Meet the Composer - Dennis Clements
Dennis Clements had a vision - to bring together local directors and choirs of all denominations, races and backgrounds to form a Diversity Choir Project. Clements shares, "For many years, I have been aware that our society makes it very easy for me, and many like me, to avoid meaningful connections with people who are different. At the same time, I have been keenly aware that the Bible teaches that love shared in human community is the most powerful evidence of a loving supreme being."
Clements began writing a choral piece based on Jesus' prayer recorded in the gospel of John but soon realized that he needed another "voice." He approached Toya Poplar and together they penned the lyrics in the kind of creative relationship that Clements had sought to pursue since he envisioned this project. "I wanted this piece to be a plaintive call to actively oppose the status quo of race relations in our country," explains Clements.
With the onset of Covid-19, his plans for the Diversity Choir Project had to be put on hold, but he shared his composition with Dr. Patricia Hacker, artistic director for the Huntsville Master Chorale, who enthusiastically offered to produce a virtual choral performance of the piece. Even though Covid prevents HMC from rehearsing and performing in person this season, virtual rehearsals and performances provide opportunities to continue the HMC mission of fostering creativity by keeping excellent choral singing alive in North Alabama while nurturing composers and performing their new works.
Clements and Poplar acknowledge our current state of uncertainty and unrest in the world and offer this composition as an exhortation to make connections with others instead of tending toward tribalism and further divide. Clements expresses, " While we don't all share the particular theological convictions which gave birth to this song, the general themes of learning to love and care for those who are different from us have an urgent, universal value, particularly in these difficult times in which we are living."