World House Choir promotes justice

The choir was founded by Catherine Roma in 2012 to perform at a United Nations National Day of Peace celebration at Antioch College’s Coretta Scott King Center. The group quickly evolved to have a somewhat unique mission that its members are very passionate about.

That mission is using their music to spread a message of peace, unity and social justice.

“We all have a voice and the right to speak out for what we believe in but I think that people will be more likely to listen if we are singing instead of shouting,” said choir member, Chris Thompson. A student at Yellow Springs High School, Thompson is the youngest member in the choir.

The name, World House Choir was chosen by Roma to reflect the mission of bringing people together. She said it was derived from a quote by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that speaks of a “World House” where people must learn to live together in peace in spite of their differences.

Roma, a retired professor of music from Wilmington College, and a Quaker, said she has always strived to uphold the values of promoting peace, harmony and community and has done so for four decades using choral music as her medium.

“Something happens when people sing together, something powerful,” said Roma.

In addition to her work with the World House Choir, Roma is responsible the creation of a number of other choirs including Cincinnati women’s choir, Muse and choirs within the Ohio state prison system.

The latter is a particular passion of Roma’s that she continued with even after state funding for the program was cut. One of her men’s prison choirs Umoja took gold at the 2012 World Choir Games.

In addition to its other programs the World House Choir frequently does joint concerts with Roma’s prison choirs. Choir member Maggie Morison, Yellow Springs, said that, singing with the prisoners was one of the most profound experiences she has had since she began singing with the choir.

Currently the World House Choir boasts over 100 voices of all ages, ethnicities, religions and background and Roma strives to make their musical repertoire reflect that diversity.

“We sing music that I hope speaks to people’s lives,” said Roma who said that she selects music from a variety of languages, cultures and styles from sacred to pop but all in keeping with their mission and message.

As far as the future of the choir, Roma said she is looking to eventually increase their membership but that they won’t be doing so until Nov. 1 when they start their new material.

With members traveling from as far away as Cincinnati, the World House Choir practices every Monday at 7 p.m. at Antioch College’s Foundry Theater, 920 Corry St., Yellow Springs.

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