The Soul of Music, the Spirit of Peace
2017 All Souls Church Heiwa Peace Pilgrimage
In collaboration with Japanese partners, All Souls Church Unitarian (DC) is undertaking an exciting project--Heiwa peace Pilgrimage 2017--a multicultural, interfaith music and peace exchange planned for November 9-19, 2017.
All Souls has a long history of working for social justice. For almost two centuries, the congregation has worked to make our city, our nation and our world more just and compassionate. The ties between All Souls and Japan began in 1947 following the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when the children of All Souls and the students of Honkawa Elementary School (in Hiroshima) responded to the inhumanity of weapons of mass destruction through the beauty of children’s artwork. This legacy reverberates still today as a triumph of hope over despair.
All Souls entered into a peace exchange program in 2012 with the Unitarian Universalist Association's partner Rissho Kosei-kai, a worldwide Buddhist organization whose practices intend to help a modern and expanding world find peace and harmony. Members of the congregations have visited each other in their respective countries, with a particular focus on peace and reconciliation. In 2014 All Souls members initiated a relationship of meditation and learning with Rev. Taka of the Shunkoin Temple in Tokyo.
Once again, we find ourselves at a point in history feeling that we are in a world increasingly troubled, angry, and afraid. Rather than succumb to distrust, fear, and anger, we are reaching out through the beauty of music to celebrate a message of peace, justice, and compassion. Using the medium of music, the “universal language,” we intend to reinforce and expand our existing relationships in Japan.
We propose a ten day Heiwa Peace Pilgrimage to Japan, bringing 31 participants from DC to Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Kyoto to learn more from our Japanese partners about their culture, religions, and peace activities. In return we will share some distinctly American traditions with our Japanese partners. It is our belief that peace must be nurtured through mutual understanding and common compassion. We want to build on that realization by showcasing the music of the American people: African American spirituals, jazz, blues, and Appalachian folk music will be offered in concerts, master classes and school teaching, and other presentations. Among the 31 pilgrims will be seven professional musicians, experts in the field, along with members of choirs at All Souls.
In brief, we propose the following:
- A Reflections on Nature Concert at RKK International Headquarters in Tokyo
- Small group teaching at Honkawa Elementary School followed by an assembly in which all will participate
- Master classes in the elements of jazz for Japanese musicians wishing to lean more in this musical genre
- A citywide Peace Concert at the Hiroshima Peace Park
- A concert in cooperation with Shunkoin Temple
The core of 24 pilgrims are funding their own trip. For the seven musicians, we estimate the cost to be about $5,000 per person and seek total funding in the amount of $35,000 to cover expenses.
Meet Our Artists
Jen, All Souls’ director of music and arts, is an accomplished choral conductor, singer, and pianist. Since arriving at All Souls in 2013, Jen has grown the music program to include more than 200 participants aged from 5 to 80. In addition to two large adult choirs, Jen expanded the program’s offerings to include a West African drumming ensemble, a blues band, a bluegrass band and a children’s choir. She led a successful flash mob for voting rights on the steps of the Supreme Court, resulting in a viral video that was featured on the Huffington Post, Upworthy.com, and the Rachel Maddow Show. Recently, Jen directed a 700-voice Solidarity Sing in conjunction with the ongoing work of All Souls in providing sanctuary to those who are most threatened by the current political administration.
Prior to her work in DC, Jen was the production coordinator for Philadelphia baroque orchestra Tempesta di Mare and the director of music at the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia. She has studied with conducting greats Weston Noble, Dr. James Jordan, Charles Bruffy, and Gisele Wyers. Equally passionate about both classical and popular music, Jen has collaborated with various rock and pop musicians and been featured on numerous recordings as a pianist and vocalist.
In her spare time, Jen can be found thrift shopping for retro home goods, trying to coordinate red, orange, and turquoise in the same outfit, and having dance parties with her husband, Rob, and baby son, Simon!
Rochelle is a dynamic and compelling vocalist, songwriter, and clinician. Her profound and flawless sound is a woven tapestry of jazz-centric contemporary pop and soul. As a consistent voice on the east coast music scene, Rochelle has performed at top venues and events including Strand Theater, The Kennedy Center, Blues Alley, DC JazzFest, Strathmore Mansion, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley.
Described as “beautiful, spiritual music, steeped in Rice’s trademark fusion of jazz, pop, and soul/R&B,” Rochelle released her debut project, WONDER, to a completely sold out standing room-only crowd at AMP by Strathmore. Complete with beautiful original music, a sizzling quartet, and lush strings, WONDER is a strong first showing of what is sure to be compelling music career.
Increasingly in demand, Rochelle’s versatility and unique skills as a singer, composer, and clinician have allowed her the opportunity to work with some of the industry’s most acclaimed musicians, including touring with the internationally renowned a cappella ensemble, Sweet Honey In The Rock®, and performing with Grammy-award winning rock music icon, Melissa Etheridge. In 2017, Rochelle was invited by the US Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas to present concerts for Jazz Appreciation Month, and to teach master classes and workshops for elementary through high school students and students of the University of The Bahamas. Also in 2017, Rochelle sang the part of “Ruby Bridges” in the Washington, DC debut of internationally acclaimed award-winning composer, Darrell Grant’s, Step by Step: The Ruby Bridges Suite. Later this year, Rochelle will make her debut in Japan.
