Roberts Park United Methodist Church lit up in songs of joy, uplift, about personal struggles and fostering faith in the absence of hope. For the members of the Matthew’s Voices choir, these were more than just emotions, they were beliefs they cling to as part of their daily practice. For those who sat in the pews, this was an opportunity to hear from people in varying walks of life, many who often go unheard and unseen while navigating the margins of society.
Matthew’s Voices and Voce choirs put on a collaborative choir concert on St. Patrick’s Day to gift their audience of eager listeners from around the community with a touching and eye-opening experience, as well as the opportunity to invite love into their lives while being in community with the other.
This was the first time the two choirs had collaborated and the first concert for Matthew’s Voices, an outreach ministry committed to serving people who are experiencing homelessness, providing them with the opportunity the express their joys, pains, and life lessons in song, as well as the chance to be in community with people from across Indiana who are willing to take the time to listen. MV Choir Director Jason Fishburn-Grooten is a longtime member of Robert’s Park UMC in downtown Indianapolis and serves a Relationship Manager for the United Methodist Credit Union.
“It’s been a fun journey to be with Voce, in rehearsal, in conversation, and I just see the joy in the space every time we get together to sing,” said Jason, who has shepherded the choir since its inception in 2016.
Voce, established in Indianapolis, is a professional caliber choir that has been singing their way into the hearts of Hoosiers for over ten years. Led by Artistic Director and Singer Robert Bolyard, the choir prides itself on giving “those who love singing an opportunity to work with and perform with others who are passionate in improving their craft.”
During a preceding conversation on Facebook Live, Robert shared his excitement for the collaboration, stating “we’ve been looking forward to this for a while.” He also shared his excitement for a particular song the two choirs would sing jointly during the concert. “Take What You Need,” a song crafted by Pianist and Composer Reena Esmail, provides the opportunity for a medley of stories to be shared during the performance. Reena works closely with Street Symphony, an outreach mission similar to Matthew’s Voices, based in downtown Los Angeles.
“The fact that we’re taking her composition, ‘Take What You Need’, and making it the title and theme of the concert is really exciting for me,” continued Robert, who is fond of Reena’s work, but had not performed one of her songs until the collaborative concert.
During “Take What You Need,” rather than singing solos, Matthew’s Voices choir members approached the microphones individually to share about their life experiences, how they learned about the choir, and the impact it has made in their lives.
Choir member T Lucas said, “I came to The United Methodist Church (Robert’s Park) before I joined the choir. And they helped me a lot because I came from the streets. I had moved here hoping to start a better life. I have found friends and I’ve shared things with them and it’s all because of this. I came here and found harmony in life.”