It is a known fact that music can bring people together, but what happens when you use music as a vessel to do good across the world?
The Prado Benefit Concert will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Harper Creek High School auditorium in Battle Creek. Admission to the concert is $5 at the door.
The event is an annual concert organized by Project Hope Ministries that features local choirs from across the Battle Creek area, including various high school choral programs and community choirs. The proceeds go toward children in need in Colombia and help provide them with meals, school supplies and special learning activities that would otherwise be out of reach.
Sara Cleland, co-executive director of Project Hope Ministries, takes great pride in what the Prado benefit concerts are able to do for children in Colombia.
“Kids in Colombia know that this event happens each year and are grateful for the support. They love knowing that there are kids in the United States that are supporting them,” Cleland said. “I am grateful that we are in our 10th year of this event.”
In the decade that the concerts have been taking place, Greg Black, director of the Lakeview High School and Battle Creek Community choirs, has seen firsthand the many benefits that come from the annual event, including the impact it has on students citywide.
“I think our favorite moments are not necessarily the performances, but the times in between rehearsals and performances, when we get to spend time with the other singers from the other schools,” Black said. “Getting to know those kids breaks down perceived barriers and brings us all together as a larger community of musicians. It’s pretty awesome to watch.”
Students not only put on the concert that evening, but they also spend the day sharing their prepared songs with the choirs from other schools and learning from experienced directors.
“Students are able to learn from each other and encourage each other. Both students and directors have a chance to connect with other musicians in the community,” Cleland said. “This year students will be participating in workshops throughout the day led by What-A-Do Theatre and Starkissimo voice studio.”
As the students spend their school day sharing music and time with one another, they build important skills that stick with them beyond the stage.
“There are multiple studies that show how young minds benefit from learning music, both in brain development and in the social aspect,” Black said. “And participating in community service, while helping others, also helps those who provide the service. Helping others gives us a sense of pride and value, and it makes our whole community and world stronger.”
The Prado concert undoubtably creates a bond that can be shared not only across schools but even across generations. Lisa Perez, member of the Battle Creek Community Chorus, is just one example.
“I love that things have come full circle for our family musically. Two of my adult children performed at Prado under Greg Black in high school, and now my first performance in a choir in decades will be at Prado under Greg’s direction. I’m really looking forward to this performance,” Perez said.
More information about Project Hope Ministries and the Prado benefit concert can be found at project-hope-ministries.org.