Rochelle received her Bachelor of Music degree in classical voice from East Carolina University, and her Master of Music degree, in jazz studies, from Howard University. While at Howard University, Rochelle was a member of the multiple DownBeat Magazine award winning premiere jazz vocal ensemble, Afro Blue, and was mentored by the award winning and well noted arranger, clinician, and jazz vocalist, Connaitre Miller.
Dedicated to social justice and presenting music that transforms and heals, Rochelle has performed at protests, social justice rallies, and recently sang in honor of the work of Congressman John Lewis and for the Grand Opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Through her work as Education Coordinator for DC Jazz Festival, she has written curriculum for DC Public Schools and helped to expand the scope of the Festival’s year-round education programming. Rochelle has also developed the interactive music history and early musicianship skills class, Da Capo!, which she has presented regionally and internationally.
Mark is a jazz pianist, vocalist, composer, and actor to whom the Washington City paper has awarded best album (To The People) and composer (in 2016) and artist of the year (in 2014). He recently made his acting debut playing the lead role as Jelly Roll Morton in Signature Theatre’s “Jelly’s Last Jam.” He also teaches at Shenandoah Conservatory and at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where he leads a jazz vocal group called the Mellow Tones. Mark has appeared alongside Kendrick Lamar, Bobby McFerrin, Renee Fleming, Kurt Elling, and many other prominent artists. Born in DC, raised in Dallas, educated at Johns Hopkins University and The Peabody Conservatory, Mark moved back to DC because of the diverse culture as well as the thriving jazz community. Currently living between NYC and DC, Mark tours frequently with his own and several other bands. He uses his artistry to bring forth a positive message of love, joy, and hope to his audiences. Captivating and debonair on the stage, he is an entertainer of the highest caliber.
If hearing the blues doesn’t make you stand up and holler, then you’ve never heard David “Git” Cole play the blues. A favorite of the DC Blues Society, this native Washingtonian brings the full range of his experience as one of the area’s most versatile musicians to his expression of the blues, arguably America’s foremost musical and storytelling art form. Combining his guitar skills with soulful vocals and an engaging personality, Cole deploys his talents as a musician and educator to elevate the blues to its rightful place among America’s cultural treasures.
“He’s a musician’s musician,” says saxophonist and educator Davey Yarborough, who praises Cole’s “attention to stylistic detail.” Paul Carr, a master of the sax who shares with Cole a musical biography that spans the genres of blues, jazz, R&B, and rock ‘n’ roll, says of Cole, “There’s a whole party goin’ on inside his guitar case.”
David is currently a member of the Capital All-Stars, the big band led by the legendary Bobby Felder. He has played around the world with some of the top names in blues, jazz, and R&B, including Percy Sledge, Archie Bell, Little Royal, Regina Bell, the Delfonics, Roberta Flack, The Jewels, The Orioles, Davey Yarborough and Esther Williams, Dick Smith, and many others. David most recently performed in the musical “Uprising” at the Metro Stage in Old Town Alexandria, starting as Tune-man.
David retired from the DC Public Schools this past June, after teaching music to children from pre-school to the 8th grade. He is currently resuming his mission of performing and recording to share positive inspiration music.
Paree L. Roper
Paree is a bass/baritone who comes from a strong choral background. Although his musical training began as an instrumentalist (trombone player in high school, college and garage bands), the vocal element has always been a major part of his life. He has been a member of the choir at All Souls Church Unitarian for 24 years and currently sings with the Washington Master Chorale (serving as the section leader for the basses). Paree has also helped anchor the bass sections in the Washington Chorus, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, the Michigan State University Choral Union, and the choir at First Unitarian Church of Dallas.
With these groups, he has performed on many well-known stages such as Carnegie Hall, Boston Symphony Hall, the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, and the Tivoli Koncertsal in Copenhagen. He has participated in major musical events such as the Kennedy Center Honors and the tribute to Marian Anderson at Washington’s Constitution Hall and has shared the stage with musical luminaries such as Dionne Warwick and Jessye Norman.
Paree is a strong believer in passing on the African American music heritage and has several recordings on YouTube where he sings Negro spirituals. He resides with his partner, Rev. Martin Smith, on the Waterfront in Southwest DC.
Ken is a drummer, percussionist, multi-instrumentalist, and music educator from the DC area. He strives to make music that brings people joy, makes people dance, and inspires people to do good things.
Since graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2004, Ken has performed frequently with a diverse variety of musical groups. He was a founding member of the DC-based electronic rock band Ra Ra Rasputin, which attracted a large local following and won a Washington Area Music Award for Best Electronic Recording. He has performed with numerous other groups spanning the genres of rock, pop, folk, bluegrass, traditional West African, choral, and jazz. He teaches private music lessons for students of all ages.
Since 2010, Ken has been an active member of All Souls’ music program. He plays drums and percussion in addition to singing in the tenor section of the choir.
Throughout his career, Ken has performed in hundreds of concerts in cities across the United States. In 2011, he traveled to Ghana to study traditional West African music. In 2014, he traveled to the Khasi Hills of northeast India for a two-week tour with the choir from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta.