Alumnus leads homeless choir
Michigan State University College of Music alumnus Jonathan Palant (DMA 2007) recently led a chorus of 20 homeless singers in a standing-room only, one-night performance at the Dallas City Performance Hall.
Prior to the big night, Palant organized and led the Dallas Street Choir in annual holiday recitals of a much smaller scale, for seven years running. His choir members continually change and are drawn from The Stewpot, Dallas’ largest homeless shelter.
“Every week brings a new challenge,” says Palant, who worked with 57 different homeless singers over just 12 weeks for the current performance. “It’s difficult to be consistent in our musical preparation. My goal, however, is that we just continue to get better.”
And get better they did. For the grand concert that evening, the Dallas Street Choir was joined by world-famous mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade in performing “Somewhere” from West Side Story. The second act combined the Dallas Street Choir with the Richland College Chamber Singers and CREDO choir for the American premiere of “Street Requiem,” a 10-movement work that honors the world’s homeless who have died on the streets.
At the end of the show, the orchestra and choirs were met with patron cheers and a resounding ovation, with not a dry eye left in the house.
Palant is the choral director and adjunct faculty member at Richland College in Dallas. While at MSU, Palant’s major professors were David Rayl, Jonathan Reed, Sandra Snow, and Richard Fracker.
“I am so proud of this life-changing work that Jonathan is doing,” says Rayl, Palant’s doctoral advisor. “To see and hear the dignity and meaning that choral singing brings to the lives of these men and women is deeply moving. He truly has ‘transformed lives’ in the best Spartan tradition.”