we breathe.

The haunting sounds of bamboo pipes have formed a part of the Andean landscape for over two millennia. In Pre-Colombian South America, music was a sacred art, a powerful source of communication with the divine world. Andean musicians used a variety of instruments, some even dating to pre-Inca origins. Instruments include:

  • Quenas are the traditional bamboo flute of the Andes.
  • Zampoñas, also known as pan pipes.
  • Percussion is provided by a simple, deep voiced frame drum, called a Bombo leguero, considered one of the oldest instruments in human history.
  • Charangas are string instruments.

The composer: Ariel Ramírez (1921 to 2010) was an Argentine composer and pianist and considered "a chief exponent of Argentine folk music" and noted for his iconic musical compositions.  Misa Criolla led to album sales numbering in the millions internationally.

Misa Criolla
features virtuoso musicians playing indigenous Andean instruments accompanying the Seattle Peace Chorus.

  • Andean music is a vehicle to understanding the history of a continent, its people, and their struggle to maintain a connection to the past and establish a true, independent identity.
  • Bolivia experienced a nationalistic revolution in 1952.
  • By 1965, an influential musical quartet formed in Bolivia and fused native sounds into forms that appealed to European audiences, which led to the promotion of indigenous music in Chile.
  • In the late 1960s, neuva canción (new folk music) was invented and the 1970s was the decade in which Andean music saw its biggest growth. Many musicians made their way to South America’s biggest cities.
  • Artists like Quilapayun, Victor Jara and Violeta Parra, used the new song movement as a social tool. The songs were infused with politically charged rhetoric. Highly critical of influence from the North (USA), Chilean musicians made Andean instruments and Andean music synonymous with the political left. The simple act of wearing a poncho became subversive.
  • The culmination of this movement was the election of socialist president, Salvador Allende, in 1970.

Founded 30 years ago, the Seattle Peace Chorus is a unique choral group committed to expressing a passion for peace through musical expression and building bridges toward other cultures and countries. It is directed by Frederick N. West.

  • The 45-member group represents a cross-section of age, gender and ethnicity and promotes peace “one song at a time.”
  • Its repertoire reflects a multi-cultural, multi-national focus, ranging from spirituals and gospel to classical and original works by West.
  • The group has traveled and performed in the former Soviet Union, Chile, Cuba, and Venezuela, performs two major concerts a year and supports peace and community activities by singing at rallies, marches, and fundraisers for disaster relief.

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